Just as a person needs to stick to the right plan in the kitchen to get a six-pack, sticking to the basic exercises for building rock hard abs will get you chiseled in a short amount of time.
The only problem – people tend to make simple mistakes when doing ab exercises. Luckily, these mistakes can be fixed.
In this video from Jeremy Ethier, the trainer breaks down the mistakes people make when doing common ab exercises.
Mistake #1: Letting Hip Flexors Take Over
The first mistake you’re making with your ab training is letting your hip flexors take over the movement,” explains Ethier, “which is obviously detrimental for our overall six-pack abs development as well, but can also create a problematic imbalance between our hip flexors and abs strength that can potentially lead to back issues and pain down the road.”
One way to address this is by simply changing your focus during your abs exercises. Ignore what your legs or upper body are doing during the movement, and instead focus on your pelvis.
For bottom-up abs exercises like leg raises or reverse crunches, simply focus on curling your pelvis towards your belly button. And for top-down abs exercises like cable crunches or sit-ups, simply focus on bringing the rib cage forward and down towards the pelvis.
Mistake #2: Failing to initiate and maintain a posterior pelvic tilt
“The next mistake you’re making when it comes to how to get a six-pack is failing to initiate and maintain what’s called a posterior pelvic tilt during your abs exercises,” Eithier explains. “This subtle movement of tilting the pelvis by contracting the glutes and abs is another key function of the abs, and has been shown to not only significantly boost activation but also helps to further prevent the hip flexors from taking over during our abs exercises.”
For example, during the reverse crunch, initiate the posterior pelvic tilt by contracting your glutes and abs before you go to perform each rep and maintain that position as you go through each rep.
The same applies to moves like hanging leg raises, sit-ups, ab roll-outs, and even planks.
Make this change and you’ll not only instantly feel a much greater contraction in your abs, but also less involvement of other muscle groups like the hip flexors and lower back that we want to keep out of the movement.
Mistake #3: Treating the abs “special”
The final common mistake people make when training abs is treating abs differently than any other muscle.
“A lot of people will make the mistake of training their abs several times a week with high rep ranges, short rest periods, and will leave them for the end of their workouts when they’re already pretty fatigued. Instead, treat them like your other muscle groups.”
Provide them with adequate attention and volume but also with adequate rest, and as they get stronger over time, overload your abs exercises with additional weight or difficulty instead of simply sticking to the same routine over and over again.
“By training them in this fashion,” Ethier notes, “they’ll respond with growth the exact same way that any of your other muscles would.”
Love running and fitness? Check out our podcast “We Run This” where we talk about running and the running lifestyle. It’s the running podcast made for athletes of all shapes and sizes.