Ab Training?

kennycro@@aol.com

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More effective belt squat technique...
Belt Squat Video

The video posted provides those unfamiliar with the Belt Squat what they are.

A couple of issues with the method demonstrated in the video are...

1) Getting up on the boxes once you have attached the weights to the belt is a circus act.

2) Using a Dip Belt: In the video it appears that he is using a Dip Belt to perform Belt Squats. Performing Belt Squat with a Dip Belt is uncomfortable.

3) Limited Load: Both of of he above limit the amount of weight you can use in the Belt Squat; the Dip Belt will only take so much weight and having to climb up is awkard.

A Better Belt Squat Method

It's like baking a cake; you need the right ingredients.

1) The Spud Belt Squat Belt
Belt Squat Belt

The Spud Belt Squat Belt is strong and supple, it contours around you waist and feels good.

2) Loading Pin
Olympic 15 loading pin for Olympic plates and clip-www.ironmind-store.com

This allows you to load up as much weight as you want. I have loaded mine up with over 500 lbs.

3) Pair of Boxes: You need a couple of strong solid boxes to stand on. Using to Flat Padded Bench Press Benches is unstable; a recipe for a disaster.

4) A Strong Carabiner to attach the Belt Squat Belt to the Loading Pin and your in business.

Building Strength With Belt Squats

1) Position the boxes you stand so that you can hold on to something, like a Power Rack, when Squatting.

a) Holding on to something minimizes the stabilizer muscles. The stabilizer muscles are a limiting factor of increasing Strength in the legs.

It similar to the Leg Press that overload the Quads by eliminating the Stabilizer Muscles

2) Accommodating Resistance: Attaching Band and/or Chains to a Squat provides a greater overload to legs throughout the entire range of the movement.

Holding on to something when Belt Squatting allows to perform an "Accommodating Resistance Belt Squat".

In the bottom part of part of the movement, as you drive with your legs, provide some assistant by pulling up with your arms.

As you drive higher in the Belt Squat, decrease how much you are pulling with your arm, allowing the legs to take on more of the load.

Spud Belt Squat Video

The video above provide a good example of performing The Belt Squat with the Spud Belt and Loading Pin standing on Boxes.

Additional Belt Squat Benefits

1) You never need a spotter with The Belt Squat.

2) You can chose how deep you want to Squat.

3) Eccentric Belt Squat: By holding on to something like a Rack, you can pull up a heavier load and perform Eccentric Belt Squat for Reps.

4) Concentric Only Belt Squats: You can perform Concentric Only Belt Squat by driving the weight up and allowing it to free fall in the eccentric part of the movement.

5) Good Morning Belt Squats: As we've discussed the Lower Back is a limiting factor at time and it is quickly and easily overtrain.

Performing Good Morning Belt Squat, with the Belt around you waste, eliminates the Lower Back, placing the workload on your Hamstrings and Glutes. It lets you overload your Hamstrings and Glues while allowing your Lower Back recover time.

No Hand Support Belt Squats

If you want to engage and work the Stabilizer Leg Muscle to a greater degree, don't hold on, as demonstrated in the video that I first posted.

Kenny Croxdale
 
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Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Staff member
Senior Certified Instructor
For boxes, ply boxes will work. I use what are called apple boxes for many things related to lifting, but I confess I haven't tried belt squats on them - probably not tall enough.

-S-
 

Kettlebelephant

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KIWI5

More than 300 posts
Awesome info Kenny! I couldn't wait to try this technique so I used a vehicle snatch strap. Wrapped around my waist with the two open loops hanging to just above my knees, I then placed the two loops around the end of my weighted barbell, which I set up landmine style. To achieve enough ROM I can use no larger diamter than my 10kg weights, but the technique still works with all my weights loaded on- I just go higher with the reps. The next project is to buy the Spud belt and pin and make some boxes. Thanks again! Check out the landmine technique here...
Hip Belt Squats | T Nation
 

Sean M

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Those of you who who train the abs: how do you know the abs are not strong enough? How do you measure their strength?

