According to Bodybuilding.com, “Ancient Greeks and Romans viewed visible abs as a symbol of health, strength, and physical fitness.” To this day, the fitness industry has taken every opportunity to flaunt how their product, workout or routine promises chiseled abs similar to our smoking hot ancestors. The only problem is, all the sit-ups in the world won’t achieve those god-like results without consistent full body exercise and a healthy diet.
This time of year especially, Hampton Roads gym-goers kick their workout routine into full gear in preparation for the dreaded, yet highly anticipated, beach season. Fun fact: Bathing suits are the closest to being naked in front of a large group of strangers and it being socially acceptable. Now couple that with prancing around half naked while trying to look good throwing a Frisbee and you can forget about it. Okay, now that we have your attention let’s take some stress off the ole’ “crunch time” – get it?
Understanding the Core
It’s important to think of the mythical rock-hard abs as a bi-product of a healthy lifestyle and less as a singular muscle you work out. Abs are a series of complex muscles that need to be worked from every angle. Most people don’t realize the abdominal muscles primary function is to “…hold organs in place by regulating internal abdominal pressure.” Protecting the core is a lot of responsibility for such a delicate area of the human body – it’s no wonder abdominal muscles are made up of four separate muscle groups!
Midline stability is paramount to barbell training. The core is crucial for protecting internal organs but also for stabilizing the spine against external loads/forces. Barbell movements require stability from all angles, therefore, midline training is hidden in almost all barbell work, including the cross-functional movements in CrossFit™.
Benefits of CrossFit™ for Abs
CrossFit™ is a form of high-intensity exercise that consists of “constantly varied functioning movements” that prepare you for any physical life situation. The reason people from all walks of life and ages enjoy CrossFit™ is because it prepares them for anything. Everyday tasks become easier, you feel more energized, and your joints, ligaments and tendons are more mobile resulting in less injuries.
If you’re aspiring for defined gladiator abs, it’s not outside the realm of possibility with consistent training and a custom nutrition program. Abs will develop naturally with full body workouts and no additional training is necessary unless you’re considering entering into a physique competition (in which case, your Hypertrophy training exercises should look a little something like this):
|Slant Board Sit-Up|
|Hanging Knee Raise|
|Hanging Straight Leg Raise|
With that being said, the MOST important thing you can do is focus on your diet. If you’re familiar with CrossFit™ you’ve probably heard Paleo is the way to go. However, CrossFit Virginia Beach and it’s members have seen the best results with Renaissance Periodization (RP). Unlike it’s Paleo counterpart, this meat heavy nutrition program is scaled based on your weight and your training intensity – perfect for building and maintaining muscle. “Abs Start in the Kitchen” is based on the fact; a high-protein diet is crucial to burning fat while not losing muscle.
“At Renaissance, formulas, calculations, and literature reviews replace gurus, hunches, and attachments to tradition.” Renaissance Periodization
Thomi Gill, 10-year owner of CrossFit Virginia Beach (Affiliate #102), has this to say about the tried-and-tested program:
“I highly recommend Renaissance Periodization to my gym members because it simultaneously supports muscle growth and burns fat which helps you lean out. CrossFit™ and most importantly RP, are not meant for someone hoping to be skinny. The amount of food you eat in this plan is tailored to your daily training load which is intended to promote healthy muscle growth. I’ve found RP to be more successful than other plans because of the timing aspect of carbs and fats around your training, the adherence to mostly meats and veggies with limited grains and fruits, and the easy-to-follow portion plans. The introduction to RP and the successive cuts make it easier for your body and mind to adjust.”