Want six-pack success? The right mix of fat-blasting exercises and a lean, mean diet will get you there.
We all have six-pack abs, but making the most of them is a case of stripping away unwanted fat and building and toning the muscle to improve its appearance. This is achieved by creating a deficit between the number of calories you are consuming and the amount you burn through exercise. Following the right diet and including ab exercises in your workouts two or three times a week will help to make them stand out and appear more defined.
1. Know your body
The rectus abdomens – also known as ‘abs’ – is the long, thin muscle in front of the abdomen that lies closest to the skin. It’s divided by bands of tendons that give the six-pack appearance. In some cases an eight-pack can be achieved, however this all depends on how hard you workout.
2. Avoid common exercise mistakes
Many people make fundamental errors when trying to get a six-pack. Make sure you adhere to the following whilst trying to achieve perfect abs:
- Don’t perform hundreds of repetitions
Performing hundreds of repetitions doesn’t burn the fat in your midsection. Train your abs like any other muscle and do no more than 15 reps per set.
- Don’t forget the lower portion of the abs
Exercises such as leg raises emphasise the lower portion and are essential to achieving a defined six-pack.
- Don’t perform ab exercises every day
Your abs need time to recover between workouts in order to become stronger and more defined.
- Don’t perform reps to quickly
The faster you complete each rep the more momentum you use and the less the muscle works.
- Don’t forget to perform lower back exercises
Because muscle groups work in opposite pairs, train them equally to prevent injuries and imbalances.
3. Work out the right way
How you work out can be just as important as how often you work out. Try the following to achieve maximum results from your ab workout routine:
- Do your ab exercises at the start of your workout
This is when you are mentally and physically fresh.
- Do no more than 3 ab workouts a week
Take at least one day or rest between each ab workout.
- Make progression
If you can easily perform 15 reps make the exercise more difficult, e.g. add a weight whilst performing ab crunches or raise your legs whilst crunching
- Contract your abs during a workout
This way you can be sure the muscle is working with each rep.
- Vary positions
Try standing rotations (e.g the woodchopper) plus exercises on your back (crunches) or on your front whilst performing the plank.
4. Eat the right food
Making sure you have the right amount of nutrition for a six-pack:
- Our bodies are designed to need all food groups for optimal health. When building muscle you need to increase your protein. This will boost your metabolism and therefore your fat loss. Your daily protein intake should be between 1.2-1.8kg per kg of body weight when exercising three to five times a week; e.g. an 80kg man should aim for around 96-144g daily.
- Don’t eliminate fats and carbohydrates. Fats and carbs are your body’s primary source of energy and work collectively with protein to keep you fit. Eat low-GI carbohydrates so that your body releases its sugar slowly and effectively, rather than causing your blood sugar to spike and thereby storing it as fat.
- Ensure your daily fat intake is no more than 20% of your daily diet (1g fat = 9 cals), with sat fats kept to a minimum.
- Drink plenty of water. Not only will you be well-hydrated throughout the day, but it’ll boost your metabolism, too.
5. Don’t forget to refuel
Getting lean abs couldn’t be easier. When training hard you need to refuel as quickly as possible, ideally within 30 minutes as your muscles and energy levels need to recover and rebuild for best results. Have a smoothie or protein shake (within your daily calorie intake) which contains electrolytes and a balance of carbs and protein that together are needed for growth and repair.