Get ripped, toned abs and keep them year round here…
If you want to learn how to get toned abs you have to first determine which definition of tone you are after. The more popular way that “toned abs” is defined is one that refers to a leaner more visible set of abdominal muscles. This is and always will be achieved through a focus on nutrition. You must lower your level of body fat if you want to see the shape of the muscle underneath.
If you want to get muscles that are already developed to show more clearly, you have to improve your diet so that your overlying body fat can be decreased. The thick fatty tissue can obscure even the best set of abs at even 12% body fat or more. In order to really see your abs you need to follow a good nutrition plan that can help you to lower your body fat to at least 10% or less (ideally 7%).
That said, there are things that you can do in the gym to help increase ab muscle tone that will have an effect on how your muscles look and feel even at rest. You see, every muscle has a resting level of “tone” in it that determines it’s state of activity or alertness. This degree of muscle activation is not under voluntary control. It is there to help keep the muscle in a constant state of alertness and readiness for action. This type of tone can also protect the joints that the muscles are crossing.
For instance, when you get tired you may find that your head starts to bend back as you doze off. You likely then get startled back to being awake as your head snaps back to the upright position. This is a defense mechanism triggered by a stretch reflex in the muscles of the anterior or lateral neck. In order to protect the spine from a compressed state, the muscles and their perceived stretch tension are forced to action at a moments notice.
The more tone that is present in a resting muscle, the harder it will look and the more impressive it will be. Think about what happens when you hold your arm out to your side and flex your arm. When unflexed the muscle looks softer and less defined. Contract it just a little bit and you immediately see more definition and hardness.
In the gym, you can actually increase your resting level of involuntary muscle tone by training the muscles with stretch loaded techniques and increasing the difficulty level of the exercises. For ab exercises and training, this means selecting hanging bar movements. The ab exercises done from a hanging or pullup bar place more of a stretch on the abs in the eccentrically loaded or stretched position. Additionally, they are harder to perform and therefore require the contribution of much more core muscles in order to do them.
The increased contribution of the additional muscles awakens the previously dormant or uncalled upon muscle fibers that weren’t needed for the sub maximal intensity exercises and leads to an overall increase in resting tone. Over time, especially when combined with a good diet and nutrition plan, leads to much more visible and hard looking abs at rest.
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