For a lot of people, a sculpted six pack is a dream that they will spend hours in the gym, do thousands of crunches, and follow a strict diet working toward. A rock hard set of abs is the ultimate, and unfortunately, it is one of the hardest parts of the body to develop. It's surprisingly common for people to put in epic amounts of training and excruciating effort without seeing the results that they want. So what is the key to developing abs?
Our High Intensity Ab Workout Video Shows You Some Great Exercises
Get Abs Fast?
Unfortunately there are no magic pills, exercises, or quick fixes that will give you a six pack overnight. Genetics does come into play, and like all things in life, some people will find it easier to tone and define their midsection than others. It's super simple, but the real key to getting a well defined midsection is exercise and diet.
If you want defined abdominal muscles that pop, you need to add lean muscle.Your abdominals respond to training just like any other muscle in your body, so challenging these muscles with weight bearing exercise is the key to hypertrophy. Doing low impact, repetitive activities like crunches is a great way to increase your functional strength and muscular endurance, but it will not add definition. It is very important to maintain a functionally strong core, to avoid injury and maintain posture, but this type of exercise is not going to give you a six pack.
Like any other muscle group, it is important to train your abdominal muscles on a schedule that allows recovery time. Lots of people add abs to every workout, particularly if their main goal is to develop a six pack. This is counterproductive, because the body needs downtime to repair itself and lay down new muscle.
Best Ab Workouts
There are a number of groups of abdominal muscles that perform different functions, but the major ones are the rectus abdominis and the obliques.
Rectus abdominis Otherwise known as the six pack, the rectus abdominis runs from the chest to the pelvis. When people speak about upper and lower abs, they are talking about the upper and lower sections of the rectus abdominis. Work out the rectus abdominis with exercises like:
- Inclined sit-ups
- Weighted crunches
- Hanging leg raises
- Front squats
It is important to make sure you concentrate on anti-flexion as well as flexion for a thorough workout. Front squats are great for this, and try to lower yourself slowly down from crunches and leg raises. Add weights, keep the reps low, and train for strength rather than endurance.
Internal and External Obliques These muscles run at a diagonal or "oblique" angle. The external obliques originate on the lower ribs, and run downward and inward, inserting into the midline of the abdomen (the linea alba) and along the pubic bone. The internal obliques lie just below the external obliques, and originate on the hip bones, running upward and inward, attaching to the bottom few ribs. The obliques help rotate the trunk and compress the abdomen. They are not as visible as the rectus abdominis, but these muscles are vital to functional strength and the slender waisted look. Work the obliques with exercises like:
- Weighted oblique crunches
- Plate twists
- Weighted side bends
- Push up to side plank
Cardio shouldn't be overlooked on the quest for killer abs. Cardio burns fat, and there are a lot of exercises that combine cardio and resistance training, like high intensity interval training, which is also great for people who are pressed for time.
Six Pack Diet
Diet is a vital and often overlooked part of the washboard stomach equation. You might have great abdominal muscles, but nobody's going to be able to see that if you keep them hidden under a layer of blubber. The experts tell us that diet and activity is the key to losing weight, which is very true, but implies that both of these factors have equal bearing. Exercise is vital to health. It burns calories, shapes the body, boosts the metabolism, and makes you feel great, but when it comes down to it, the amount of fat on your body is tied to what you eat, and not to your workout schedule.
Supplements for Abs
That said, you're not going to build muscle and lose fat at the same time, and you're going to need to provide your body with the right fuel when you're doing serious training to build up those abs. Make sure you're eating a varied, energy dense diet, rich in protein. Many people find a mass gainer protein indispensible when they're bulking up, and a testosterone booster can maximise your body's muscle building capabilities. More advanced trainers might want to give BCAAs a go, and a sleep supplement can keep you in a stress-free muscle building state.
After you've built up your muscles you can start cutting. A fat burner can help speed things up, and a lean protein or shredding protein can help keep your body's nitrogen balance positive and prevent muscle catabolism.
It is important to realise that spot training will not reduce the body fat in a particular area - unfortunately crunches alone will not evaporate belly fat. You must reduce your overall bodyfat percentage. Lower bodyfat can also reveal lower abs and obliques, areas of muscle that are easily obscured by bodyfat.
Watch Bodybuilder Reuben Marks' Ab Training Routine
With the discipline and the determination to stick to a sensible exercise and diet plan, killer abs are within most people's reach. See you at the beach!