The Games are fast approaching. As the elite ladies grace the screen, we drool over their sub 50 Murph times and seamless muscle-ups, but if we are being completely honest, what truly mesmerizes us are those bodies. The Leblanc-Bazinets and Briggs’ of the world are built like no other: their defined arms, rippling quads, and the pièce de ré·sis·tance- those abs. Oh yes, the abs. Just imagining the six pack on Annie Thorisdottir sends tingles to my toes. Yet, thinking of imitating these bodies provides a different tingle by far- one rooted in fear and disappointment. Although trying to build your own midsection may be intimidating, I want to let you know it isn’t “abs”olutely impossible.
I, certainly, would never compare my own body to the women at the top. Not yet, at least ;). But, I have worked hard to get some definition in my abs, so I can share the bit of insight I have.
Feed those Bad Boys
Developing abs is a tireless effort, and maintaining them is an even bigger struggle. Now you see them, now you don’t; literally from one day to the next. I have found that diet plays the largest role in this process.
The first step to get some visibility is to burn the fat the abs hide beneath. Crossfit workouts are a good start for fat burning, but only when combined with a solide diet will you see results. When I started crossfit, I dabbled with the Paleo diet. It’s a good diet for losing weight and burning fat, but, in my opinion, not great for building muscle. So, if your first goal is to just lose weight and not put on a lot of muscle mass, I recommend trying it out.
Once you lose the fat layer, switch up your diet again. Bring whole grains like oatmeal and brown rice back into your life. Abs thrive off of the carbs. That is probably the most important and strangest lesson I have learned in building and mainiting my abs. Starvation tactics will not work- the abs gotta eat. It makes sense, though. They’re muscles, just like biceps or quads. If you want your muscles to grow big, you bulk up, eating carbs and protein. The abs are the same way. They require plenty of proper fuel to build, grow, and show.
Put in the Work
Besides a few toes to bar, GHD sit-ups, or ab-mats, abdominal focused movements don’t pop up often in a typical WOD. Some coaches claim it’s because just about every movement utilizes the core, but for great definition, you need to give them a little focused attention. Since my programming doesn’t show enough ab love, I like to add in a little circuit a couple of times a week. Here’s how it goes:
20 Cable Crunches
20 Cable Woodchoppers
20 Leg Lifts
1 min (each side) Side Plank
This circuit will get your abs burning! I tend to cut it off at three rounds for time concerns (or because I’m being a wimp), but those extra two rounds really do the trick. The great thing about this circuit is that it hits every angle: upper, obliques, and lower abdominals. The combination of working each area will create the best overall definition.
It’s a Bumpy Road
I’ll be honest with you, I am the driver of the ab struggle bus, but if you want to join me on this frustrating trip, feel free to hop on. If your ride is anything like mine, one day you’ll have a six pack, miss a meal, and wake up to find your abs have taken the day off. Those stubborn punks, misbehaving because they didn’t get their way. I have gotten so bad about trying to maintain them, that I begin every morning with a quick ab check, just so I can have a status update. I have yet to harness the power of Camille or Annie, but maybe one day the abs will decide to hang around with a little less constant scrutiny. Until then, I’ll keep putting in the work and making the effort, and I hope you will do the same.