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  1. #1
    Registered User danklift420's Avatar
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    Working out abs/core through big lifts?

    Hi guys. Long story short, been bulking for about 21 months and currently on a cut for about 7 months now. My gains are honestly pretty crappy, and I know it could've went a whole lot better. I think I'm around 15% or so right now... seeing a bit of my abs, but not too much. Either way, I know I have been neglecting my abs a whole lot. I hardly did abs at all during my bulk... now I'm kinda regretting it.

    A big part of that is also due to the fact that I've read around seeing as how some people would say that deadlifting and squatting should be adequate enough for your abs. I'm aware that everybody's different though.

    But unfortunately, I felt like I wasn't really engaging my core all that much. I'm aware of it and would try to do it prior to repping, but as I rep the weight, I just seem to lose my core. Are you supposed to feel some sort of soreness in your abs (especially if you don't do it often at all) after a heavy squat/deadlift session? The reason why I ask this is because I've did bench two days ago, and this time I've actually tried engaging my core throughout the lift, pushing it out and all that, and I'm definitely feeling a bit of soreness in my abdominal/core area.

    Maybe my core is just too weak compared to the weight I'm lifting. Even if I were to have engaged my core properly and all that, I think I still should've done a bit of ab/core workout on the side.

    tl;dr: Should squatting/deadlifting/benching be making you feel something in your abs (like soreness) a day after or so? Especially if you don't ever do abs/core workouts? Would that be adequate ab development for some? And if you're not feeling that soreness, then did you really engage your core properly? Neglected working out my core, and not sure if I was ever bracing right (or strong) enough during my major lifts.
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    pay the iron price SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    If you don't see abs, it's almost always because of bodyfat being higher than it should be.

    Yes, main compounds do work the abs - especially if you use a belt and properly perform valsalver manoeuvre.

    If not then isolations like dragon flag or ab wheel rollout are pretty good - but these aren't what give you a six pack - getting to low bodyfat is always your priority if this is what you want (overrated IMO - but there you are).
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    Never accept defeat! backinthegymbro's Avatar
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    Regardless whether squats and dl's make you feel something in your abs, nothing will replace direct ab work.
    And you'll see big improvements in your abs if you train them multiple times a week directly.
    I went from no abs to actual abs in 2 months simply by training them (while already having low body fat %).

    So if you want my advice, spend 30 minutes 4-5 times a week on them. And really flex/tense your abs on each rep. And also breathe out properly on each rep, forcing the air out, contracting the abs. Sit ups, cable crunches, hanging leg raises, they're all great.
    But of course they won't actually show up until your body fat is low.
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    Registered User danklift420's Avatar
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    I'm definitely seeing some outline of my abs, but for sure there's still some body fat for me to lose.

    Definitely not as great as they could've been (just like my whole bulk in general).

    When you say 30 minutes 4-5 times a week, are you saying 30 minutes total? I'm currently lifting 4 days a week, I don't mind squeezing a little bit of extra time during each of those workouts to do a bit of core work.

    I was a big fan of hanging leg raise back when I did do abs, but I had issues with my hip flexor burning and giving up before my abs do. I've been regularly stretching my hips a lot more than before now, so hopefully it's a lot better when I do give it a try again. And I've just heard about Palloff Presses, so I might give that a go too.

    Much appreciated guys, would love to give ya some poverty (no) reps!
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    Never accept defeat! backinthegymbro's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by danklift420 View Post
    When you say 30 minutes 4-5 times a week, are you saying 30 minutes total?
    30 minutes per day. 4-5 days per week.
    I usually spend 30 minutes in the gym extra after my work out to do abs. Or i go home and do the ab work out in my house.
    For at home, there's a yoga mat i can do sit ups on comfortably, i have a pull up bar for hanging leg/knee raises.
    I have a broom stick to do seated/standing side twists.
    Lots of variations you can do at home too, lying leg/knee raises, bicycles, ab wheel work out etc etc.
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    Registered User danklift420's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by backinthegymbro View Post
    30 minutes per day. 4-5 days per week.
    I usually spend 30 minutes in the gym extra after my work out to do abs. Or i go home and do the ab work out in my house.
    For at home, there's a yoga mat i can do sit ups on comfortably, i have a pull up bar for hanging leg/knee raises.
    I have a broom stick to do seated/standing side twists.
    Lots of variations you can do at home too, lying leg/knee raises, bicycles, ab wheel work out etc etc.
    Thanks for the clarification. I've recently incorporated 20 minutes of cardio to my routine... even though I've never ever really touched cardio. Can't be too hard to do the same for abs.

    I just want to hit a low body fat % just to see the end of my cut, not as much for seeing abs. I figured if I'm gonna be getting leaner, it'd definitely be nice though. At least now I know it's something I've just been neglecting, and working out my core would definitely seem to help me with my main lifts. Once I finish my cut, then I could go on a long bulk from a lean base and hopefully this time around, it'll be a lot better.

    @backinthegymbro:
    Were you on a cut while training 'em?
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  7. #7
    Never accept defeat! backinthegymbro's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by danklift420 View Post
    I just want to hit a low body fat % just to see the end of my cut, not as much for seeing abs.
    Training abs won't help you much with lowering body fat %, but it will help with your core strength and it will also make you look a lot better once you do get low body fat percentages. So they're definitely worth training imo.