With my usual lifts I find it easy. A 100kg or bodyweight overhead press, beast press, IPF classic 800kg total, etc. How about the abs? Especially when one isn't looking for stronger abs per se but abs that don't come in the way of the previous goals.
Great question, I was wondering the same thing.

Would a plank hold for time be a good enough benchmark? Or just progress off a baseline of any number of ab exercises?
 

WhatWouldHulkDo

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Those of you who who train the abs: how do you know the abs are not strong enough?
From conversations I've had with physical therapist, in a lot of cases any sort of lower back pain originates from a weakness in the anterior chain. It's anecdotal, but it makes sense to me - particularly with the high-tension stuff we all love, if one side is weak, the other side has to compensate.

So, I could imagine some type of testing of what you can lift without a belt vs. with a belt might be a measure of ab strength.
 

Antti

More than 2500 posts
From conversations I've had with physical therapist, in a lot of cases any sort of lower back pain originates from a weakness in the anterior chain. It's anecdotal, but it makes sense to me - particularly with the high-tension stuff we all love, if one side is weak, the other side has to compensate.

So, I could imagine some type of testing of what you can lift without a belt vs. with a belt might be a measure of ab strength.
I have a similar view regards to the lower back pain and ab strength. Lower back pain in everyday life can easily mean either the lack of ab strength or the lack of knowledge on how to use it. I believe I have experience with the issue myself. Incidentally, I managed to fix the issue without any ab work, but with the big barbell lifts. The kettlebell training I did didn't help as much either, but it may not be due to the tool, but due to the user.

When it comes to the belt, I'm not sure. Personally, I find that the belt enables me to train more without overly fatiguing my lower back. So it is a very useful tool. As it is I'm equally capable of any lift or such with a belt or without one, at least when it comes to strength sets with reps from one to five or so. Though maybe that's not in opposition to your proposition.
 

WhatWouldHulkDo

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When it comes to the belt, I'm not sure. Personally, I find that the belt enables me to train more without overly fatiguing my lower back. So it is a very useful tool. As it is I'm equally capable of any lift or such with a belt or without one, at least when it comes to strength sets with reps from one to five or so. Though maybe that's not in opposition to your proposition.
I certainly don't mean to bad-mouth the belt - like you say, a useful tool. I'm just postulating that, particularly for a barbell devotee, some no-belt work might be a reasonable way to test their abs.
 

wespom9

More than 500 posts
Certified Instructor
Is the ab pavelizer and/or the janda sit up still a recommended thing?
 

Anna C

More than 5000 posts
Elite Certified Instructor
Those of you who who train the abs: how do you know the abs are not strong enough? How do you measure their strength?
"Strong enough" aways needs to be qualified by something. Strong enough for what? Abs strong enough for powerlifting means the abs are strong enough to stablize the torso to support the back and the working muscles to move the weighted bar. For me right now, that's strong enough. But other people may have a different objective, for example, toes-to-bar when hanging on a pull-up bar. I'll admit my abs aren't strong enough for that, though I feel they're really strong in an isometric contraction. So I could make them stronger in a concentric contraction for toes-to-bar. But would that help my lifting? I don't feel like it would, significantly. I might be wrong about that.

In that way, abs are sort of like grip. When is the grip strong enough? When it supports the things you want to use it for and doesn't become your limiter, right? Most people's grip strength will progress along with everything else as they get stronger. Ohters may benefit from a bit of focused attention on the grip during a period when they're not already taxing it to it's limit with their other training.

Things can only get stronger so fast, and can only handle so much stress in order to adapt and get stronger. So you want to add this specific work in the context of how hard you're working that thing already.

So, I could imagine some type of testing of what you can lift without a belt vs. with a belt might be a measure of ab strength.
I don't think the belt has much to do with ab strength. The belt helps stabilize the torso better when you hold the breath and brace the abs for a lift, but it doesn't change anything about what you're doing or how strong your abs are.
 

