With the speedy growth of technology, there is no need to be a kinesiology expert to understand how to efficiently contract a muscle. Learn how to make the most of your ab workout!
Popular fitness culture is obsessed with developing a strong and chiseled set of abs for years. Despite this surge of Ab Culture, many gym-goers can still be spotted utilising improper workout techniques in the quest for six-pack glory. Ben Pakulski is no stranger to perfecting his abdominal training to allow his physique to shine during competition season. Let’s take a look at Pakulski’s best recommendations for how to properly train for those beach ready abdominals.
Prime Your Abs for Growth
It may seem strange to prepare your abdominal muscles for an onslaught of exercises. But, as Pakulski points out, there are a large number of gym rats who cannot differentiate between a hip movement and an abdominal contraction. Never mind those vague cues about bringing your chest to your knees. The real magic happens when you are able to control a full contraction of the abdominals and obliques. Pakulski breaks down the initial steps to take before jumping full force into a core workout. This video helps to establish a mind to muscle connection, thereby increasing the benefit of the exercise.
The Tips & Tricks for Growth
- Focus on a full and complete contraction that is specific to your ability and body type. Don’t think in terms of point A to point B. Instead, concentrate on maximising the abdominal tightness, shortness, and contraction. If that is only a couple of inches of movement, then so be it. You’ll adjust and get stronger.
- If you are a beginner or not confident in your abdominal control, then it will be best to start out on a flat bench or a bench with a slight decline. As Pakulski warns in the video, stay away from an extreme decline. This is something you will work up to with time.
- During the exercise, you want to visualise and perform a direct movement of the solar plexus, or the bottom of the ribs, to your belly button. Forget about moving the elbow to the other side of the body. It is about your abs, not your hips.
- Master your breathing here so you don’t mess it up during the actual sets. Breathe forcefully out when you are contracting and breathe in during the eccentric, or lowering, portion.
- Once a week will not do it. If you want to develop a strong mind to muscle connection while improving your physique, then you need to be hitting your core workout no less than three to four times per week.
Train for Optimal Physique Enhancement
Another big mistake that your average fitness enthusiast makes is adopting the wrong training style for their specific goals. Pakulski highlights how people will train their abdominal and oblique muscles as if they are preparing for sports performance. While this rapid repetition of movement is ideal for precise sports-based actions such as throwing a baseball, it does nothing to help you achieve that ripped physique. Building that insanely ripped six-pack requires a different methodology; one that really emphasises intense, lengthy contractions of the muscle. Pakulski makes an excellent point when he talks about bodybuilders the day after a competition. Ask any bodybuilder how their abs feel the day after a show and the response is the same:
[one_whole boxed=”true” centered_text=”true”] “My Abs are sore as hell.” [/one_whole]
Bodybuilders must master the art of contraction since bodybuilding is all about emphasising muscle definition and size long enough to get the attention of the judges. If you can’t hold a contraction for an extended period, chances are you will miss your chance to be noticed and consequently costing you a top spot in the show. While in the real world, not being able to hold contracted abs while walking shirtless on the beach may cost you your chance with that cute brunette.
The Tips & Tricks for Growth
- You have two great ways to begin learning how to master the contraction. The first is to use a Swiss Ball as it allows for a full contraction. The other is to make sure your feet are restrained. Again, the focus needs to be on your abs, not your hips.
- One technique you can use is to guide your oblique muscles with your hands. Think of your hands like a check system that ensures the right muscles are firing. Put your hands on the obliques as you lay fully extended on a Swiss Ball. Feel your obliques open. Now as you pull up, use ONLY your abdominal and oblique muscles. Imagine tucking the muscle down and into your pant line.
- Remember that you will be training for the hold and not just for the movement. This means you will want to spend most of your time in the contracted position. Pakulski recommends that each contraction for each repetition should be no less than 5 seconds long. Ideally, you’ll tough it out for 10 seconds each time.
Mastering Control for Deeper Cuts
As you build your mind to muscle connection and learn how to properly contract your abdominals and obliques, you’ll begin to notice significant improvements in your physique. Chances are, these changes will be vastly superior to what you noticed before when you were simply moving through the motions instead of focusing on the contraction of the muscle. Now it’s time to take this focus on contraction to the next level. If you have a decent midsection but want to start seeing deeper cuts, you really need to push your body. The way to do this is through extreme contractions. This type of muscle tension is popular in the bodybuilding circuit. As Pakulski demonstrates with a volunteer, the real definition doesn’t appear until you’ve contracted for a hyperextended period of time.
The Tips & Tricks for Growth
- Pakulski has a unique and intense technique for gaining more control over your abdominals while improving the cut lines. The exercise, The Vacuum, is a staple for bodybuilders, but Pakulski recommends pushing yourself far past the recommended amount of time for contraction. The idea is to forcefully blow all of the air out of your body. At the same time, you want to be driving your belly button towards your spine in an intense contraction. Just when you think you can’t take anymore, keeping pushing. It isn’t until the very end that you’ll see those lines you want start to pop out.
- Obviously, the only way to see these cuts begin to form is to practice in front of the mirror. It may be a good idea to take pictures or video so you can track the differences.
- Pakulski looks at this as a test, stating that if you can’t handle this type of movement then you have no business attempting greater feats with resistance. Start without resistance, master your bodyweight basics, then add resistance later when you’re able to properly perform the movement.
All in All
If you’ve been struggling to develop the midsection you want, then it is time to take Pakulski’s tips to the weight room for the next few weeks and try it out. What else do you have to lose? We recommend taking a picture of yourself before starting this new abdominal focused workout. After 4 to 6 weeks, take another picture. See any differences? Let us know how you are progressing in the comments below. For more advice, check to see if you are making these 7 typical ab training mistakes.