Getting the illustrious Six Pack is one thing we all strive for. Being able to walk down the beach, confident in going yep "I've definitely got what I want."A nicely toned mid-section or Six Pack, feeling good, sun is shining and something worth showing off. Most people say they just want to be in shape, look a little athletic and don't mind not having the washboard. But they do, we all do; that's what we all want.
Most of us will always get a good shape top and bottom; good chest and good legs, but it’s the in-between part that seems to go amiss. What’s going wrong? There's a lot of talk about how to achieve a Six Pack, some right, some wrong (mostly wrong), and people do try their hardest to get them in a different manner of efforts and ways.
But the one thing it boils down to, we say is 3 things:
1) Simple basics, are you doing them?
2) Are you eating well or are you eating for a Six Pack - they're two different standards of eating.
3) How long have you been doing it? Time served, is our golden rule, you have to put in the graft for longer to expect an above average result.
1) Train abs daily.
Abdominals are a unique muscle group and there's plenty of them. Treating them as ordinary muscle groups that you may only train once a week isn't enough to develop them fully. Abs are made up of top, middle, bottom, inside muscles (core) and outside ones too. Your workouts have to be planned to cover all of them, almost daily, in order to have any chance of building that wash board; otherwise you will just end up with two little abs at the top from all those thousands of crunches you've been doing - and that time could of been used better.
In order to give your abs the best chance of succeeding we recommend placing one section of your abs with another muscle groups at least 3-4 times per week. For example: chest and abs, back and abs or even legs and abs. As a general rule of thumb, work them out before or after each time you train. Secondly remember as with any muscle, they condition, become stronger and more tolerant quickly. The frequency of training abs has to increase to match it. By the time you're a roman statue you can expect to be doing 10-15 minutes of abs every day. But this isn't much relatively, and the best part is a strong core will make your performance go through the roof. After experiencing this you easily take more pride in maintaining them.
2) Diet: simple, practical and lean.
You have to face it; getting abdominals is an extreme look. Although easy on the eye, we're not designed to be ripped and look like Gods; we're designed to hold fat and conserve energy. With that in mind, layman training and average efforts have to be dropped and a more serious approach has to come in.
Think of a Six Pack or wash board stomach as an advanced look. It's an upgrade that requires more work and attention in order to achieve it. In some ways it's a promotion, if that's how you want to look at it, that requires more investment. And it's this work ethic that has to be reflected in both your diet and training to move to that next level. For most, just by eating well and staying healthy is the breadline and as far as you may go. But in terms of getting advanced results; eating an averagely healthy diet doesn't equate to these results, whereas eating for a specific outcome does. If you want a better mid-section, your food has to be tuned towards that goal and no longer the balancing nature, as that’s what it requires.
Abs generally make an appearance between 12-15% body fat. So the lower you get it the better they will show. Getting your fat low practically speaking is all about momentum as well as diet. If you can make your diet work by keeping it lean, simple and practical, then you have a much bigger chance of succeeding. Basically, you're making it easier on yourself to sustain a longer term diet.
Leaner. Yes you have to reduce your calorie intake massively. It isn't so much about eating all kinds of crazy proteins and nutrients and being swallowed up in another fad diet. There's a simple science for fat loss and it's called a calorie deficit. Eat less, train more and create a bigger divide, simple. And the longer you keep this up for the quicker you accelerate results, and start losing inches not pounds. One thing to look out for is when you are making changes, you might actually no longer notice weight loss, as your body does eventually equalise. It’s better to see inches are coming off, and that's a much better place to be as it means you're toning up and changing shape too.
Simple. Create a food plate that's easier to eat than it is to look at - remember that one.
Variation is the spice of life, but isn't the spice of a Six Pack. Changing your food all the time to keep you interested, although seems rational, isn't the best way to go about it. The most successful people you speak to who have mastered their body will tell you; you have to create a food system that works and repeat it. If you're constantly chopping and changing your meals, although healthy; this will inevitably lead to you not getting your optimum goals. When you have achieved your goals then yes, there's of course room for flexibility.
You should find what we call your master food. The food that seems to have given you the best results so far. Your master food will be dishes that: taste great, have the right portion amount and what you can eat again with only little change. For example stir fry's; you can cook them a 100 ways. Soups - they're easy and versatile. Eggs, easy to cook easy to season, you get the idea. Never get caught up with variation, you may variate yourself out of results. Optimum results will come when your body can expect what's coming next. Your energy levels, your digestion cycles and stress levels will all remain the same and won't be potentially affected from different sugar levels or energy amounts from different food all the time.