Antti

More than 2500 posts
"Strong enough" aways needs to be qualified by something. Strong enough for what? Abs strong enough for powerlifting means the abs are strong enough to stablize the torso to support the back and the working muscles to move the weighted bar. For me right now, that's strong enough. But other people may have a different objective, for example, toes-to-bar when hanging on a pull-up bar. I'll admit my abs aren't strong enough for that, though I feel they're really strong in an isometric contraction. So I could make them stronger in a concentric contraction for toes-to-bar. But would that help my lifting? I don't feel like it would, significantly. I might be wrong about that.

In that way, abs are sort of like grip. When is the grip strong enough? When it supports the things you want to use it for and doesn't become your limiter, right? Most people's grip strength will progress along with everything else as they get stronger. Ohters may benefit from a bit of focused attention on the grip during a period when they're not already taxing it to it's limit with their other training.

Things can only get stronger so fast, and can only handle so much stress in order to adapt and get stronger. So you want to add this specific work in the context of how hard you're working that thing already.



I don't think the belt has much to do with ab strength. The belt helps stabilize the torso better when you hold the breath and brace the abs for a lift, but it doesn't change anything about what you're doing or how strong your abs are.
That is pretty much my opinion as well. I'm curious to see how people in different sports and with different goals measure their need for ab strength. I'd expect there to be something, since so many use specific ab training.
 

WhatWouldHulkDo

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That is pretty much my opinion as well. I'm curious to see how people in different sports and with different goals measure their need for ab strength. I'd expect there to be something, since so many use specific ab training.
Lots of good examples in martial arts - ability to kick hard and often, ability to get off the floor quickly, ability to absorb a strike to the midsection. OCR, lots of occasions where you need to support or lift your legs while hanging by your hands.

But, I suspect for most folks, it's just about injury prevention and looking good naked.
 

Antti

More than 2500 posts
Lots of good examples in martial arts - ability to kick hard and often, ability to get off the floor quickly, ability to absorb a strike to the midsection. OCR, lots of occasions where you need to support or lift your legs while hanging by your hands.

But, I suspect for most folks, it's just about injury prevention and looking good naked.
Sure, I don't doubt that the abs aren't useful for those, like the abs are useful for the powerlifts for the powerlifter and useful in every sport and necessary in our lives. But how would the martial artist, in this example, know if the abs are strong enough? That should he use his training time on his abs or something else?
 

WhatWouldHulkDo

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Sure, I don't doubt that the abs aren't useful for those, like the abs are useful for the powerlifts for the powerlifter and useful in every sport and necessary in our lives. But how would the martial artist, in this example, know if the abs are strong enough? That should he use his training time on his abs or something else?
I personally measure a lot of it in fatigue, though I know that's subjective.

How high can I kick? How many kicks can I deliver before I start to lose height? I think leg raises specifically help these - and it's an area where I think I have a deficit, so I guess that is informing some of my training decisions.

How well do I keep moving during a match after getting hit? I think TGU improves this (recognizing that's not just an ab move) - I don't feel like I have a deficit here, but I certainly don't want to regress, so I try to keep a steady diet of TGUs.
 

kennycro@@aol.com

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I certainly don't mean to bad-mouth the belt - like you say, a useful tool. I'm just postulating that, particularly for a barbell devotee, some no-belt work might be a reasonable way to test their abs.
The Ab and The Belt

The Abs don't take a nap when you put on a Belt; the Abs are still working performing an Isometric Action.

Also, the muscle involvement changes when wearing and not wearing a Belt

An electromyographic analysis of sumo and conventional style deadlifts.
Escamilla RF, Francisco AC, Kayes AV, Speer KP, Moorman CT
An electromyographic analysis of sumo and conventional... : Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise

"Compared with the no-belt condition, the belt condition produced significantly greater rectus abdominis activity and significantly less external oblique activity."

Kenny Croxdale
 

vegpedlr

More than 500 posts
@Waryrenn
Thanks for that ab wheel video, that was really helpful.

Also, what is the "Dead Bug" people are referring to? I know something in yoga often called that, but it must be quite different.
 

