3. You’re working out on a full stomach.
We’re often told that we should eat within an hour previous to our workouts if we want to maximise our performance. There’s truth to this theory, but you may want to be more careful about what, and how much, you eat.
If our stomach is too full, we leave little room for ab movement. It’s also important to note that many of us have food intolerances that we’re not aware of. These intolerances can actually result in our stomach muscles feeling almost numb.
Fix it: Next time you plan on training abs, try eating a smaller meal beforehand, and perhaps consider cutting out things that could possibly be causing some kind of inflammation, such as bread, pasta or rice. You may also want to avoid man-made foods such as protein shakes/bars.
4. You’re not doing weighted movements.
For some reason, we train our abdominals in a different way than we do our other muscle groups. By that, I mean we don’t tend to use weight, and we stick to really high rep ranges.
Our ab workouts also tend to stay the same, and we don’t focus on progressive overload like we would do when trying to increase the weight we can squat or bench press.
Fix it: Consider adding weight to your ab exercises and focus on a rep range below 10, especially if you’re going for that thick, bulky ab look.
5. You’re dropping too fast on the eccentric.
This mistake is made on a lot of exercises, but is especially common with things like sit-ups and crunches. We work really hard on the way up, then relax and drop on the way down.
By doing this, you’re missing out half of the exercise and consistently cutting the time under tension, which is a really important factor when training for muscle growth.
Fix it: Make sure you’re lowering yourself at a controlled speed on the way down. By maintaining engagement in your abdominals throughout the eccentric as well as the concentric part of the movement, you’re massively increasing time-under-tension, causing a lot more strain on the muscle fibres and resulting in better growth.
6. Your range of motion is too short.
Don’t expect to feel much in your abs if your range of motion is limited. A basic floor sit-up is probably about 60-70% of the full range of motion your abs are capable of.
Fix it: Like time-under-tension, range of motion plays a huge role in working and breaking down a muscle. If you’re going to do crunches, consider doing them on a Swiss ball, which will allow you to stretch your abs more than you’d be able to when on the floor. And consider other exercises that allow for a bigger range of motion, such as hanging leg raises.
7. You’re not exhaling enough
One of the functions of your abs is to assist in exhalation. If you want to maximise ab contraction whilst doing ab exercises, you should try to full exhale through the concentric part of the movement (on the way up in a crunch, for example).