How to Get a 6-Pack
Are you looking to get a nice six-pack of abs this summer? Do you know what it takes to get those ab muscles bulging? Do you know how to lose that belly fat?
Are you ready to show off your abs?
We all want those nice looking, six-pack abs that everyone stares at, but few people know how to get them. There are just too many ab myths around to sort through for people to really the truth of how to get a nice pair of abdominals. Some people say it’s all diet, while others say diet doesn’t matter. Too many people believe that if you just do a bunch of abdominal exercises you will get those abs popping while others say you don’t need to train them at all. A lot of people also believe it is all about genetics, and how fit your parents were. So with all these beliefs, which one is it? How do we get those nice looking abs? The truth is, most of those beliefs are true. However, doing only one of those things will not give you those nice looking abs we all want. It takes a lot of things added together to get yourself a pair of abdominals that really show.
“It takes a lot of things added together to get yourself a pair of abdominals that really show.”
First and foremost, many people believe that weight loss is 70% diet and 30% exercise. This is absolutely NOT TRUE. How can it be? Diet only adds in calories while exercise takes away calories. Plus, exercise gives you long lasting benefits, including metabolic effects that can continue burning off calories long after your workout ends. Therefore, the main piece to any weight loss, or transformation plan MUST BE EXERCISE. With that said, you also need to exercise at least 5 days per week, if not everyday. By exercising often, especially on a daily basis, you are constantly burning off calories and gaining the muscular benefits of exercise. When training that frequently (at least 5 days per week), most of the exercises you do should be only of moderate intensity. The minimum amount you need to do is 30-60 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, that keeps your heart rate up to where it is difficult to breathe the entire time. Examples are running, cycling or a circuit at the gym with minimal rest periods. You can also do bodyweight exercises or any other form of exercise that keeps you moving the whole time. Focus on keeping your heart rate up. If you have a lot of belly fat to remove in order to see your developed abdominals, you should consider doing high intensity interval training 2-3 days per week. It has been found that high intensity training done 2-3 days per week, in the form of sprinting, burns the most belly fat the fastest. It is best to do sprints, but you can also do other forms of high intensity cardio training such as cycling or jump roping. With any exercise you do, it MUST BE INTENSE. An example is sprinting for 20-30 seconds, then resting for up to a minute. You can also do shorter and longer rest periods, but a 1:2 work to rest ratio works well with high intensity exercise. Again, this should only be done 2-3 days per week, and take the place of your moderate intensity exercise for that day. However you choose to do your daily exercise, just remember that it is the main piece to any weight loss, transformation or 6-pack plan, but there is still more to it.
“…you also need to exercise at least 5 days per week, if not everyday.”
The next most important piece, is diet. Your diet is important and plays a major role in fat loss; but it is not the main piece. You cannot eat your way to a 6-pack from a high body fat state, without the use of exercise. Again, diet can only add in calories, it does not take them away. Also, there is nothing magic about your diet that is going to suddenly make you lose fat/weight. It is as simple as calories in, versus calories out. If you eat more calories than you lose from exercise, you will gain weight/fat. If you eat less calories that you use daily, you will lose weight. When you lose this weight, however, you are more likely to lose muscle than fat, unless you give your body a reason to maintain the muscle mass you have. This is because muscle is hard for your body to maintain, so your body tries to rid of any extra muscle mass that is not important for survival. That is why it is important to do some amount of strength training, or resistance exercise, while on your diet. This will give your body a reason to maintain muscle mass and just burn off fat. The strength training you do does not need to be highly intense, and can be done as part of your training circuit at the gym. If you choose to do that, do 10-15 repetitions per exercise and do compound (multi-joint) exercises that use multiple muscle groups for the greatest results. Things like squats, deadlifts and presses. Strength training should be utilized 3-6 days per week and be added to your other exercise activities, which are done afterwards. Your diet should also not consist of high density foods with a lot of calories, such as ice cream, cheesecake or other high calorie desserts. Also, avoid added sugars, because these change your hormones to where you will end up retaining, if not gaining more body fat. You can have some treats, but limit yourself to one day per week that you have something very sugary. Also, avoid drinking your calories in things such as juices or alcohol. These add up calories quickly. Try to eat a good combination of healthy, nutrient dense foods, such as meat (white and dark), fruit, and vegetables. Also, try not to overindulge in too many fruits or nuts all day, as those add up calories quickly as well. Eat a wide variety of healthy foods, and just keep track of your overall caloric intake. That is the second piece to the puzzle.
A third, and smaller piece to the puzzle is Genetics. Diet and exercise are the main pieces that take up most of the efforts, but you also need to think of other factors. Genetics is an important factor. Some of us are more predisposed to have less muscle growth and more abdominal fat. Some of us have very clean cut looking abs, almost naturally while others may not ever see them. The genetics we have effect our metabolism to some degree and also shape how our abs look. So genetics is mentionable as a factor. Also, you should train your abdominals for hypertrophy (size) if you want them to stick out more. Even through layers of fat, large abdominal muscles can give you some base look of a 6-pack. So train your abdominals, not so much with high repetitions like a cardio session, but more like other muscle groups, such as the biceps. Do 3-4 sets of 10-15 repetitions of abdominal exercises that are difficult for you, 3-4 days per week. It would be best is these were weighted exercises such as weighted crunches or hanging leg raises. You can see more exercises and their “how to” descriptions here Ab and Core Exercises.
“Sleep is very important for not only recovery from exercise, but also to regulate your hormones and rid you of unnecessary stress.”
The final extra piece that needs to be mentioned is sleep. Sleep is very important for not only recovery from exercise, but also to regulate your hormones and rid you of unnecessary stress. Stress leads to increased abdominal fat, and sleep alone can help greatly in decreasing your stress levels. So make sure you are getting an absolute minimum of 7 hours of sleep, but 8-9 hours per day is best. Of course, there are many other small factors that can be added in to your 6-pack plan, but these are the main ones.
So there you have it! Your very own guide on how to obtain those sought after 6-pack abs. Now all you have to do is apply it! You have to choose to go out and exercise on a daily basis. You have to choose to make a change in your diet and eat only what will help you reach your goal. You have to choose to put all the pieces together, such as getting to sleep on time everyday. You have to choose to go after the goals you set and achieve them. Just remember, to work towards your goals everyday, and you will soon reach the mountain top, ready to look for the next one! Now, go change your world!
Keep getting STRONGer my friends!
Strength to you,
The STRONGer Coach- Ryan Mathias, CPT
Owner and Creator
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