WhatWouldHulkDo

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"Compared with the no-belt condition, the belt condition produced significantly greater rectus abdominis activity and significantly less external oblique activity."
Completely believe that. No-belt isn't better, it's just different. I guess that's the problem with wastebucket term like abs or core - there's just so much going on in there.

Does seem to say that, for example, if a heavy belt lifter does want to do some specific ab work, they could focus on the spots that get less activation when they've got the belt on, to "even themselves out". But in the end, might not really contribute to lifting heavier.
 

offwidth

More than 5000 posts
That is pretty much my opinion as well. I'm curious to see how people in different sports and with different goals measure their need for ab strength. I'd expect there to be something, since so many use specific ab training.
Hey Antti... in rock climbing; especially at higher grades and severely overhanging terrain strong 'abs' start to come into play in a big way. There is no way to measure how strong is 'strong enough', so I think most people err on the side of more rather than less. The old 'if a little is good then more must be better' gambit. The trap of course is that folks sometimes neglect the posterior chain, and end up with imbalances that can cause injuries or issues at least.
 

kennycro@@aol.com

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Check out the landmine technique here...
Hip Belt Squats | T Nation
Land Mine Hip Belt Squat

I am not a fan, the movement doesn't feel right. There are a multitude of other reason that I don't care for it.

Ben's Loading Pin Recommendation

It fall in line with mine, "One way to get around this is to buy a specialized "loading pin" (Ironmind.com makes a good one) that allows you to stack up to nine plates vertically – far more weight than you'll likely ever need."

Wide Stance Belt Squat

As Ben states, "I used this system and it worked well enough, but I had a few problems. ...you're forced into a really wide stance to give the plates the necessary room to drop between the risers... I found this uncomfortable in the hips as the weights got heavier."

Problem Solved

I had no issues with Wide Stance Belt Squats. However, since one of the keys to making progress is varying exercises; such as going from a Wide Stance to Narrow Stance Squat. To do that with Belt Squats, I have a Powerlifing friend make me some...

Heavy Rack Skies

The Heavy Rack Skies are essentially Snow Skies that anchor on each set of pins in my Power Rack. They allow me to move them from a Wide to Medium To Narrow Belt Squat Stance or Belt Good Morning in about 3 seconds.

I can also change my Belt Squat Angle, performing...

Incline and Decline Belt Squats

Placing one end of the Skies on let's say Rack Pin #4 and the other end of the Skies on Rack Pin #5 allow me to perform an...

1) Uphill Squat: This forces you to sit back in the Belt Squat; greater involvement in the Hamstrings and Glutes.

2) Down Hill Squat: This forces you to Squat in a more upright position; the loading is on the Quads.

The Quad involvement has a similar feeling to Front Squats or High Bar Squat with Olympic Shoes, with heels.

Per Ben, "There are safer and easier options."

That is a questionable statement.

As Per Ben, "Here are my two favorites."

Ben's options are effective exercises. However, they pail in comparison to Heavy Belt Squat.

Neither of Ben's favorite exercise allows you to use enough weight to increase your Limit Squat Strength.

Ben's essentially stated that, "...a specialized "loading pin" (Ironmind.com makes a good one) that allows you to stack up to nine plates vertically – far more weight than you'll likely ever need."

Kenny Croxdale
 

Philippe Geoffrion

More than 500 posts
I do not perform much direct ab work, but alas I also have a short torso. I've never found my midsection to be the weak link in squats and deads and they receive plenty of work from these I believe. Chins, Carries, swings, overhead work and Zerchers also hit the core pretty hard, granted you perform them in an optimal manner. I've been throwing in hanging leg raises, but this is mainly to help decompress my spine after heavy deadlift work. I recall an anecdote about Franco Columbu hating direct ab work he decided that instead of doing any direct work, he'd squeeze them hard during many of his other movements. He was also one of the strongest and most muscular SOB's to grace the planet. A renaissance lifter, no doubt. The rest is history.
 
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