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Tip of the week Tip: Train your abs first

Tipps der Woche Tipp: Trainiere Deine Bauchmuskeln zuerst

Impressive abs are not made in the kitchen. They are made to grow through deliberate, regular hypertrophy training. Here's how to achieve this.

Diet certainly plays a role when it comes to making your abs visible, but don't forget that abs are muscles too. If you want them to be strong and stand out, then you need to build them up. But when? At the beginning or at the end of your training session?

Train your abs first during your training session

Conventional wisdom says that you should train your abs last because they are stabilizers and we don't want our stabilizers to be tired during other exercises. There is some truth to this. But for many exercisers, it works better to train the abs first.

Training the abs first works especially well if you don't enjoy training abs but love training everything else. Why?

Because once you're done working out the good stuff and all you have left are your abs, you have nothing to look forward to. On top of that, you're tired from working out and may not have as much time left as you'd like. So what happens? You either go through your ab workout half-heartedly or you don't do it at all.

Start by training your abs first, when you're still fresh, so that you can work them hard and still have something to look forward to afterwards. Eventually, instead of not wanting to train your abs, you'll get to a point where you like training them. It's a bit like the kid who reluctantly eats his vegetables and then gets ice cream for dessert.

Will your performance on the heavy basic exercises suffer?

There is a good chance that your performance will not suffer at all. The abs recover super fast and the more trained they are, the faster they will recover. Even if you move on to leg training after your ab workout, you'll spend enough time warming up for squats that your abs won't feel fatigued. That being said, squats and deadlifts mainly work the back abs and not your six-pack muscles.

If you have a super heavy leg day scheduled, then you shouldn't train your abs on that day. But that's maybe once a week, so you should still be able to train your abs at a fairly high frequency two to four times a week. In addition to this, you will achieve better visible results this way - so it's a win-win situation.

Tip: Perform this exercise first on back day

Some of your abdominal muscles are functionally shortened. Doing this exercise first will prepare these muscles for a heavy workout

By Dr. John Rusin


Perform a stretch-based back exercise before doing heavy pulling exercises on your back day. This preparatory exercise will bring your body back to a normal posture by putting you in the opposite position of the posture you are likely to spend most of your day in.

By far the most effective back prep exercise is pulldowns with arms extended and variations thereof. This exercise involves isolating the latissimus dorsi. In most cases, this is functionally shortened. Performing an extension at the end in combination with a maximum concentric contraction works wonders here.

Pulldowns with stretched arms


Pulldowns with extended arms are based on internal tension. When you use a weight stack on the cable, it's less about the external load you put on the tissue and more about how you build and maintain tension through the full range of motion throughout the set.

As you'll see, this exercise will be sobering in terms of the weight used - so you should leave your ego in the checkroom and perform this exercise for the feel and the pump.

Tip: Cook 6 meals in 60 minutes

"I just don't have time to cook" basically means "I'm not managing my time properly." Follow this plan to keep your fridge well stocked

By Chris Colucci


You can make a lot of meals for the week in an hour. Saying you don't have time to cook great, muscle-building food is like saying you don't have time to go to the gym. If you want to see results, you'll find a way to make it work.

Shopping list

  • 12 eggs
  • 6 chicken breasts and/or boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 cups of rice
  • 6 medium potatoes
  • Oil/fat for cooking of your choice (butter, coconut oil, oil spray, or whatever) The "hardware"
  • aluminum foil
  • One large pot
  • A smaller pot
  • A frying pan
  • A stove (always handy)

The plan

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Fill the smaller pot with the rice and 4 cups of water (or chicken stock) and fill the larger pot three-quarters full with water. Place both pots on the stove at maximum heat and bring to the boil.
  2. Cut each potato lengthwise and wrap each potato completely in a piece of aluminum foil. Place the potatoes in the oven as soon as it is hot.
  3. Preheat the pan with a little butter/oil/frying spray over a medium-high heat. Add 2 to 3 pieces of defrosted chicken to the pan as soon as it is hot. Fry them for 6 to 8 minutes depending on the thickness of the pieces (you will turn them later).
  4. Turn the heat down when the rice comes to the boil, stir it through and cover the pan with a lid. Add all the eggs to the large pot as soon as the water boils. Stir the rice again and cover the pot again with a lid.
  5. Turn the chicken when the 6 to 8 minutes are up and stir the rice again. Remove the eggs from the heat after they have cooked for 10 to 12 minutes.
  6. Check the rice, turn off the heat, stir it through and leave the pan covered. Rinse the eggs under cold water and then dry them. The eggs are ready. Take the chicken out of the pan a few minutes later.
  7. Add more butter/oil to the pan and fry the rest of the chicken for 6 to 8 minutes per side.
  8. Turn off the oven last and remove the potatoes from the oven after 45 minutes. Run a knife through the potatoes to check if they are done. The knife should meet with little resistance.
  9. The meat and side dishes are ready. You can go wild with the spices and marinade on the chicken before cooking or simply drown it in sauce after cooking - the choice is yours.

That's roughly an hour and you've cooked several protein and carbohydrate meals plus the hard-boiled eggs for snacks or a quick breakfast. As a bonus, rice and potatoes are two of the best carbohydrate sources to prepare ahead of time.

