Firstly, be honest with yourself and admit that your goal is at least partially driven by aesthetics as well as fitness. And that means doing workouts dedicated to training the abs and obliques specifically, rather than simply performing your heavy lifts and other exercises where the core is relegated to a stabilizing role. "Doing just the ancillary work through the big lifts is not enough to get your abs to the peak shape that you want them to be," he says.
Similarly, don't do your ab workouts at the end of a lifting workout, as you'll be too fatigued. "The quality of contraction matters more for ab training than maybe any other thing you do in the gym," says Cavaliere, who recommends doing your ab workout at its own separate time.
He also warns that in a number of ab exercises, it's easy to let other muscles step in and do more of the work, such as the hip flexors. It's important to focus on performing each move with good form to ensure that the pressure stays on the abs. As Cavaliere puts it: "Stop counting reps, and make your reps count."
Another way to get the most out of your ab workouts is to limit the amount of time you spend resting between sets, keeping it to a maximum of 30 seconds in order to increase the amount of tension and fatigue you're putting on those muscles. And don't forget to finish off that workout with an ab stretch.
And finally, Cavaliere wants to remind you that nutrition is just as important as exercise when it comes to achieving muscle definition here. "Whether you see your abs or you don't is really a body fat accumulation issue," he says. "The best way to get rid of body fat is to be in a caloric deficit, so you have to make sure you're eating right."
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