Are you yearning for that summer six pack?
Well I’ve got some news for you, it’s not easy to get. But that’s part of the appeal, isn’t it?
If you’re ready for the challenge, we’ve got the perfect exercises and nutritional advice to help you get those washboard abs.
It all starts and ends in the kitchen.
Most people think that abs are made in the weight room – And they’re half right, the sculpting is done in the weight room. But just as sculptors need a stone with the right composition to carve a masterpiece, your body also needs the right composition if you want to carve out those abs. And that work, is done in the kitchen.
If you want that six pack to show, you need to get rid of the fat around your gut. This makes controlling your calorie intake vital to your success.
To get rid of that stored, calculate your Total Daily Energy Expenditure/TDEE (the amount of calories you burn each day), and make sure you consume less than that to burn up your stored fat.
So, we need to burn off excess weight to get the six pack to show. But how do we make sure that the weight comes off as fat and not our hard-earned muscle?
Research has shown that eating adequate amounts of protein helps to spare our muscle, and can also help to increase our weight loss.
As a good rule of thumb aim to consume 1.5 grams of protein per pound of your body weight, and consume 20 grams of protein pre-workout and another 20 grams of protein in your post-workout meal.
It’s hard to ignore those feelings of hunger when you’re going hard at the gym but also trying to keep a calorie deficit. Eating a good amount of fibre is a great way to feel full for longer.
Fibre can also boost weight loss and improve your gut health.
Aim for around 30g of fibre per day, preferably from whole food sources like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and beans.
Carbohydrates & Fat
How to handle carbs and fat is not a straight forward question to answer. People have seen great results following low carb/high fat diets (keto) and high carb/low fat diets. As long as you keep your protein intake high, and eat less calories than you burn, either diet can work.
Some research has shown that following a keto (low carb diet) is great for targeting fat while sparing muscle, so for our purposes, this may be the diet choice for the best results.
It is essential that you stay hydrated if you want to build muscle and perform optimally at the gym.
Water helps protect our joints, reduces fatigue and fluid retention, and transports nutrients to our cells to help them repair.
For an average person, 8-12 cups of water a day is generally enough, but for an active person, this amount is far too low.
Dependent on your size and rate of perspiration, you could be losing 4 or more cups of water per hour of exercise.
So, pay attention to your body and stay hydrated, to avoid joint injury, muscle cramps and to provide your cells with the repair materials they need.
Here’s the good news: If you can stand up straight, you’ve got abs. Okay, they might not be the perfect summer ones with a v taper like you want, but they’re there. We just need to carve them out using the correct exercises.
Truth be told, there is no single perfect ab workout. Each ab exercise works differently, so creating an ab routine that incorporates each of the following exercises will get give you nice, even set of abs and oblique’s, where nothing is favourited and everything is targeted.
In 2001, the American Council of Exercise (ACE) set out find exactly what the best core exercise was. After comparing 13 different exercises, the bicycle crunch was found to bring the most abdominal muscle into play (upper and lower abs, and obliques), and under the most intensity.
Once you need to up the anti, try the elevated bicycle, which is done by lying on a bench. You’ll have to raise your leg further to meet your torso, and you’ll have to increase your hip mobility.
Pullups should be part of your core six pack workout. Yes, you read that right.
Pullups are the king of exercises that work more than just your upper body and arms. A lot of muscles are needed to get your chin over the bar, including your abdominals which work hard to stabilize your lower body and spine. You’ll have trouble keeping good form until your core is as strong as a bull, so doing these will do wonders for building your core strength up.
On top of this, since pullups work so many different muscles, they are also true calorie killers and put your metabolism into overdrive.
Standing Ab Wheel Rollout
This is a truly advanced exercise, that challenges your core stability as your body extends. To keep yourself steady while doing this, tighten your core as if you were anticipating a punch.
To prevent injury, squeeze your glutes as you’re moving to prevent your lower back from arching.
The pendulum hits your lower abdominal muscles and obliques using straight legs and a swinging motion at your core. For maximum benefit, do the exercise slowly and lower your feet as far as possible.
Once you need to up the intensity, do it with a dumbbell help between your feet for added difficulty.
The pallof press is a perfect exercise for the obliques, that forces you resist movement of the spine, developing and strengthening this often-overlooked area of the core in the process.
Tighten your core and keep your hips and shoulders square and forward facing to maintain perfect form when doing this exercise.