So I’ve spent the past few months doing weighted ab work (mostly decline weighted crunches, with some cable crunches mixed in), and while I’ve definitely seen some better definintion, I’m noticing overall hypertrophy (obviously), and my stomach region feels a bit too “bulky” (no noticeable fat gain, just muscle bulk).
I’m thinking of going down the route that Charlie advocated (at least I’m pretty sure he does) involving just high rep/body weight ab exercises for “muscular endurance” and such.
My question is, is there a way to reduce this ab “bulk”? Would I have to stop training my abs all together for a while? Or would simply doing high rep/low resistance exercises like crunches, v-ups, leg raises, etc, maintain abdominal strength while allowing the bulkiness to “subside”?
I would highly recommend the high rep/low resistance training that you mentioned. Throw some isometric work in there too. If you are a bodybuilder then the weighted exercises are great for you. If you are looking for functional ability then train the muscles functionally. The rectus abdominus (or the six pack portion of the abs) do very little as far as functional activities. Their biggest contribution is when performing the valsalva maneuver (or forced breathholding) during isometric, maximum load or explosive actions. The spinal erectors and the obliques will contribute far more to abdominal stabalization or dynamics. Remember to keep your training specific.
Strength training is a general means of improvment for sport. I’ll say it again, Charlie’s idea of high reps is one that came from trying to improve core endurance to help hold the sprint posture, and a way to strengthen the abs without taking away CNS energy, so that more intensity can be focused on sprint and max strength sessions. Hope that explains the reasoning. I personally use both, higher reps on my GPP/Recovery days, lower reps with more weight on my weight training days.
I’m particularly interested in finding out if my stomach will “go back to normal” and not be bulging out in the lower portion anymore if i pretty much stop all direct ab work for a while, and if so, how long would that take?
Firstly, 1) high intensity is not the only reason your stomach is bulging. You mentioned in your third post that your lower ab region is where the bulge is and seeing the exercises you’ve mentioned in your first post it is clear that your upper abs are considerably stronger and more developed than your lower abs. Whilst it is true u can not isolate lower from upper abs, certainly ab exercises do not give the same degree of intensity to both. In the crunch, the upper abs recieve more intensity of contraction than the lower abs so it is reasonable to consider it an upper ab exercise even though it gets both.
Your “bulge” may be as much to do with the eccentric expansion of the transverse abdominus BEHIND your rectus abdominals. In some lifts, particlarly the ones where you bend forwards the tendancy is to expand the stomach area for support AGAINST the thighs. This is sometimes a sub-conscious response/learning pattern that is not allways desirable but sometimes is. (another subject). Also, one of the reasons most powerlifters guts stick out.
Check your spinal posture, Can be as much to do with strength and suppleness in other muscles from neck to foot as the abs. You may have a postural imbalance that made you favour “upper ab” exercises or the other way round.
You mention the word “distended”. Mmm… this is a trait sometimes associated with malnutrition but with you I don’t think that is the case. With certain athletes it is a side effect of certain, shall we say “juice”. Again, that might not be the case with you but prudent to have the knowladge.
Do NOT give up all ab work, just re-adress the method and certainly try differant exercises to the ones you’ve been doing thus far for abs. I suspect my first point is the main reason in your case.
Thanks Goose! And no, I’m definitely not on the juice.
I never had this type of lower abdomen “bulge” before starting decline weighted situps/crunches/whatever. Doing them caused my upper abs to look great, more or less, but led to a bulging or expansion of the area below them, probably due to the transverse abdominis.
I only recently added in the cable crunches, as an alternate exercise because of the lower ab bulge caused by the declines.