In my daily life as a personal trainer, I field a ton of questions from my clients. For the most part, women want to know how to tone their legs and butts. Surprisingly, the men are all about the abs. Who thinks six pack abdominals are attractive? Well, the fact is a lot of people do. Every fitness infomercial promotes “get abs quick” schemes. I guess all the ab talk has people wondering if it’s really true that they can get a washboard stomach with ripped abs in just 20 days with a special machine. The question we should be asking is “How do I lose stomach fat?” Well, I don’t think a certain method or apparatus will get you a leaner and tighter stomach faster. If you are consistently putting in hard work and dedication then any thing is possible. Having a nice flat stomach takes some time. Many people assume that they can do thousands of sit-ups and then a flat stomach will magically appear. The reality is that training is only a small part of achieving it. While I don’t subscribe to any one particular method, if you are consistently putting in the hard work and following my suggestions below, I really believe you can achieve great abs!
Crunches, planks, leg lifts, and sit-ups are all fantastic exercises that build up the muscles of the abdominal wall. People who sport six-pack abs have done thousands of repetitions of these exercises. These exercises are important and you want to put the time into them so you can developing those muscles. Once the fat starts to melt away (along with diet and cardio), these exercises will define the muscles and give you that sleek and sexy six pack abs look.
In order to sharpen and define your abs, the bottom line is that you simply need to lose overall body fat. My first suggestion is that you do cardiovascular activity to burn excess calories. Cardio is very important in decreasing body fat levels and it’s a crucial component in your quest for a shredded stomach. The belief in spot reducing doesn’t exist and lots of people get caught up in believing that they can do 5,000 sit-ups every single day while eating junk food and eventually those 6 pack abs will show up. Nope, it’s not going to happen this way and you need to learn that now so you can get on the right path to reaching your fitness goals.
For cardio exercises, running is a great place to start because it burns tons of calories in the shortest amount of time. Most people don’t relate running as an ab exercise but it really is because your overall goal is to burn up excess fat and running is one of the best exercises to include in your program if you are healthy enough to do it. Running is great unless you have existing knee, hip or shin problems. Running works your whole body but really targets your legs, butt and abs very well. When you inhale and exhale, your lunges expand and contract working your entire cardiovascular system. You can burn up to 400 calories after just 30 minutes of running. Other cardiovascular activities like jumping rope, swimming, cycling and tennis are all great at getting your heart rate up and burning calories.
But doing cardio alone won’t get you those lean and ripped abs. The old saying goes, “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet” and this is so true when it comes to achieving a tight and toned stomach. No matter how much cardio you do every single day, you will ruin all of your efforts for losing fat if you mess it up with your diet. Just think about it for a moment and do the math. If running for 30 minutes burns about 400 calories, how quickly can you add back those 400 calories by eating a tasty bacon double cheeseburger at your favorite fast food restaurant? I would say it probably only takes about 5 minutes! The trick is to burn more calories than you are eating. The foods you eat are much more important than the exercises you do. You can do all the exercises you want, but if you’re not eating the right foods don’t expect to get good results.
Foods like lean meats, fruits and vegetables need to be a big part of your abdominal assault. Foods high in sugar and fat will be your enemy as they will add to the problem you’re trying to fix. There are multiple meal programs and diet plans out there to follow. We all want instant gratification but this is not the mindset you want to take in your journey to six pack abs. I try to hammer it into my clients that moderation and consistency are the keys to success and to try to avoid expecting major results after only a week or two. The body doesn’t work like that! You can try to kick, lift, punch and twist your way to better abs but if you don’t do what is necessary in the kitchen, you are working backwards. Being hydrated is another important factor with achieving a tighter waistline. Water helps to keep you full during the day and helps your metabolism run faster so you can burn more fat. Stay away from sugary soft drinks like sodas and juices which can spike your insulin levels and pack on fat fast. Focus on drinking at least one gallon of water per day for optimal hydration.
There are so many ab exercises you can do to build up the abdominal wall but you need to know when and how to train them in order to achieve amazing results. The abdominal muscles are just like any other muscle group in the body and they need time to recover fully after a hard workout. This means that you should avoid training your abs every day! Try to give them at least 24 hours of complete rest between workouts and if you’re still sore after this amount of time, make sure to take another full day off. If you feel soreness in any muscle group then that is your body telling you that it has not recovered yet and needs more time to rest up. The key is to hit your abs hard on the days you train them and then allow optimal time for them to fully repair themselves before hitting them again. You also don’t specifically need to use weights in order to build up your abs. There are dozens of great abdominal bodyweight exercises you can use to really target your abs extremely well!
Every muscle in your body works the same way when it comes to resistance. If a muscle is stressed repetitively, it will get bigger and stronger (to a point). The fitness competitors you see in the magazines with shredded stomachs and ripped six pack abs have trained their abs hard but the main reason they look so amazing is because they have eliminated the majority of the body fat that surrounds their midsection in order to have paper-thin skin over their abdominal muscles (called the “Saran wrap” look). Remember that every person has six pack abs, it’s just a matter of reducing the fat above the muscles in order for them to pop out!
As long as you understand the basic principles of activity, eating healthy and drinking water, you will see great results in your quest for a set of impressive six pack abs. It just takes time, hard work and a ton of dedication but you can do it! Stay focused and always try to be positive even if you get sidetracked and slack on your diet or training. Everyone slips up once in a while and it’s not going to ruin your entire program. Get right back on track and keep working hard for those lean and shredded washboard abs!