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6 Pack Back

6 Pack Back

Dr. Bell, I’m trying to get my 6 pack back. Is it okay to do a set of abs every day I lift? Or is it better to set one day a week as an all day abs day? I lift M-W-F, and do cardio T-Thr. Thanks, Brian

Dear Brian,

You could have the World’s Greatest Abs, but if they are hidden under 40 pounds of loosely packed muscle, more accurately labeled fat, you will never see them until you get your percent of body fat under 10%; or more likely 8%.

Most people cannot sustain 8% or less body fat without strenuous exercise and disciplined restrictive and demanding diet of low calories, no simple carbohydrates, and little or no proceed junk food. If you commit to a Spartan Lifestyle, you will find most ab exercises are relatively low intensity compared to other resistance training exercises.

Look at the Percent EMG Maximum Muscle Activation recorded by Dr. Bompa and Dr. Cornacchia:

                                                            % EMG MAX Activation

Weighted Crunch:                               81%

Ab Bench Crunch                               80%

Ab Rocker Crunch                              72%

Nautilus Crunch                                  69%

Pulley Crunch                                     68%

This list is missing my personal favorite, the Stability Ball Crunch, since most EMG Analysis shows the EMG Activity moving from the Rectus Abdominis to the External and Internal Obliques which “Frame” your 6 pack! Personally, I think if you are trying to build picture-perfect Abs, you need to put them in a great frame.

If you follow the FITT Principle, if you increase one of FITT you should make sure the other 3 Factors of FITT remain the same or decrease. Therefore, if you opt to increase Frequency and work your abs everyday, the other 3 remain the same or decrease. Likewise, if you increase Intensity by some very tough 15 RM Weighted sets, or increase Time by high volume, Sets/Reps/ and (or) increase numbers of exercises or increase Type with some killer Plyo or Negative Exercises, always decrease the other 3 factors or keep them the same.