How to Get a Six Pack and Ace Your Abs
JDP Manager Matt Williams gives you his top tips for getting a six pack and keeping it.
You can benefit from stronger abs even if you don’t want a washboard stomach. Our roundup shows you how to get a six pack with exercises to sort your midsection out.
The six-pack has become the modern fitness Holy Grail – it requires dedication, a clean diet and the ardour to avoid those post-work pints. If you want to know how to get a six pack, here’s a round-up of the 7 best tips to get you the abs of your dreams.
You’ll learn a range of key tips including:
•You don’t have to be in search of a washboard stomach to benefit from stronger abs though, as improved core muscles will help in a number of disciplines, including running, cycling and even that upcoming mud obstacle course
•You don’t need any equipment to work your abs – simple exercises repeated regularly is all the work these muscles need
•Getting an ace six pack isn’t just about exercise, it’s about making sure you are eating the right food to fuel your body and burn off excess fat so you can show off your abs
- Train your abs with two types of exercise
Some ab exercises are based on movement. Others focus more on balance, so your abs contract harder to keep your body stable. Most people have difficulty with either stabilisation or mobilisation. Therefore, include both types of moves in a workout to challenge your abs.
For instance, try performing a Swiss-ball rollout (mobilisation), followed by a Swiss-ball crunch (stabilisation). To do the rollout, kneel in front of the ball with your forearms pressed against it. Keeping your knees and feet in place, roll the ball in front of you so your hips, torso, and arms slide forward. Advance as far as you can without arching your back, then pull back to the starting position.
2. Get more from your cardio
Strip away abdominal fat by switching around your cardio routine so you run hard early. In a study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, eight men ran for 30 minutes on 2 separate days.
In the first session, the men ran at a relatively high intensity–80 percent of their maximum heart rate–for 15 minutes, then slowed to 60 percent for the final 15 minutes. In the other session, they ran the slower part first.
The men burned 5 to 10 percent more fat when they ran faster at the start of the workout. And this is only a 30-minute workout. If you extrapolate that to a longer workout three to five times a week, things can add up.
Here’s why it works: To burn fat, your body first breaks down fat tissue into fat molecules. Our study found that this works better when your ab exercise is done at a relatively high intensity. Next, molecules go to your cells to be burned, which can occur at relatively lower intensities.
3. Stay hydrated
This one’s almost too easy, but drinking plenty of water not only helps you burn fat but also builds more muscle. All creatine does is force fluid into the muscle. Your body will do that itself if there’s enough water available.
4. Skip the bonus abs routine
Edging closer to sharp abs can tempt you to work them every day. Don’t. Training more can actually make your abs show less. “You don’t need to overwork your abs–they’re no different from any other muscle. If you’re always in a state of overtraining, you’re going to get more laxity in your muscles.
In other words, they’ll appear soft. Instead, add resistance to make moves you already do more challenging. For instance, hold a lightweight plate during a Russian twist or Swiss-ball crunch. Then give your muscles time to rest.
5. Do more total-body exercise
Isolation moves like crunches are great for developing your muscles, but they don’t burn much fat. You’re better off training multiple muscle groups at once. Total-body exercise burns more calories and also causes a greater release of muscle-building hormones.
Try combination moves, like the reverse lunge to cable chest fly. Stand between a cable station’s weight stacks and grab a pulley handle with each hand. Hold your arms straight in front of you. Then step back with one leg, bend your knees, and let your arms move out to the sides. Pause when your back knee is just off the floor and your upper body looks like a T, then push yourself back up while you pull your arms together. Repeat the move with your other leg in the back position.
6. Get off the floor
Define the lower portion of the rectus abdominis (your six-pack muscle) with a Swiss-ball reverse crunch, but instead of doing the move on the floor, hop on a bench. It allows for a greater range of motion.
Lie faceup on the edge of a bench with a Swiss ball pinched between your heels and hamstrings. Keeping your abs drawn in, roll your pelvis off the bench and, maintaining the same knee angle, bring your knees toward your chest. Slowly lower the ball. As soon as your back begins to arch on the way down, that’s the end of your range of motion. Pause at this point for a few seconds before finishing your set. Try five sets of 15 to 20 repetitions.
7. Go deep
Abdominal muscles are multilayered, but most people focus only on the outermost layer with exercises like the crunch. So look for moves that work the abdominal muscles closest to the spine, such as the plank. Strengthening these tiny stabilisers will provide a solid foundation to allow your six-pack muscles to grow stronger and bigger.