Thick Abs! Making Your Abs Workouts More Difficult
The cornerstone to building thick, rope-like abs is progression. Progression simply means making an abs workout more difficult over time. This change in difficulty does not have to be dramatic from workout to workout. Instead, you can focus on making small improvements on a weekly basis. Over time these small increases in progression will add up to big changes.
Progression, or the adding of difficulty to an abs workout, can be increased in the following ways:
- Add Reps – Try to beat your previous performance on any given exercise by at least one rep. Over time small rep increases create an incredibly strong set of abs, and lead to some amazing feats of physical fitness. If you can currently perform 10 situps and add 1-2 extra reps per week, you will be knocking out reps like a machine in no time!
- Decrease Rest – One of the best ways to increase the difficulty of an abs workout is to decrease rest between sets. If you start with 120 seconds of rest between sets, and slowly lower that time by 5 seconds on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, you will be challenging your abs to adapt to new demands.
- Add Sets – As mentioned in the ab myths section, you do not need to work your abs with a crazy amount of high rep sets. A good rep guideline is 10-25 per set. This is not a hard and fast rule, and can be adjusted based on the exercise performed and to your specific body, needs and goals. Once you can easily perform 25 reps per set, adding in an additional set will amplify the stress. Obviously, you can’t continue to add sets forever. Overworking your abs with set after set is not the most effective form of progression.
- Add Resistance – Resistance is the force that works against you when trying to complete a rep. Resistance should be added very slowly over time. This gradual increase in stress will force your abs to be in a constant state of adaptation, leading to muscle growth and improved thickness. Resistance can be added with free weights (performing situps with a dumbbell or plate on your chest), ankle weights or a weighted vest (ankle weights on hanging knee raises), or with bands or a cable/pulley system (performing lying leg raises with one end of a band secured around your feet and the other anchored to a machine).
- Add Time – Certain ab exercises are performed in a static position, such as planks, side planks, and walking planks. By increasing the amount of time you hold these exercises, you are making the workout more difficult and forcing your abs to respond and grow.
- Slow Negatives – Slow negatives are an advanced training technique that involve performing a rep at normal speed, and then lowering the body back to the starting position of the exercise in a slow and controlled manner. This slow lowering is extremely taxing and should not be overused. Just as with other progression approaches, it is recommended that you add in slow negatives in a gradual manner. You can amplify the difficulty of a slow negative by increasing the amount of time it takes to lower your body. When using this technique, start with 3-4 second negative reps and slowly build up to 10 seconds.