You hit the weights for every body part except for one. All of that benching, squatting and curling has surely done its job by bringing out the detail in your muscles, but you continue to do just your body weight when it comes to abs. Have you ever asked yourself why the fuck that is?
Before you jump in with the standard ‘using weights with abs just makes you look blocky’ excuse, we’re not going to tell you to crunch with the same amount of weight that you would do shoulder presses with. Our suggestion is a more conservative one that will make a ton of sense once you look at it with an open mind from afar?
Hypothetical Situation Number One: You perform 1,000 curls with a broomstick – or – three sets of 12 reps each with 35-pound dumbbells.
Which one do you think will be more effective as far as building muscle goes? Of course it is the dumbbells over the broomstick.
Hypothetical Situation Number Two: You perform 1,000 bodyweight crunches – or – four sets 25 reps each of cable pulldown crunches with moderate weight (approximately 80-to-100 pounds on the stack).
This is not a trick question, mind you, but the weighted crunches will get you to reach your goal of a six-pack faster. Sure, regular non-weighted crunches will work your abs, but they are a muscle and should not be worked any different than the rest of the body.
Added resistance will train them harder and tear down more muscle fibers, giving you growth and detail during the recovery and recuperation phase. When you do abdominal exercises with no weight, there is little to no tearing taking place, and that means that you will have to do bang out a ton of these fuckers and still not get the same result.
There are certain movements that should not be done with additional weight, such as hanging leg raises, which is possibly the most effective ab exercise there is. If you do wear light ankle weights or hold a dumbbell in between your feet, there is a tendency to swing to get your legs up to that 90-degree angle and that takes away what you are trying to do. The additional weight does not make up for the shitty form that it will cause. But there are a few exercises that kick ass when you add weight, like the cable pulldown crunches we mentioned above.
3. CABLE PULLDOWN CRUNCHES
The trick to doing them with the weight is to fully extend and stretch out the entire abdominal wall on the top portion of the rep. Kneel down far enough away from the weight stack to allow for the full stretch on a 45-degree angle, and hold the D-handle out in front a few inches above your face instead of against your head. This will help on working the abs top to bottom.
The better place to hold the plate (a 25-pounder seems to be a favorite) is behind your head instead of across your chest. You will be giving your abs a much better workout by putting the resistance at the top instead of in the center of your body.
1. CRUNCH MACHINES
Every gym has a bunch of these and most are really not anything special, but can still be used for variation. If your gym has a regular crunch bench that has a plate attachment behind the headrest, throw a 10-pounder back there and feel the difference. This is the better choice if available.