Vegetables in 2 minutes

Whether you've noticed the lack of vegetables or not says a lot about your attitude. Pick up a family pack of Kaiser veggies to have on hand in the freezer. This is a mix of broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. For each meal, throw two handfuls of vegetables into a bowl and heat in the microwave for 2 minutes - and your vegetables are ready.

Tip: The 10-10-10 treadmill sprint program

Want to get in better shape? Then do a metabolic conditioning program with progressive overload. It's tough and will get tougher...but so will you.

By Adam Vogel


Is it too hot outside to sprint? Or too cold? No worries. Just head to the gym. This training session is so intense that you won't have much time to worry about working out on a cardio machine.

What you need

Any treadmill that gives you at least a 10% incline.

The workout

  1. Start with your feet to the right and left of the running surface of the treadmill (and not on the belt itself). Set the machine to a 10% incline and a speed that is 2 to 4 km/h faster than your normal jogging speed. If you normally run at 9 km/h, you should start at 11 to 13 km/h. Allow the treadmill to reach the set incline and speed.
  2. Once the treadmill is running at full speed, jump on and sprint for 30 seconds. As soon as this is over, grab the handles on the right and left and jump back onto the side stands.
  3. Pause for 30 seconds and repeat this cycle for a total of 10 rounds.
  4. Try to increase the speed on each lap until you are able to complete 10 laps at 16 km/h (10 mph) on a 10% incline.

Remember to pause for 30 seconds after each 30 second sprint. An example of a progression workout could look like this:






11 km/h


30 sec.


11.5 km/h


30 sec.


12 km/h


30 sec.


12.5 km/h


30 sec.


13 km/h


30 sec.


14 km/h


30 sec.


14.5 km/h


30 sec.


15 km/h


30 sec.


15.5 km/h


30 sec.


16 km/h


30 sec.

Then increase the speed by 0.3 km/h per lap for each training session, trying to reach full speed earlier in the laps.

The treadmill pressure challenge

A great variation of this challenge that uses the same intervals - 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off - is the 30-30-10 treadmill push challenge. In this variation, you push against the stationary belt when the treadmill is off instead of sprinting on the treadmill. Simply stand on the treadmill, place your hands on the front handles of the display and start pushing against the treadmill with your feet as fast as you can for 30 seconds. Pause for 30 seconds and repeat until you have completed 10 laps.

Tip: Avoid these vitamins before and after your workout

Certain vitamins may seem like a good idea to aid recovery, but in reality they could be doing more harm than good. Here's what you should avoid.

By Mike Roussell, PhD


When I first became interested in training with weights and bodybuilding, I read stories about bodybuilders and their pillboxes full of vitamins and supplements. Skip La Cour, for example, always had a box in the trunk of his car. When he left the gym, he would open his trunk and go through a post-workout ritual of swallowing various pills including vitamin E and vitamin C.

With a body like Skip's, I would have a hard time questioning his methods, but what if his post-workout vitamin E and C consumption was actually hindering potential results and reducing his insulin sensitivity?

The study

One of the benefits of exercise is that it increases insulin sensitivity. Basically, if your insulin sensitivity is good, nutrients are better used to build muscle and less likely to be stored as fat.

In one study, a group of exercise physiologists set out to investigate how vitamin C (1000mg) and vitamin E (400IU) supplementation affected the increase in insulin sensitivity after exercise. 40 young men trained 5 days per week (50 minute training sessions including cycling and circuit training) for four weeks. The addition of vitamin C and E supplementation completely eliminated the positive effects of training on insulin sensitivity in this group!

In further studies, it appears that the increase in reactive oxygen species - which is suppressed by vitamin C and E supplementation - is a necessary phenomenon for increasing insulin sensitivity. The argument for the temporary benefits of increasing reactive oxygen species is strengthened by the fact that long-term antioxidant supplementation has been shown to reduce insulin sensitivity.

Okay, so what now?

If you're looking for a potential edge, then you should avoid antioxidant supplements and antioxidant-rich foods around and immediately after exercise. This will allow for a natural increase in reactive oxygen species and an improvement in insulin sensitivity.



Tip: The stairs to pain intervals

Steppers are not fun. Okay, in reality they're great for fat loss and conditioning. The workout is just hard. Here's a way to get results in 5 minutes.

By Andrew Heffernan

5 minutes of intense fat burning

  1. 1Get on a stepper for this Tabata-style workout. At this point, we're talking about a device that resembles a mini escalator. Don't touch the slopes, grandpa. These are for intervals and emergencies only.
  2. Set the timer for 5 minutes and start with one minute at low intensity and then increase the speed to a level you can just manage for 20 seconds.
  3. After the 20 second sprint, grab the handles and get off the steps for a short 10 second break.
  4. Repeat these work-pause intervals for 6 to 8 cycles.

Make it harder: add a medicine ball

Grab a medicine ball and hold it while you complete your workout. Hold it the way you want to hold it: with two hands, with one hand, up or down. Between sets, you can step off the machine or stay on it while balancing the ball on the cup holder/indicator at the front of the machine.

This takes some practice, but it's doable and it forces you to do something repetitive that requires control and coordination while you're tired - an added bonus to the real world and your workout and a useful skill.


By Tim Henriques

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