If you want to get six pack abs or a toned stomach, this article will show the simplest way to do it.
Getting six pack abs is simple, but not easy.
I bet you see six pack abs’ adverts every other day. The fitness industry is filled with ab products and machines. But I hate to break it to you – none of these products are the key to six pack abs or a flat stomach.
Unfortunately, most people who train for abs never get them. On the flip side, most people with six pack abs never purposely trained for them. For most of us, six pack abs are a reward for eating healthy and exercising regularly. It is not the main reason why we started training.
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Honestly, if your only goal is to get ripped six pack abs or get rid of belly fat. Chances are you will fail – you won’t get ripped abs at all, or you won’t maintain them for long.
Thing is, getting abs takes, patience, effort, changing habits, discipline and consistency. In fact, if you are not willing to do all those things, don’t even waste your time reading this article.
Six pack abs and poor eating habits don’t go together. Heavy drinking, eating junk food, skipping workouts, are habits you should avoid. You’ll have to start living a healthy lifestyle to keep six pack abs long term.
Anybody who sells you a “get six pack abs in a month” program is a scam. Nobody can tell you for sure how long it will take to get six pack abs. It depends on where you are right now.
So, learn to manage your expectations. Aim high but be realistic, if you have been overweight and sedentary most of your life, don’t expect to get six pack abs in 6 weeks.
There is a lot of misleading information out there. Just to clarify things, you won’t get six pack abs by:
*Doing 1,000 crunches everyday
*Eating certain types of foods, supplements and pills
*Using Ab-enhancer or any other six pack machine/product
*Doing 1 hour cardio everyday
Before I show you how to get a six pack, let’s look into abdominal muscles anatomy.
Six pack abs are made up of a muscle called the rectus abdominis. This is a vertical muscle which attaches the rib cage to the anterior portion of your pelvis.
There are tendinous inscriptions (horizontal lines) which divide the abs to 4, 6 or 8 packs. The number of horizontal lines in the rectus abdominis vary from person to person. Those lines will determine how your abs will look like..
Even though it’s harder for women to get six pack abs. Their approach shouldn’t be any different from men’s.
Getting ripped six pack abs comes down to three things:
Body fat percentage
Size of abdominal muscles
For most people, body fat percentage seems to be the main obstacle to six pack abs.
Body fat percentage
Abs are only visible when the body fat percentage is low. For men they are visible at 10% body fat and 16% body fat for women. These percentages may vary depending on one’s body fat distribution.
Doing ab exercise will build abdominal muscles but if your body fat percentage is high, they will be covered by the excess fat.
One needs to lower body fat percentage first before they start ab training. First, find out your current body fat percentage then work on reducing it.
Body fat percentage can only be reduced through proper nutrition and exercising regularly.
The goal here is to lose as much body fat as possible while maintaining or gaining lean muscle mass. Combining strength training and calorie deficit is an approach that always works.
While it’s not necessary to know the exact number of calories you consume, have a rough estimate of your daily caloric intake.
Maintain a calorie deficit but eat enough to lose fat and keep your resting metabolic rate up. Starvation and deprivation is not good for fat loss. Some folks skip meals thinking it will help them lose belly fat fast. This slows down metabolism and leads to lose of lean muscle mass.
If you want to lose 1lb or 0.5 kg per week, maintain a daily deficit of 500 calories. Slower weight loss helps retain more lean muscle mass.
A skinny person should take a different approach. Depending on how skinny you are. If you are this skinny maintain a calorie surplus and do strength training.
For someone who is this skinny eat a maintenance diet and do ab training.
When I talk of exercise I’m sure most people think of ab exercises. Even though ab training has its place, as you will see later, full body training is more important. You have a few training options:
Everybody should do strength training, young, old, male, female…… Its advantages go beyond building muscle and burning fat.
Bodyweight exercises alone will give you all the benefits. Instead of doing ab exercises, focus on the bigger compound movements. Exercises like squats, lunges, pull ups, push ups, burpees and mountain climbers. Compound movements burn more fat and will get you leaner faster. Additionally, these exercises use the core and therefore develop the abs in the process.
High intensity interval training (HIIT)
There are several high intensity interval training workouts. Choose the one that fits your strength level and start there.
For someone who doesn’t have much time to exercise HIIT will help. The workout is done in less than 10 minutes. HIIT also helps increase muscle mass, improve cardiovascular health and boost resting metabolic rate.
If you can’t keep up with high intensity training, steady cardio will also help burn fat.
30-40 minute sessions are enough to improve cardiovascular health and burn calories. But you may still want to do strength training to your cardio routine. Cardio doesn’t help build muscle, combing it with strength training will bring better results.
