ForeverStrong PT presents…
A Method Behind the Madness post on Abdominal Training by Cape Town Personal Trainer Kevin Anderson
If you’re after awesome abs, look no further…
Our Adrenaline Abs program is a fat-burning, belly-blasting experience that you will never forget. Like all of our ForeverStrong workouts, it is researched-based and has proven results. Adrenaline Abs literally boosts adrenaline as a way of blasting the fat off your abs while using stability exercises whittle your waistline.
First, the basics. Adrenaline is a catecholamine hormone. This means that adrenaline is a chemical in your body that enables you to either fight or flight when you perceive danger or engage in intense activity or exercise.
Image source: www.bodybuilding.com/
When Steven Boutcher, a scientist at the University of South Wales, did a study on adrenaline and exercise, he found that more fat is lost during shorter, maximum intensity intervals than during slower and longer workout periods.
Obese women were divided into two groups with identical diets, but different exercise protocols for fifteen weeks.
The first group exercised three times each week for only twenty minutes. Their high intensity workouts consisted of intervals with eight seconds of max effort (on a bike) and twelve seconds of recovery.
The second group also exercised three times each week, but for forty minutes, and the intensity was steadier.
The results? In spite of the second group’s longer exercise periods, the first group saw a higher loss of body fat, especially in the belly, thighs and hips. The reason, according to Boutcher, was more catecholamine release in the first group. The catecholamines make it possible for more fat to be burned from under the skin and inside the muscles!
What is so important about the eight/twelve second ratio of intervals?
Boutcher found that longer intervals are too painful, but shorter intervals do not bring significant results. The eight/twelve ratio turned out to be the best for maximum benefit.
In an earlier study (2004), Boutcher found that short intervals not only burn more calories and disturb the metabolism at a higher intensity, but those engaging in them do not feel as though they are working as hard as people doing longer intervals.
The mode matters. In the research study, participants used a bike. However, a better way to turbo-charge adrenaline is with whole-body exercises. These types of exercises result in max heart rate, fat burn and muscle building by engaging both your upper and lower body at the same time.
Swings and squat to presses are examples of the whole-body exercises that are beneficial, as are the clean, the snatch and the jerk. Of course you can also run, leap, hop, jump and skip.
These moves also preserve and strengthen your Type II-B muscle fibers. These muscles start atrophying when you are in your 30’s and 40’s. Since they are the strongest and largest muscles that you have, you need them to maintain strength and good metabolism as you age.
Squat to press
Stable core: don’t leave home without it
This is crucial if you are going to have rockin’ abs. And in case you don’t know, crunches and sit-ups will only get you neck and back pain: NOT great abs. You can’t spot reduce, but you can set yourself up for some serious back trouble if you keep doing crunches.
Crunches only engage your superficial abdominals–the so-called six-pack–and cause extreme flexing of your spine. This can in turn cause bulging discs. In addition, sit-ups and crunches do not work your abdominal stabilizers, and unless these are trained properly, you will not have the health and stability that come from a neutral spine position.
To safely and adequately train your core, you need to stabilize it in three planes:
1. Sagittal (front to back and up and down)
2. Frontal (side to side)
3. Transverse (rotation)
The goal of stability training is to train anti flexion, anti-extension and anti-rotation. This can be achieved by doing moves that stabilize the core such as plank variations (front, side and back), different types of hip extensions and a variety of bird dogs.
Image credit: www.wchealthandwellness.wordpress.com
Why do we recommend a ten-second hold for core stability moves?
Because quality beats quantity when it comes to your abs.
When you try to hold a stability move for longer than thirty to sixty seconds, you tend to fatigue and spend much of your time in less than ideal positions. This means that even though you may be holding a plank for two minutes, you really are not getting the benefit of a full two-minute plank.
But if you concentrate on holding that plank correctly for a shorter time, you are going to see much better results. The bottom line is that it’s better to hold several, ten-second planks with perfect form than to hold a messy, bad form plank for two minutes.
It’s actually very similar to what we learned in the beginning of this post: longer duration doesn’t always equal better results. Longer intervals didn’t bring about greater fat burn, and longer planks do not guarantee better core stability. If you are working in shorter periods, you will burn more calories and have much better form.
Gray Cook, a world renowned physical therapist, also promotes a ten second hold for core stability. By the way, Cook is the creator of Functional Movement Screen (FMS) which we do here at ForeverStrong PT.
Master Physical Therapist Dr. Kareen Samhouri has this to say about the ten-second hold idea:
“Your muscle takes 2 seconds to ramp up intensity. You can sustain maximal motor unit recruitment for 6 seconds. Your muscle will ramp down for 2 seconds. 2 + 6 + 2 = 10 seconds. The optimal isometric contraction is 10 seconds as a result.”
Does this mean that there is never a place for a longer core stability hold?
No. Athletes who are training for endurance or those people who are advanced in their core strength can find the longer holds beneficial. But for most everyone else, holding for ten seconds is the best strategy.
The ten-second core stability hold concept is still not widely recognized in mainstream literature, but you can expect to see more about it as more people learn how top trainers and coaches are finding such success with it.
Adrenaline Abs Game Plan
A few key points:
- I have increased the work times from Boutcher’s eight seconds to ten seconds. In my experience in our session settings, the extra two seconds are needful in order to ensure that participants achieve enough muscle contraction, especially since we are doing resistance training rather than cardio.
- We are using a five second recovery period, because that is plenty of time to move from floor to a standing position while transitioning between exercises. For Adrenaline Abs, in fact, you will be required to move from floor to standing and back to floor a minimum of about sixty times in twenty minutes! This will be very fatiguing and is beneficial training for both sports and everyday living.
- This 1 to 1.5 work to recovery ratio will ensure that we get the same fat burn as the participants in Boutcher’s study. Essentially, you get a fifteen second rest in between each ten second exercise. This permits max intensity, since the whole body and core moves do not compete with each other.
- You will notice a one-minute recovery time between the five minute stations. This ensures a little rest to maintain peak performance as you move further into the workout session. You might also want to take a drink of water during this time.
- Finally, there is a finisher at the end of each workout. Finishers are work periods of two minutes of continual, whole body exercise. When added to the previous ten second work sessions, they really round out the workout. The added benefit is that they provide endurance training and deplete glycogen. This has the effect of kicking up the level of fat burn that you get for the next twenty-four to forty-eight hours. And finishers are good mental training as well!
Adrenaline Abs Program for our TEAM PT Sessions
- Total time: 20 min.
- Switch between 10 sec. of max effort for a whole body move and a core stability move with a 5 sec. rest between moves.
- Complete for 5 continuous min. and follow with a 1 min. recovery.
- End with a 2 min. finisher of non-stop work for a whole body exercise.
|a. 2-arm Swings Variation
b. Front Pillar
|a. Squat to Chest Press Variation
b. Mountain Climber Variation
|a. Skater Jumps Variation
b. Push-up Hold Variation
|a. Squat Rows Variation
b. Side Pillar Variation
|a. 1-arm Skier Swings Variation
b. Bird Dogs Variation
|a. Vertical Jumps Variation
b. Side Pillar ADduction Variation
|a. 2-arm High Pull Variation
b. Bent-Knee Hip Extension Hold Variation
|a. 1-arm Snatch Variation
b. 1-Leg Balance Variation
|a. Split Hops Variation
b. Fighting Dead Bugs
Curl to Squat to Press
The Adrenaline Abs program is a “no-joke workout.” It takes some serious mental strength to get through it, but if you go for it the results will be well worth it.
GREATEST VICTORIES ARE BORN IN THE HEART
JP Steyl – Head Coach at ForeverStrong
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