The Six Pack Abs

I have mixed feelings about the Abmat. We use Abmats for sit-ups, and people often think that the sit-up is when we do ‘abs’ in CrossFit. More sit-ups equals more abdominal work, which equals killer abs for beach season. Sorry Charlie, that ain’t how it works. Let’s have Freddy from CrossFit One World explain:


You can do hundreds of sit-ups a day on this thing:IMG_1186And you still won’t have abs that look like this: Sixpack

You ALL have a six pack. The six pack was there when you were born:AbsThe truth of the matter is you don’t see it because it is covered in fat. You want to sport a six pack on the beach? Go on a super strict diet. Get down to a single digit body fat percentage and you will look in the mirror and say to yourself, “Where did those come from?”

You will be better served if you stop with your “frontal fixation.” For the most part, we are a people that judge ourselves by what we see in front of the mirror from the waist up. Well defined shoulders, muscular arms, a firm (or large) chest, a thin waist, and a six pack of abs. Everyone wants those “mirror muscles” looking good so they can strut around the beach impressing the opposite sex. Most people never stand facing away from the mirror and looking over their shoulder. What’s going on back there? A weak lower back. A flat ass. Since we are talking about the mirror hanging up over your sink, I won’t even get into your skinny and weak legs.

In six years of watching people train at One World, I’ve seen 100’s of people busting out Abmat sit-ups as “extra” work before or after their workout. Do your workout, grab an Abmat and hit 100 reps, and then walk out of the gym. Good for you, but you might as well admit that you think those Abmat sit-ups are magically going to make you have a washboard stomach. I won’t say that you are totally wasting your time, but in reality, you won’t eventually end up posting a picture of just your abs as your Facebook profile shot, andyou aren’t doing anything that is super beneficial for your overall core strength.

Core strength is not just the muscles of the abs. It inludes muscles of the back and abs that attach to the spine and the pelvis. Core strength is so important to what we do in CrossFit. Squatting, pressing, Olympic weightlifting, running, rowing, gymnastics, etc….. All of it requires that you have a strong core to maintain stability. A strong core will help prevent injuries and help you get much stronger throughout your whole body. Simply doing 100 Abmat sit-ups a day is not the ticket to a strong core.

An Abmat is definitely a great piece of equipment. If you butterfly your legs and touch the soles of your feet together, the Abmat takes your hip flexors out of the equation and isolates your abdominal muscles. People like to do Abmat sit-ups because if your do a bunch of them it feels like your abs are getting smoked! Must be working right? In the time that you are doing 100 Abmat sit-ups, you can be doing a few minutes of several other exercises that are WAY MORE beneficial to your overall core strength:

Hollow rocks:IMG_1188

Dead Bugs:IMG_1189

L-Sits:IMG_1190These pics are only a few exercises beneficial to increasing core strength. (Thanks Chris Stroud!) Lets not forget the GHD in all it’s heinous variations, the wheel of death, plank holds, knees to elbows, toes to bar, static overhead squat holds…. the list goes on and on!

If a few minutes of all those movements is way better than 100 Abmat sit-ups, then why aren’t more people doing them? BECAUSE THEY ARE HARDER!!! You never achieve anything by taking the easy way out. Stop worrying about having six pack abs, and kick the Abmat habit. Spend a little time woking some of the other movements I’ve mentioned in this post. In the end, you will be better served in your overall improvement as a CrossFitter, plus, if you lose some weight, you will have that washboard stomach that so many people are obsessed with.

OF COURSE….there is always a way to cheat the system:Ab-hancer

Thursday’s Skill:

Kipping pull-up and toes to bar practice

Workout of the Day (WOD):

12 minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) of:

5 pull-ups (chest to bar for advanced)

40 double-unders

Rest 5 minutes

12 minute AMRAP of:

5 toes to bar

10 wall ball shots (20# for men/14# for women)


Nice work from Carlos, Oli, and Marlen.


One response to “The Six Pack Abs

  • Bryce

    Rowing practice for 10 minutes, then review front squat (newbies will do goblet squats or dumbbell front squats)

    4 rounds of:

    1 minute on, 30 seconds off of:
    Row for calories
    Box jumps (24/20)
    Front squats (165/108)

    Score is total reps for all rounds.

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