How to get abs? It’s made in the kitchen.

Sounds familiar? My abs are showing and I haven’t done a crunch in 6 months.

Part of that is because I learned a gazillions other ways to train my abs, and I train it like 5 – 6 times a week. There are 4 major muscle groups that you need to train, e.g.

Rectus abdominis (which is supposed to be used during the crunches)
Internal Obliques
External Obliques
Transverse Abdominis and the deeper muscles

Abs are muscles, too. So if you want them to show you need to treat them like how bodybuilders treat muscles to make the muscle grow. First, rectus abdominis is made for trunk flexion (bending forward), so you need to train with the forward flexion movements. The obliques are for lateral flexion (side bends) and rotation of the body, should also be included in the training program. Ladies, beware, using heavy weights for side bend exercises will cause your waist to grow bigger, which is bad for your hourglass figures. So, when you train the obliques just use lighter weights or body weights.

Transverse abdominis and the deeper muscles function mainly in stabilization of your core, so you use them when you do planks, forced expiration, pushups, squads, deadlifts, and many other things that you don’t even know you are using the abs. If you don’t train these muscles, you are more likely to get distended tummy regardless of your body fat and more likely to get hurt from your typical daily routines because you lack the core stabilization.

Equally important is the training of your back muscles. So few people (especially women) worry about their backs, perhaps because they don’t see it in the mirror. We complain about our tummy but rarely our backs. If you only train the abs (1000 crunches included) and never train the back muscles, you risk getting older with a hunchback and back injuries etc. Also, even if your body fat percentage is low enough, you don’t have anything to straighten up the abs and make it show. There are cases that personal trainers just train someone’s backs and the abs show. Thus, balance in the training program is key.

Last but not least, abs are made in the kitchen. You need a clean, balanced diet to earn that trophy. Wait, my entire blog isn’t about eating bland foods. It’s about making it a lifestyle and being happy about it.



  1. says

    Hi, Natcha: I was thrilled to find your blog! I am working on my CPT Final Exam and I have a question for you. Do you have a better more effective process in figuring the formulas for Target Body Weight, VO2Max, Calories burned during exercise, etc? This is the one area I really struggle with. I have a huge desire to understand it, as training is my passion, however, the text book just makes it complicated. Any suggestions or helpful hints?

    • says

      Hi Annette,
      For the sake of passing the exam, I recommend just going by the book on your exam. I probably am not certified by the same organization as you so I don’t know what you have in front of you.

      Check out this table at Scroll down until you see the table with small, medium and large frames. It sort of works better for me because my BMI is borderline overweight while I have abs, which explains why weight is often misleading. I would go for measuring body composition instead. With my clients I always ask them to give me a few pictures of what they want to look like.

      I only know the formula for converting between heart rate and VO2max, because in the gym you can only measure heart rate. Calories burned during exercise is a trickier thing to measure if you are trying to convert to the food calories you are eating, because it depends on which energy system you are using.

      One way to estimate calories burned during exercise is by using metabolic equivalent, which estimates how many times of VO2 max at rest you are using. Google MET value tables and you will find this info. The calories burned is MET value x body weight x RMR in kg per hour.

      In practicality, the calories burned during exercise is rarely concerned because it’s often the intensity and the calories burned post-exercise that produce results. 90% of the times I instruct clients on resistance training or metabolic resistant training, which means breaking down the muscles and using the glycolytic systems to create oxygen debt. In these situations obtaining the real VO2max and calories burned become extremely difficult and irrelevant. These types of training may also stall the reduction in body weight but change body composition so they continue to lose sizes.

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