    Originally Posted by danklift420 View Post
    @backinthegymbro:
    Were you on a cut while training 'em?
    Yes i immediately started my training on a cut from day 1 till this day.
    But like you, i neglected my abs for the first 4 months. Been lifting for 6 months now and only recently got into direct ab training. But now that i see how much difference it made, i definitely include it as a staple part of my work out.
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    Registered User Heisman2's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by backinthegymbro View Post
    Training abs won't help you much with lowering body fat %, but it will help with your core strength and it will also make you look a lot better once you do get low body fat percentages. So they're definitely worth training imo.



    Yes i immediately started my training on a cut from day 1 till this day.
    But like you, i neglected my abs for the first 4 months. Been lifting for 6 months now and only recently got into direct ab training. But now that i see how much difference it made, i definitely include it as a staple part of my work out.
    You sure the ab training made the difference and not the fact you were cutting? Very unlikely to undergo significant skeletal muscle hypertrophy in a 2 month time frame while cutting (unless you have muscle memory working in your favor).
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    Never accept defeat! backinthegymbro's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Heisman2 View Post
    You sure the ab training made the difference and not the fact you were cutting? Very unlikely to undergo significant skeletal muscle hypertrophy in a 2 month time frame while cutting (unless you have muscle memory working in your favor).
    Very positive it was 100% the ab training. In the last 2 months i lost around 3 lbs, but my stomach was already flat before that. No abs whatsoever as you can see here, which was after a 4 months cut.

    Spoiler!


    And now i finally have ab definition after training them. But i'm very fortunate that i gain muscle fast. Might be my manlet genetics.

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    I would always add some type of ab/core work in your training.
    It's true the abs/core get involved in the big lifts but they are just a part the whole body working together to stabilize yourself lifting.
    So they are indirectly worked regardless.
    Some get more ab activity than others which could be due to many factor one being weaker or stronger in the mid section.
    I think exercises like the ab wheel are great as it incorporates many muscles working synergistically similar to when your lifting.
    Also for strength weighted ab work can help.
    If your trying to just isolate abs many of the traditional movements like crunches and leg raises can help.
    Good luck.
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    Registered User danklift420's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the info guys.

    Nice progress backinthegymbro! You've only been lifting for 6 months? Those are some pretty sick gains.

    Sounds great to see and hear that your abs can develop noticeably while you're on a cut! Still feel like I've got some ways to go before I finish my cut so if I were to work out abs starting now, I'd at least notice a bit of a difference? Makes me think of it like noob gains, how you can still make noticeable mass gains on a cut when you're first starting. Maybe my abs are still at that level? Hope so.

    Originally Posted by Garage Rat View Post
    I would always add some type of ab/core work in your training.
    It's true the abs/core get involved in the big lifts but they are just a part the whole body working together to stabilize yourself lifting.
    So they are indirectly worked regardless.
    Some get more ab activity than others which could be due to many factor one being weaker or stronger in the mid section.
    I think exercises like the ab wheel are great as it incorporates many muscles working synergistically similar to when your lifting.
    Also for strength weighted ab work can help.
    If your trying to just isolate abs many of the traditional movements like crunches and leg raises can help.
    Good luck.
    Much appreciated!
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    Never accept defeat! backinthegymbro's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by danklift420 View Post
    How you can still make noticeable mass gains on a cut when you're first starting. Maybe my abs are still at that level? Hope so.
    The key is a good work out program and training each muscle group twice per week. Training hard with lots of volume and intensity, good form and a good diet.
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    Do 1 proper set of weighted ab work and you will realize everyone who says your abs are worked fully as secondary muscles in compound exercises are wrong. Maybe you won't realize straight away, but the next day when you try to get out of bed it will be very clear to you.

    Edit: 5 minutes a week to absolute failure will blow the abs up more than long duration, ultra high rep, mediocre intensity most people do.
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    Originally Posted by danklift420 View Post
    Hi guys. Long story short, been bulking for about 21 months and currently on a cut for about 7 months now. My gains are honestly pretty crappy, and I know it could've went a whole lot better. I think I'm around 15% or so right now... seeing a bit of my abs, but not too much. Either way, I know I have been neglecting my abs a whole lot. I hardly did abs at all during my bulk... now I'm kinda regretting it.

    A big part of that is also due to the fact that I've read around seeing as how some people would say that deadlifting and squatting should be adequate enough for your abs. I'm aware that everybody's different though.

    But unfortunately, I felt like I wasn't really engaging my core all that much. I'm aware of it and would try to do it prior to repping, but as I rep the weight, I just seem to lose my core. Are you supposed to feel some sort of soreness in your abs (especially if you don't do it often at all) after a heavy squat/deadlift session? The reason why I ask this is because I've did bench two days ago, and this time I've actually tried engaging my core throughout the lift, pushing it out and all that, and I'm definitely feeling a bit of soreness in my abdominal/core area.

    Maybe my core is just too weak compared to the weight I'm lifting. Even if I were to have engaged my core properly and all that, I think I still should've done a bit of ab/core workout on the side.

    tl;dr: Should squatting/deadlifting/benching be making you feel something in your abs (like soreness) a day after or so? Especially if you don't ever do abs/core workouts? Would that be adequate ab development for some? And if you're not feeling that soreness, then did you really engage your core properly? Neglected working out my core, and not sure if I was ever bracing right (or strong) enough during my major lifts.
    Just from personal experience, the compound exercises did engage my core to the point that my abs were sore afterwards, but at the same time i found that exercising abs directly increased my core strength way more, and way faster. Idk, could be wrong, but that's how it worked for me.
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