11) Hold Your Breath For A Stronger Contraction
Breathing is important when training abs—or any other muscle group. Holding your breath as you complete the concentric (contracting) motion maintains intra-abdominal pressure, which gives you a greater strength advantage than if you were to exhale while completing each rep. Exhale only toward the very end of the range of motion. Of course, inhale on the eccentric (ab-stretching) phase.
12) Learn To Ignore The Burn
Training your abs doesn’t require any special mental imagery. Just suck it up! When shit burns, keep pushing! I don’t care how much your friends are cheering you on, it’s you versus you at that point. It’s willpower.
13) Use Tabata To Make Your Workout Harder
I’m a Libra, so I don’t like to leave any stone unturned. I don’t just do 3 sets of 15-20 reps and move to the next exercise; I really want my abs to burn. I follow a Tabata protocol in which I do 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest. I keep that up for four minutes, meaning I do eight work segments.
You need to make sure you’ve got the right resistance, because you need to be feeling it within 20 seconds; you’ll probably reach about 8-12 reps within that time. You won’t get that burn on the first few sets, but you will by the seventh or eighth. If your abs aren’t burning, you’re probably not training them right.
14) Use Cluster Sets As Needed
A cluster set works just as well as a Tabata set. It’s going to allow you to push your abs to the limit, rest a bit, then hit them again. I do clusters, although I limit them to about a minute for abs, doing as many reps as possible with a given weight because I want to keep moving. I’ll do a minute on and 30 seconds off instead of taking a couple minutes of rest between sets as I do for other body parts.