Practical. The success behind any good body and the elusive abs is a regime that works for you. Being organised is a given, but making that part of the process as easy on yourself as possible is a must. As mentioned in the simple section; foods should be easy to prep and practical in real life. When you're on a health kick you will inevitably always have to do some meal prep and take a lunch box to work with you. But contrary to the level most people go to, you don't have to take 20 of them with you, it's just unrealistic.
Always try to eat your breakfast and dinner at home then all you have to be organised for is lunch and the odd day time snack. Lunch can be what you choose, such as a salad or another high protein, low carb meal. And snacks will always be smaller and high protein like meat, or fruit which you can get on the go. You don't have to get tied down with the monotony of taking 6 tubs of food with you everywhere you go. Get practical, choose foods which are going to work easier in your busy regime. Equally some people like the Tupperware way, it gives a better sense of purpose and involvement - so which ever works for you.
3) Grow your ab muscles with weights
Weight training for abs is like water to a plant. They're not going to grow without it. As with all body parts in trying to develop them; general conditioning i.e doing 1000 crunches a day isn't enough to get this level of results. You have to build your ab muscles like any of the muscle groups and focus on what you have to do for them specifically.
Resistance exercises for abs will overload and target them deeper than traditional bodyweight exercises. Abs can be difficult to engage sometimes, so adding resistance makes you work harder and promotes them to grow. Machines such as: abs crunches machine: the pull up tower, for hanging knee raises are excellent. Also using a mix of cable machines with various attachments too to pull into your abs works too. You will achieve a more varied and effective core workout this way and you will definitely feel it more the next day. That's not a bad thing.
Trial which reps range work for you, but we always recommend choosing a middle weight about 50% and doing high reps. Strength training for your abs the same way you may on for legs, doesn't offer any benefit. Going too heavy on abs just runs a risk of injury. Focus on endurance and slower increases to the increments, such as 1kg - 2kg every few weeks - that's plenty, when it comes to abs less weight is more. As true technique goes, always take your time on resistance exercises; never jerk forward on anything, it's all about control. This will send your core through the roof on top of developing the aesthetic look you want too. Weight training is paramount for getting abs for women and men. And the earlier you can introduce it into your training the better and more assistance it offers in reducing fat and tightening everything up.
4) Drink water never be dehydrated
Water level relates to how lean you will be. Consequently if you're dehydrated you actually store more water it's just how you work. Being hydrated should be on par with your dieting effort level. Always aim to get through a minimum of a 2 litre bottle once a day. The plus of this is your attention levels will go up, your skin will be shiny and in general you will have a kick in your step.
Avoid coffees, try lemon juices and other alternatives as much as you can. Coffee dehydrates you and also fluctuates you're energy unnecessarily throughout the day. This leads to uneven blood sugar levels, to then storing fat and holding water. Water is always the best option and you can add some beautiful tasting detoxing flavours too. Add lemon, lime and mint leaves into your bottle of water and you'll find yourself with a unexpectedly great tasting hydration drink that refreshes your skin within days, it takes the edge off with dieting too. The sweetness in the lime, does a lot for you when dieting.
Take on these golden rules and you will be ab-ing a good time
Getting your washboard look is a combination of a few actions. We mostly say, diet is king but consistency is queen. Your mind set is everything and generally the longer you give it, the more it pays off. If you have been 100% consistent for 6- 8 weeks, you should be on your way to great results. However if you stop and start with cheat meals before you get these results, you most likely won't get them at all. Once you have momentum and the ball is rolling you'll be overly motivated to take it to the next level. So focus, find foods which taste great and become favourites.
Taking a healthy balance, your ultimate goals are feasible. You always have to be prepared to step out of your comfort zone and work harder, take things further, diet longer and do more reps and of course enjoy the process too.
You can always be the best version of yourself; you just have to want it bad enough. Get in your zone, be humble be happy. Focus on yourself, get a little selfish sometimes and get the best results of your life.
David is a leading personal trainer from Prestige Fitness, one of world's leading personal training companies. For more workout plans, training tips and personal programs visit Prestige fitness. :)