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Ab work. Training the core. Building a 6-pack. Whatever you want to call it, training the abdominal muscles has been corrupted over the years. I’ll be short with this one and just get to the point: you don’t need to do a lot of ab work for your abs to look good. In fact, too much ab work will make the abs bigger, and this will only give you a thicker waist. Don’t believe me? Look at Britney Spears at the beginning of her career (on the left) and then compare that to the more recent picture of her (on the right). She’s lean in both pictures, sure, but her waist looks a lot bigger today than it did at the start of her career. The reason: she started doing 1,000 crunches a day to try and sculpt a tighter midsection. It only made her abs bigger, which on her tiny frame made a noticeable difference in the size of her waist.
The abs are not a muscle that needs to get bigger. They just need to be strong enough to prevent injury on heavy free-weight movements.
The abs have two purposes: to stabilize the spine and prevent it from buckling under pressure, and to curl the hips up a few degrees. Proper abdominal training should focus on the former, which is stabilization, and can eventually include hip curling movements like leg raises on an inclined bench or in a hanging position, but mostly it should be stabilization. Good movements to train the abs for stabilization are any variation of the plank...