Abs Need A Tense Atmosphere
It's fair to say that abs are what a majority of people who go to the gym target. Whether the goal is for a better definition or toning the goal is similar. When you look at yourself in the mirror after exercising what is the first body part you look at? It's the abs Tony....the abs. Ab workouts, routines and tips are some of the most popular pieces of exercise information sought after online. TDL Fitness has many articles of this sort but you can't have too many. So here's another and it's all about tensing.
When you exercise the abs you can go hell for leather with a fantastic exercise routine. You can do hundreds of crunches or mountain climbers but see very little results. You can do them faster and depending on how your body reacts to this you could see some difference but it might be more limited than what you expect. The question must then be asked; 'am i tensing my abs?'. Instinctively we think yes because if we work them then we tense them. This is however quite a misconception. The abs aren't as simple as one muscle, it's three different sets of muscles you have to work at the same time. So you might feel the squeeze in one set or maybe even two but to get all three to work hard and at an optimum performance required for muscle development takes a bit more than just going really fast on those mountain climbers. You need to tense your tummy.
This might sound rudimentary and basic but it is true. Essentially when you want to work out your abs the trick is to exercise whilst preparing your tummy as if it is about to be punched throughout the exercise/routine. The reason is that tensing forces you to use your entire ab muscles during a workout. The body naturally wants to make anything you are doing easy by using other muscles around the body. This is why you could do lots of crunches but if you are not tensing your tummy your body will try to use your back, momentum and butt muscles to help with the crunch itself. Whilst it might not seem so important if you do a lot of crunches but it makes a big difference especially if you expect results from the maximum effort you are giving. The body wants to spread the tension around its muscles but you want to force it to use just the abs in order to develop it more and make it look good ultimately. Tension, the feeling of not sucking your gut in but more hardening your tummy as if someone is about to punch you there. If you need help ask someone to punch you in the stomach!
The hard bit after isn't so much running out of energy although that is important, it is to keep the tension up throughout the exercise routine. Can you keep tensing your abs after a few repetitions of a set of ab exercises? If you can then make sure your routine is hard enough. If you can't then you KNOW exactly how to improve and when you improve you should see definition and toning. So not only do you know your exercises are working but you get a feel and realistic expectation of what to see in your reflection in the mirror.
When you next exercise your abs feel your tummy during the exercise. Does it feel solid no matter your build? Does it feel impossible to poke because it is so tense? Or is it feeling a bit wobbly? Tense as hard as you can until you can go no more. Once the tensing goes completely then you go more into cardio and less into ab exercises which whilst good isn't an ab exercise. You might as well jump on the treadmill.
The tensing technique is also relevant in many exercises that require a strong core (which is most). Tensing the abs when doing a squat for example is very important if you want to keep a strong form and keeps you from doing damage to your back. A strong and tensed core will help you keep your back undamaged when doing a really heavy dead lift. In so many exercises tensing really helps. This also means that doing squats etc can indeed help develop abs (and toning too). Tensing is such a useful technique in so many ways.
Want those toned and developed abs? Tense the night away! When you relax after the workout it is going to feel so good every time....after DOMS if you get them. Do it or i'll punch you in the stomach...but it'l help!