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Frequently Asked Bodybuilding Questions on How To Get Abdominal Muscles

Lower Abs, Weighted Ab Training, High Reps for Abs, and Training Frequency

By

The Abs of Hugo Rivera

The Abs of Hugo Rivera

Photo Credit:: Lina Rivera
[ Q ] I cannot get rid of my lower ab fat and love handles. Is there any exercise that I can do to get rid of them?

A: While leg raise-type of exercises will work your lower abs, and twisting crunches will work your sides, these exercises only firm up and build up these muscles. In order to get rid of your lower ab fat and love handles you just need to lose enough body fat to where the fat on this area is burned as well. Typically, this type of fat is the last to go so for women to lose it they need to go down to 12-13% body fat and males down to 6-7% body fat. Having said that, you're cardiovascular and nutrition programs will play a huge role in helping you burn that stubborn fat.

[ Q ] Do weighted ab exercises give you a bloated stomach?

A: Adding weight to abdominal exercises will not give you a bloated stomach look. Instead, by adding weights you will target the fast twitch muscle fibers in the abs and thus create a six-pack with deeper groves in between.

Note: What Is A Fast Twitch Muscle Fiber? It is generally accepted that there are two basic types of muscle fibers. Slow twitch (Type I) muscle and fast twitch (Type II) muscle fiber. Fast twitch fibers can be an asset to a sprinter when there is a limited amount of time to generate maximal force. The slow twitch fibers, on the other hand, fire less rapidly, but can go for a long time before they fatigue.

However, beware of using heavy weights when training the obliques unless you want big sides and a wide waist. Obliques respond well to heavy training, so please do not make the mistake of training them with heavy weights and low reps as this will kill your V-taper.

[ Q ] Are higher repetitions best for getting your abs?

A: Initially, ab training should just consist of two to three movements at the most, performed for 2-3 sets of as many good repetitions as the person can do with his/her bodyweight. As time goes by and one progresses, more sets can be added and repetition parameters can also be manipulated by adding weights to some exercises in order to target the fast twitch muscle fibers in the abs and thus create a six pack with deeper groves in between.

So to answer the question, a repetition range between 6-25 works best. However, sometimes to shock the muscle, I may do as much as 100 reps for certain exercises but may only do this for a week.

[ Q ] How often should I train my abs for best results?

A: While many advanced bodybuilders and figure girls can train their abs every day for a short period of time in order to shock the body part, this typically will lead to overtraining if continued for too long.

Therefore, unless you are doing upper abdominals one day and lower the next, you are better off training your abdominals for no more than 20 minutes at a time, 3 times per week on alternating days, as in Mon/Wed/Fri or every other day at the most (thus one week you will train them four times and the next 3 times).

About The Author
Hugo Rivera, About.com's Bodybuilding Guide since 2005, and ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer, is a nationally-known best-selling author of over 8 books on bodybuilding, weight loss and fitness, including "The Body Sculpting Bible for Men", "The Body Sculpting Bible for Women", "The Hardgainer's Bodybuilding Handbook", and his successful, self published e-book, "Body Re-Engineering". Hugo is also a national level NPC natural bodybuilding champion. Click here for more information on Hugo Rivera.

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