Updated: Apr 1, 2019
by Justin Schneider and Jessica Zoo
Summer is getting closer and we all know what that means: time in the sun! Whether you’re out with your friends by the pool, chilling on the beach, or out tumbling and stunting in your uniform. We all want to have the best accessory to go with any tan: Chiseled abs that people do a retake when you pop up on Instagram. “Like”! During the season, we might be training our core to improve our athletic performance (link to that article HERE) but now that it’s summertime we are going to help you out and give you a few secrets on how to be uniform and beach ready, even if you’re just at home or showing off on the mat.
Most people don’t know that they already have abs: the truth is we all do! Without them we would have trouble doing most things on a daily basis. Even just laying on the couch. For those of us that have pulled, strained, or even torn an abdominal muscle, and we can assure you it is not fun. It is extremely limiting in our daily activities. Sitting up, rolling over, walking, balance, etc. But the trick to getting them to show, is ensuring you’re doing some super important things:
The most important part to making sure those beautiful 6,8, and 10 packs can be seen is your posture. If you arch your lower back like with your booty sticking out like a duck then it’s harder to truly show definition in your abs because they are overstretched, and it also won’t allow them to get stronger and get bigger. To fix your posture draw your shoulder blades down and together, draw your ribs in, squeeze your core, tuck your tailbone under and squeeze your glutes when you exercises. Poor posture leads to the wrong muscles doing the work, and wont help you get closer to your goal of defined abs.
2) FLEX YOUR ABS
Doing the “duck” isn’t just compromising the development of your abs.. it’s hiding the ones you already have! A good posture makes you taller, more slender but also helps you show off muscle definition. Another thing that helps is to know how to correctly “flex” your abs. Most people thing they should either A) Suck their tummy in (WRONG!) or B) Push their abs out (WRONG! WRONG!). To flex your abs, you firstly need to make sure you’re in the “tuck’ posture (just remember: ducks don’t have abs). Secondly, you want to flatten your stomach: to do this, you, need to squeeze your abs (not suck them in) while you’re contracting (not sucking in!) your bellybutton towards the spine: Think of creating a flat shape and expand your abs towards the sides.
3) CAKE THEORY
Stick with us for this next analogy: you need a firm and cooked cake before you go trying to put any icing and decorations on it! In this example the cake represents your core and your abs are the icing. If your core isn’t firm and well conditioned all around, then your abs will have trouble showing because they will sink in! You don’t want the icing to collapse into the cake, what a waste! You want your abs shining through better than a masterpiece on Cupcake Wars.
Just like in cheer, you need to progress strength training to get good results: If you’re a Level 2 Tumbler you can’t compare yourself or compete with a Level 6 Tumbler, right? For so many reasons, it’s better to hit a level 2 skill than flop at Level 6. Think the same way when it comes to your conditioning: competing with someone who has Level 6 abs is dangerous, fruitless and an utter waste of time. A great way to train your abs and core is by holding different planks until you’re able to perform each one with great technique for a whole minute. Check yourself on video and see if your plank is in good form. If it’s not, it means you’re trying a progression that is too advanced for your body right now. Reduce the level by going down to your knees and elbows until you can hold the position for a minute: once you can do this comfortably, try doing 4 sets with 30seconds rest in between.
5) REDUCE BELLY FAT
If you have a bit of excess belly fat hiding your rock-hard abs, you can do all the situps in the world but you-re not going to get rid of fat that way. If you see online all these exercises to “get rid of belly fat” then we’re sorry to crush the dream: it’s an outright lie. Spot reduction (ie reducing fat in a specific area) doesn’t work. Fat decreases from all over your body as a result of diet and full-body exercise. Make sure you’re feeding your body with the correct fuel, with the right balance of calories and nutrients. Too little won’t give you the energy to build the body you want for sport, and too much will build fat reserves. You need to ensure you’re getting a good balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats to give your body the right nutrients. By doing this you’ll help to burn, restore and build that beautiful mid-section you’ve been longing for. If you think you need to decrease your body fat, or just make better food choices, be sure to check out our previous article “ Do I Need to Lose Weight”.
Washboard abs, two different styles: which one is your favourite?
6) TOP SECRET OF A SMALLER WAIST
Here is where we mix a good balance of performance conditioning and aesthetic conditioning meet. You want a core strong enough for sport, but if you’re working on aesthetics, some of the things you’re doing could be counterproductive. Overloading oblique muscles (sides of your waist) can make you look like you have a thicker waist. Do you ever wonder why people who do Cross-Fit have much thicker waists than bodybuilders who have a small waist even though they are still very muscly? This is because body builders avoid training their obliques with weights, and cross-fitters work almost exclusively with weighted oblique training. When it comes to “functional training” ask yourself: what is the function I am training for? If you can’t come up with a good answer, then your training is not functional and you’re pointlessly growing bulk in unwanted places. If that’s the look you’re after, that’s great: but if you’re trying to get a smaller waist, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. The solution is simple: when training obliques, don’t load them with extra weights!
By simply following some of these easy guidelines you will be on the path to feel and look better. These tips combined will help lead you closer and closer to the physique and abs of your dreams. Please tag @CheerConditioning.Academy in any of your awesome results, we love helping you to be successful!