How to get six-pack abs

In this step by step guide, I will reveal the tricks to getting a six pack of your very own – just in time for the summer!

 

A well-defined six-pack is one of the most sought after fitness goals but it’s not easy to obtain. Some exercisers never really get what they want despite performing endless sets of crunches and other similar abdominal exercises. It’s very hard to say exactly how long it will take you to develop this fitness holy of holies but if you follow this six-step plan, it should happen sooner rather than later. Remember though, your abs are just one muscle group and your ab training should be part of a well-designed and periodised training program that focuses on not just how you look but how you feel and function too…

 

Please note: while you might WANT a six-pack, not everyone GETS one because of genetics. Even if you are destined never to have a real six-pack, you can develop a flat, firm stomach and in doing so will improve your health and fitness. Like big biceps or blue eyes, some people are more genetically equipped to getting six-pack abs but you won’t know if that’s you until you try. One thing’s for sure, if you don’t go after ‘em, you’ll never get ‘em!

Step one – get lean

Many people have well developed abs but any muscular detail is obscured by a thick layer of fat. The only way to make your abs more visible is to get leaner. This means dropping your body fat to 10% or below for men and 15% or below for women. This is best achieved with a reduced carbohydrate/calorie controlled diet and regular cardiovascular exercise and interval training plus building muscle, as outlined in point two below. Be aware though that extreme leanness can cause health issues – especially for women – so consider your health when pursuing your six-pack.

 

Good diets for fat loss include, cyclic ketogenic diets, the Slow Carb Diet, the Palaeolithic diet, any carb cycling diet . So long as you can stick with it and you don’t starve yourself (which can actually promote fat storage and not fat loss) almost any diet will work but make sure you choose ones that keep you healthy. However, the best diet will always be the one that is created specifically for you by a nutritionist.

 

Step two – build some muscle

Rather than target your abs with lots of direct core exercises such as sit ups, you are better off trying to develop all of your muscles by performing regular strength training. Your abs bridge the gap between your arms and your legs so it makes sense that when your extremities get stronger, so will your abs. It’s not called the core for nothing after all!

 

Some direct ab work is okay but focusing on overhead pressing, squats, deadlifts etc. will place more load on your abs than any type of sit up ever will. Building bigger muscles throughout your body will elevate your metabolism and make sure you burn as much fat as you possibly can so you reveal your six-pack abs all the sooner. Direct ab work is definitely important but do it at the end of your regular strength training workout as a finisher once the “real” work is done.

 

Step three – improve your posture

Standing up straight can make the difference between flat abs and a paunch belly. When you hunch forwards, your abs tend to bow outwards and even if you are lean enough to show off a six pack, it will look crumpled and ugly. Stand up straight, lift your chest, lengthen your neck and pull your shoulders back. This will flatten your stomach and make them look far more impressive even if you are not quite lean enough to reveal your six-pack.

 

Like most of us, you probably spend a long time sat down so it’s very important that you remedy this by strengthening the muscles on the back of your body and stretching those on the front – especially your hip flexors, pecs and even the actual abdominals themselves. This, as well as body position awareness and practice, is the key to better posture and flatter abs!

 

Step four – learn to brace and vacuum

Bracing describes tensing your abdominals and other core muscles without actually moving your spine. Imagine you are about to be punched in the gut and you tighten up to protect yourself – that’s bracing! You should do this whenever you perform any strenuous exercise and also when you want your abs to look their best. Bracing is the core equivalent of raising your flexed arm to show off your biceps!

 

Practice bracing whenever you get the chance – it will help harden up your abs and also protect your back when you are lifting heavy weights.

 

Vacuuming is another “tick” that can help flatten your belly and aid you in your quest for a six pack. It was a favourite pose of many old-time bodybuilders and strongmen and may actually reduce the size of your waist – assuming your diet and exercise program is nailed down of course!  Can we talk about vacumn old school technique. Simply exhale and pull your belly in and up to reduce the size of your abdominal cavity. Don’t do this after you have just eaten! Hold for a few seconds and then relax. Be aware though that doing the vacuum can elevate your blood pressure so don’t do it if you are already diagnosed as hypertensive.

Step five – forget about spot reduction

Many exercises make the mistake of performing a high volume of ab exercises in the hope that they will burn off fat from their midsections. Worse still, this is often done on a daily basis. Over hypertrophied abs can actually cause postural issues and harm rather than increase your chances of developing a six-pack. Your abs are just another muscle group and just as you wouldn’t train your legs every day, nor should you train abs so frequently.

 

As a general rule, limit your repetitions to less than 20 and perform two to three sets of two to three exercises twice a week. This, plus the bracing described in point four, is all you need for well-developed abs.

 

Step six – work your abs from a variety of directions

When it comes to ab training, most people spend way too much time working on flexion or forward bending exercises and completely forget about the other functions of the midsection. Make sure you include lateral flexion (side bends) and rotation exercises to work your abs from a variety of directions to ensure optimal development. Remember though, all the ab work in the world won’t give you a six-pack if you don’t take care of business in the kitchen and the rest of your training. It is quite possible to have an amazing six-pack but never reveal it because it’s permanently covered in an ugly layer of fat.

 

Step seven – get a healthier gut
Gut health can play a big part in developing a six-pack. An unhealthy gut can cause bloating and water retention which can reduce definition and can also make fat burning harder than it needs to be – possible causing fat gain even when you are cutting calories. Speak to a nutritionist about maximizing gut health and consider cutting out all sources of poor gut health including artificial additives, common allergens such as lactose, soya and gluten and consider using a probiotic.

 

So, now you know what you need to do to get your very own six-pack. All that is left now is for you to put these steps into action!

 
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AUTHOR

Hi, my name is Dinny Morris. I’m a personal trainer and in sunny Sydney, Australia.

I work with men and women at all levels of their physical development, from overweight couch potatoes who want to get in shape, to professional athletes and natural bodybuilders who want to beef up strength and body mass.

* Testimonials found on Dinny Morris Fitness have been sent to me by past and present customers and may not reflect the typical customer’s experience and are not intended to represent or guarantee that anyone will achieve the same or similar results. The testimonials are meant to be a showcase of the best results personal training with me can produce, and should not be taken as the results a typical user will get.