How To Get The Six-pack Abs

6 Second Abs. 8 Minute Abs. Abs of Steel.

There are few things in the weight loss industry that are more annoying than the infomercials selling machines to give you a flat stomach or six-pack.

To look like those infomercial models takes a lot more than using the latest ab machine (they don't work and may actually cause harm). It takes a long-term commitment to careful diet and nutrition, resistance/strength training, and other forms of fat-loss exercise - in other words it's hard work.

This article may be very disappointing to some. It is the truth. If you want nice abs you are aiming for an entire body transformation.

How do I get my abs of steel?

Have you ever seen anyone with well-defined abs who also had fat thighs, "man boobs" or flabby hips? The chances are you haven't.

That's because it's near impossible to achieve localized fat loss.

The body tends to burn fat from all over the place, and generally you have no control over which body part will slim down first.

  • Lower Overall Body Fat

    To see the abs you've got to burn the fat first. Generally you have to get your whole body to <= 10% body fat (men) or <=14% body fat (women) before you start seeing any definition. Coupled with the regular resistance training to build and define the abdominal muscles.
  • Train the Abdominals

    To burn more fat you need to increase cardiovascular exercise. Abs can be trained like every other muscle (e.g. twice a week). Also note that our muscular structure is individual - that is why some can only get a '4-pack', while others show off an '8-pack'.

Should I do hundreds of crunches?

Any muscle definition in the body comes from the right nutrition, and the right mix of cardio and weight training. Repetitive abdominal exercise will give you great endurance, but probably won't give you that washboard you're wanting.

Here are some basic rules for transformation.

  1. Eat about 15-20% below your calorie maintenance level
  2. Spread your calories into 5-6 small meals instead of 2-3 big ones.
  3. Eat a source of complete, high quality protein with each meal.
  4. Choose natural, complex carbs such as vegetables, oatmeal, yams, potatoes, brown rice and whole grains. Start with at least 50% of your calories from complex carbs and reduce carbs slightly (esp. late in the day) if you are not losing fat.
  5. Avoid refined, simple carbs that contain white flour or white sugar.
  6. Keep total fats low and saturated fats low. Aim for only 15-20% of your total calories from fat. A little bit of "good fat" like flax oil is better than a no fat diet.
  7. Drink plenty of water – a gallon is a good goal to shoot for if you are physically active.

Ab Exercises

There are 3 main abdominal regions that should be worked:

Upper Abs
Basic crunch, Swiss ball crunch, Decline crunch, Bench crunch, Cable crunch

Lower Abs
Reverse crunch, Hip up, Reverse Decline crunch, Hanging Leg Raises, Swiss ball leg lift

Obliques
Side crunch, Cross crunch, Swiss ball side crunch, Decline twist, Twisting Cable crunch.

Tip: When working the abs, suck your stomach in (imagine pulling your navel towards your back) and concentrate on feeling your stomach muscles being worked. It is very easy to use bad form and end up working the hip flexors.

Ab Programs

The most popular abs program available is The Truth About Six Pack Abs by Mike Geary.

This program ignores conventional long cardio routines, favoring more intense body weight exercises that provide more of a metabolic response - leading to more fat loss.

References

  • Labre, M. P. (2005). The male body ideal: Perspectives of readers and non-readers of fitness magazines. Journal of Men's Health and Gender, 2(2), 223-229. Link
  • Demont, R. G., Lephart, S. M., Giraldo, J. L., Giannantonio, F. P., Yuktanandana, P., & Fu, F. H. (1999). Comparison of two abdominal training devices with an abdominal crunch using strength and EMG measurements. The Journal of sports medicine and physical fitness, 39(3), 253-258. Link
  • Sands, W. A., & McNEAL, J. R. (2002). A kinematic comparison of four abdominal training devices and a traditional abdominal crunch. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 16(1), 135-141 Link
Last Updated 31 December 2014