Training abs is about “feeling” the muscles being trained. Sometimes that means slowing down rather than blasting through crunches and Russian twists. Taking nutrition completely out of the equation (don’t get us wrong, you need to perfect your diet), you could be working full-body moves and fine-tuning exercises that target your core, but if you’re making small mistakes, your results can dwindle.
We spoke with personal trainer Alfonso Moretti, owner of Angry Trainer Fitness, about what subtle mistakes ab-training fanatics are making and how to fix them.
1. You’re Locking Your Feet In
You’d think locking your feet in during core-centric moves would let you focus on engaging your abdominals, but that’s not necessarily true. “When you lock your feet during situps or in an abs exercise machine, you end up pulling your knees forward with your hip flexors instead of predominantly using the abdominals,” Moretti says.
The Fix: Try thinking about it from a different perspective. Moretti suggests, “Lay backwards on a slant bench or decline bench, hold your upper body in position while you perform a reverse situp or crunch.” This will place more emphasis on your abdominal region versus your hip flexors.
2. You’re Twisting Too Much
Many people, in their quest for a stronger, more defined core tend to spend too much time on rotation exercises as replacements for traditional ab training. Movements that incorporate rotation are beneficial for a strong core, but you can’t forget about incorporating both.
The Fix: Moretti’s advice: Train your midsection in a circuit. “Perform flexion exercises like Swiss ball crunches, core moves like resistance band rotations, and finish with alternating dynamic moves like T-planks,” he says. Try three sets of 20 reps of each exercise with no rest.
3. You’re Limiting Your Challenges
“To maximize gains in the abs, you have to progress, but most people who wing it go nowhere, ” Moretti says. Instead of heading to the gym and doing the same number of reps, sets and exercises, you should be shooting for new records or attempting more dynamic movements.
The Fix: When you notice you’re not reaching new benchmarks for yourself, it’s time to reassess and modify the routine. “Graduate to more challenging and dynamic movements like wall planks, Swiss ball pikes, and TRX pendulums,” Moretti suggests.