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Direct Ab Work Necessary?


Hey guys I'm new to the forum and I'd like to ask something that I'm curious about, so far I've been training for 6 months my split is chest and tris, back and bis, legs, shoulders. I've neglected training abs directly because I save it for the big compounds such as weighted pull ups, but since my diet is in place and I'm somewhat lean do you think targeting abs will contribute to the 6 pack thing?

Thanks guys


I'm a big believer in high-volume ab work. I discuss my approach in my most recent comment on the post EyeDentist: How do you train? in the BSL subforum.


Direct ab training can help with strength, injury prevention, and obviously muscle. Totally neglecting them is like totally neglecting rear delts.

You don't necessarily have to do a ton of ab work, but some kind of flexion (a crunch variation) and some kind of anti-rotation or anti-flexion (Pallof press or plank variation) movement would be a basic start.

I just took a look at that. Seems old school (I mean that in a 100% positive way) and reminiscent of what some bodybuilders in the '70s would do. Guys like Serge Nubret, Zane, and Franco would often do high volume ab sessions, doing crunches for time, etc. Can't say it didn't work for them.

Alternating an ab move with a cardio-ish move, is also discussed in this article for "spot reducing" the abs:

So, very cool stuff, man. Glad to see it's working for you.

Yes, I think training the muscles responsible for a 6-pack will help with a 6-pack. In addition to a dialed-in nutrition plan, of course.


I found ab wheel rollouts to help quite a bit.

I thought squats and deadlifts were enough, but I was still having trouble with my back position on overhead presses. The ab rollouts helped with this; turns out I was still weak on my front side.

It also helped (obviously?) with "the 6 pack thing".


Yeah, those guys could crank out the ab reps; Nubret in particular was known for doing a humongous number of crunches/day. My personal inspiration for starting down the high-rep ab-work road was a Sports Illustrated article about Herschel Walker when he was at Georgia (which dates to roughly the same era). He talked about doing 500 sit-ups/d while watching TV (would do them during the commercial breaks).

That's a good article, and is consistent with my understanding of the science of fat loss. For most of my life the mantra has been that 'fat belongs to the whole body' and 'spot reduction is a myth.' Now we know there are circulatory and hormonal reasons why certain fat deposits are more difficult to mobilize. If anyone is interested, Lyle McDonald goes into considerable depth on this subject in his book The Stubborn-Fat Solution. (I have no financial relationship with Mr. McDonald or this book).


Kind of interesting thought. Here's a woman who looks to have very low body fat for a female. Smooth abdomen, not enough muscle thickness for her abs to show up, despite being very lean. I'd assume the same principles apply in men. You'd have to build some muscle thickness there for them to show, even if your diet is keeping the fat levels low.


I had the same thing by doing side planks. I don't think it did much for ab development, but just the activation alone helps my OHP form in the same fashion that glute activation helps a lot of folks w/ other lifts.


I was actually first turned onto the concept a few years ago in this article by Dr. Lonnie Lowery:
I used a topical capsaicin product (intended for "arthritis relief") in an attempt to increase blood flow to the love handles during training and I believe it worked to some relatively-noticable extent.


There does seem to be more strength carryover from anti-rotation and anti-flexion exercises (like Pallof press and plank variations) than from "traditional" flexion or rotation moves (crunch variations). The anti-movement stuff just seems to teach everything to get tight. Definitely some under-rated stuff.

That might be why weighted ab work also seems to also have a good carryover (from a strength perspective). By going heavier on an ab exercise, it gets a bit less "ab specific" and more related muscles are puled into play.


I was a springboard diver in another life and I've done more crunches than most people would ever think of doing. I'm convinced now that was a mistake and for the most part just fucked up my lower back; better results could have been had with different exercises. I now firmly believe that planks and anti-rotation and anti-flexion exercises are where its at. I'd also suggest a pike up over a sitting crunch any day. You don't need to do as many and there's less stain on your lower back.

Power Wheel:


To quote Mark Rippetoe:
Newb asks: "Got any good ab exercises?"
Rip replies:"Got any better questions?"