Everyone wants to have a lean midsection, but the majority of people will never have one. It’s not your genetics that are to blame. Nearly everyone has the potential to have visible abs. To understand why, a little common sense is all you need. Every human has abdominal muscles, and then a layer of fat over them. The key to getting six pack abs is to remove that layer of fat that’s covering up those muscles. So how do you do this?
I would estimate that 80% of the equation for seeing your abs is diet. The other 20% is exercise. Unfortunately, most people have this backwards, and rely on exercise to get their abs to come in. The common thought is that if you do enough sit-ups or crunches, your abs will start to show through. Targeting fat loss is a myth.
Real body transformations come through diet manipulation. You can work out until you’re blue in the face, but as long as you have that layer of fat covering your muscles, you will always just look bulky and smooth. The good news? It’s much easier to lose fat than it is to build muscle. I should add one caveat to that – physically it’s much easier to lose fat than to build muscle. Psychologically it’s a whole different story. See our post on nutrition and diet.
However, if you’re willing to give yourself 16-20 weeks, nearly anyone can bring their body fat levels down enough to either start bringing in their abs, or really start defining them (depending on your starting body fat percentage). We can test your bodies levels. See our inbody video.
So how can you build abs more efficiently if you have your diet down?
High-intensity exercise and clean eating are the answer to abs, right? Right. But what happens if you’re injured or sick and completely out of commission? See ya later, six-pack. Well, not so fast. There’s a few tricks to slow the process, and maybe even be the answer for the lazy couch potato.
Fancy word and terminology for “eat based on what you do.” As an active person, consuming small portions of carbs throughout the day and fats later in the evening can be very effective for building muscle and keeping off fat. But if you’re slowed down (or sitting in an office chair for eight-plus hours per day), it’s recommended to slash back on both of those particular macronutrients in small increments, but do it slowly so you don’t get cravings the first week of trying it out. Eventually you’ll find the balance.
Sit there and crunch your abs, all day, five sets of 60-second holds as many times as you can think of throughout the day. Do it at your desk, in a meeting, driving home, in a cab, on a train, you name it (just avoid making funny faces in public).
Protein will help you build lean muscle as well as burn body fat. Out of all the macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fat) lean protein has the highest thermogenic effect on the body.
That makes it the most valuable macronutrient of all, because your body burns a ton ofcalories breaking it down.
This is one of the main reasons why professional athletes and competitive bodybuilders eat a diet that is high in lean protein and also have some of the best physiques on the planet! This goes for women also, not just men.
As we are all humans with basically the same DNA and tissues, we all need protein in order to survive and also to burn body fat!
Most people have been falsely led to believe that carbohydrates are bad and that they will make you fat. This is definitely a myth that needs to be busted!
Of course eating too much of anything will make you gain weight, but natural grain or starchy carbs such as sweet potatoes, brown rice, and oatmeal are actually quite beneficial in your six pack quest, especially when consumed post-workout. When you eat carbs post-workout, they have the smallest chance of turning into body fat.
Try to eat moderate amounts of carbs and 1-2 cups of vegetables with each meal. This will ensure that your body gets the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber it needs to function at its peak and remain healthy.
Dietary fat from these sources will keep your insulin levels stable, which is very important if your goal is to lose belly fat and reveal six pack abs. I am not saying to go out there and eat an entire bag of Planters Cashews.
I am simply saying that you do not need to be afraid to include healthy fats in your diet. With all of the so called “low fat diet” gurus out there and the huge amount of negative press about fats, it is easy to mistakenly believe that eliminating fats from your diet is good. But it is actually a dietary disaster, especially if you want a head turning physique.
By combining lean protein with the correct types and amounts of green leafy vegetables, good carbs, and fats you will begin to super charge your metabolism and turn your body into a 24-7 fat burning machine.
The best part about that is that you will be able to do it without a miracle supplement, ab gadget, and without doing hundreds of crunches.
Compound, multi-joint, total body movements will promote more total fat loss and promote a much bigger muscle building response than crunches and sit-ups ever will.
Personally, I think that it is completely pointless to waste an hour of your time doing hundreds of useless crunches and sit-ups when that hour could be spent doing exercises that are more productive for fat loss.
Working as a fitness model, I generally work abs for about 20 minutes two or three times per week. There is just no reason to work abs any more than this! Here is a list of great compound exercises that you should have in your workout program:
I’m sure you’ve probably heard that the best way to burn fat is to do long duration cardio at a slow to medium pace. This fat loss method is decent, but there is a much better way. I suggest doing interval workouts combined with abdominal exercises.
During the active recovery period of your interval workout, perform an ab exercise. For example, if you are doing interval sprints on a stationary bike or treadmill, run for 30 seconds at your maximum speed.
Hop off of the machine and immediately perform a set of 20 exercise ball crunches. Get back on the machine and crank it back up again. Repeat 5-8 times.