Avoid overdoing it, though. Excess cardio puts stress on the body which may lead to loss of lean muscle mass and increased risk of joint wear and tear. Think about it, how aesthetic do those marathon runners look?
Actually, you can use a jump rope for either steady cardio or HIIT.
Hill sprints are great. You only need a steep hill which is about 30 meters long.
Hill sprinting will help build leg muscles, improve cardiovascular health and burn fat. Start with 10 sprints then add 1 or 2 sprints in every workout.
Other important things
Drink lots of water
Most people know they should drink water but they don’t. Drinking at least 8 glasses of water everyday will make a big difference.
Drinking water increases weight loss and reduces food intake. Drinking a lot of water at once doesn’t work well for most people. So, drink a glass before and after a meal and also in between meals. Carrying a bottle of water with you will increase your water intake.
Actually this study shows that water increases fat loss faster by 44%.
Rule: Drink water after every 2 hours. And avoid drinking calorie containing beverages.
Get enough sleep
It is recommended adults sleep for more than 7 hours everyday.
Read these articles for more information on fat loss and getting lean.
Track your progress
To lose fat fast, you need to track your progress. It’s the only way to know if you are making improvements.
If you are serious about reducing body fat, you have to track the percentages. Measure your body fat percentage after every two weeks. Keep a log of your diet and exercise until you start making consistent progress.
Experiment, try switching thing up, give up what’s not working – do more of what is working!
Building abdominal muscles and a strong core
Getting lean doesn’t guarantee six pack abs. You will need to do exercises to make the abs visible and blocky. But don’t overdo it. Abs are the most over-trained muscles. Training abs for 7 days won’t bring the best results. Remember, the muscle need time to rest and recover.
Training ab muscles 2-3 times a week for 10-15 minutes each session, is enough to get six pack abs. It’s preferable you train abs at the end of the workout.
Exercises like cruches and sit ups don’t have enough resistance to develop blocky abs. Doing 15 reps of ab exercises with a lot of resistance is more effective than doing hundred crunches.
When training the abs and the core, safety is very important. Avoid exercises which put pressure on the spine and hurt the back.
To get a complete six pack. Do exercises that target both upper and lower abdominal muscles.
Here are the best and safest ab exercises for getting a six pack.
Bicycles are a great beginner ab exercise. Done correctly, bicycles will build ab definition and the strength you need to do more advanced ab exercises.
Learn how to perform bicycles
Hanging leg raises
The hanging leg raises train both the upper and lower abs. It is important you don’t do this exercise with an arched back. Curve it as you raise the legs. Use hanging elbow straps if you can’t hang for long.
Learn how to perform hanging leg raises.
Hanging knee raises
This is somehow similar to the hanging leg raises, but the knees will be bent. This exercise is a little easier because it reduces the amount of weight you are lifting.
Learn how to perform hanging knee raises
Lying leg thrusts
This exercise targets the lower abdominal muscles more.
Learn how to perform lying leg thrust
This exercise requires balance and strength. You are supposed to lift the legs and upper body at the same time.
Learn how to perform V-Ups
The ab wheel rollout
This is a more advanced ab exercise. It is also great for increasing core strength.
Learn how to perform ab wheel rollout
This is a full body exercise and a great core activator. You can do it as an ab exercise or do it as a warm up exercise.
Learn how to perform mountain climbers
These exercises are enough to give you ripped six pack abs. You only need to have a low body fat percentage and stay consistent with your workouts.
If you can do more than 20 reps of any ab exercise move up to a harder exercise or variation.
Your genetics determine how your rectus abdominis is formed.
Not everybody can have 6-pack or 8-pack abs. Some people don’t have the tendon structure in their abdominals to get six pack abs.
That’s why you will find some guys who are lean and train abs but they only have 4-pack abs. It’s not possible to change how the muscles are developed. You can only improve how visible and blocky the ab muscles are.
Six pack abs for women
Nowadays, it not rare to see women with six pack abs. For a woman to get abs, she has to be very lean. In some cases, this affects their health and fertility.
These health problems are experienced on different body fat percentages, depending on the person. It is not advisable for someone who wants to get pregnant soon to be very lean.
Low body fat percentage can also lead to missing menstrual cycles.
When you start off the right foot, getting six pack abs won’t be hard. Most people never get abs because they do ab training only and expect to see ab definition. Reducing body fat percentage is the most important thing.
Getting six pack abs is a great goal, but it shouldn’t be your only goal. Work on improving your overall health and fitness.
Is there anything stopping you from getting six pack abs? Leave a comment below.