JDP Top Trainer Jackson Hinch teaches you how to Fast Track your Six Pack.
A six pack. Seen as the epitome of fitness and strength. For some unknown reason everyone sees a six pack and automatically associates it with being strong, sexy, and fit. Having a six pack is just the result of having low enough body fat for the Abdominal muscles to be seen, namely the Rectus Abdominus. Yet everyone still wants that chiselled midsection with abs you can do the washing on. Well fear not, we’re here to give you our top tips to getting the Core of your dreams, and be ready to look good naked no matter the occasion.
What are your abs??
Unknown to most, the Abdominals muscle group is actually made up of four sets of muscles, the Rectus Abdominus, the External Obliques, the Internal Obliques, and last but not least the Transverse Abdominus. The six pack on top is generally the most trained by any gym goer, and yet it is really the least important. Training all four muscle groups is key to getting the six pack you want popping through.
With the Transverse Abdominus being the deepest of the four we’ll start there. To train these we want to look at exercises that involve stability and supporting the body and spine to stay straight while under load. A perfect example most people will recognise is a Plank or Prone Hold. These are fantastic for working on stability and holding your body while gravity fights against you. With the ability to easily load this exercise, or make it more difficult through lifting a hand or foot off the ground, it’s easy to progress and make significant gains quite quickly, and will transfer over to any movement you perform in the gym. Gaining some thickness in your Transverse Abdominus will help to make your six pack pop out further and be more pronounced even at a higher bodyfat.
Next up let’s look at the Inner Obliques, the next deepest muscle group. These run diagonally from your Ribs and Spine down to your Hips, at an angle from front to back. To train these muscles again we have to think outside of the typical Crunch or Sit Up variation. We need an exercise that involves both stability and an element of rotation. A movement some may not be common with that fits both of these requirements is a Standing Cable Twist. Setting up a rope attachment at hip height, we want to stand about 1-2m away and perpendicular to the cable with our arms out stretched holding the rope shoulder width apart. We let the cable rotate our body and arms back towards the cable stand, and then pull using our core, rotating from the hips to face away from the cable while keeping our feet planted, then control back to the start position and repeat. This provides elements of Rotation, and Anti-Rotation, along with the need for stability in a standing position, you should feel your Obliques fire on straight away. Training these muscles hard will create a tighter waist at the sides while simultaneously pushing the six pack out further again to create an illusion of lower body fat.
Next up let’s look at the Outer Obliques, which although may not directly contribute to the six pack, will create a much tighter looking waist from the front and sides, again giving the illusion of lower body fat, and create the elusive “V lines” or “Adonis Belt” to make your core look complete, while also creating the frame for you to mole your six pack inbetween. So let’s see how we train these, something involving an element of stability again, while also creating a need for sideways flexion of the torso, a Mason Twist fits the bill perfectly. While on the ground, sit yourself up so your hips are at a right angle, your want your body at a 45° angle, same with your thighs and knees bent but feet off the floor. Now holding a weight (Dumbell, KettleBell, or Plate) we want to twist as far to the right as you can with control, then twist to the left with the same control and range of motion. That’s one rep, now repeat for 10+ reps and feel your Obliques working.
Now onto the one everyone is waiting for the Rectus Abdominus, the six pack. These have the basic function of Flexion or Anti Extension of the torso. There are numerous ways to train this muscle group which I’m sure you’re aware of a few. A favourite of mine is the Hanging Leg Raise. These can be performed on Dip Bars, on a Pull Up Bar, or in a made for purpose Leg Raise frame. We want to be hanging and then attempting to bring our Legs up to at least a right angle with our torso, if this is too hard start with bent knees. If you do these right your Abs should start to burn within a couple reps as no other muscle group can be particularly helpful in this situation. The key with these is control and preventing swinging, while also getting a full stretch and contraction. You get these right and I can near enough guarantee you’ll have the beginnings of a six pack in no time.
“Abs are made in the kitchen”
Last but not least, the most important piece of the puzzle that no one wants to know about, the diet. Get yourself into a calorie deficit for 6-12 weeks depending on your current bodyfat levels and strip down some bodyfat. You can do all the Core work in the world, but without a low body fat percentage you’re not going to be flaunting that beach body anytime soon!
The Core has many more functions than just looking good without a shirt on, namely stability and power production. Make sure you cover all your bases with variations to work all four muscle groups above and you’ll be on the fast track to performing and looking better all at the same time.
Diet off the excess fat and you’ll be surprised what’s lurking underneath!