That chiselled ab look is something we all strive for but many of us are unaware of how to get it. It isn't easy however if you follow some rules when exercising and eating you will be on your way.
The most important thing to understand about your abdominals is their anatomy.
Your "abs" are made up of different groups of muscles. The rectus abdominis is the main muscle in your abdominal region and they are the muscles that make that "six-pack" look in people with well-developed abs and low body fat. The other main group are obliques, which consist of three different layers of muscle - the internal transverse and external obliques. Together these muscles contract to tilt the torso as well as twist it from side to side. The rectus abdominals and obliques are made up of slow-twitch fibres which are suited for endurance type exercises which will make a big difference to how you train your abs.
The other major point is your diet which will affect your body fat percentage.
Everyone has abs - EVERYONE! So why can we see abs on some people and not others? Everyone has a layer of fat between the skin and muscle and for some people that layer is smaller than it is for others. The smaller the layer of fat (or the lower overall percentage of body fat) the better the definition of the abdominal muscles will be.
Top 6 tips for getting a 6 pack:
It is important to know that you can't achieve six-pack abs by doing sit-ups alone. It is a combination of both core-specific exercises and changes in your lifestyle and diet. Here are some helpful tips and exercises to help you on your way to a more defined midsection.
Learn to activate your abdominals
In essence, any resistance training exercise you complete can be used as core training too to work those abs. For example, a standing pull is a great core exercise if you can brace your core as you perform the pull.
Perform some specific core exercises to target the core
Here are some of my favourites remember the goal is endurance:
- Curl up - This is not a sit-up! The curl up will be just as effective as a sit up and much safer. The key is to only lift your shoulders keeping your lower back still.
- Side bridges and planks - These will only be effective if you can activate your core. Many clients say that this exercise is too easy however it can be made more effective if done on unstable surfaces such as a Bosu or foam roller.
- Jack Rabbits - Done by placing your feet on a Swiss ball and completed by bringing your knees to your chest.
- Russian twists - Can be done lying down on a Swiss ball. Can use a med ball to increase intensity.
Focus on endurance, not strength
Being able to do a sit-up with a 20 kg weight will not get you a six-pack, however, being able to perform 20 curl-ups with the perfect technique will. Endurance refers to longer rep ranges and they should be in sets of 15-20 + rather than 8-10.
Do some cardio and aerobic exercises
Burn baby burn! To get the definition in your abdominals you need to cut down on your body fat percentage and this only occurs through regular cardio exercise at a high intensity. Aim for at least 20 mins a day.
Mission nutrition - Aim to cut out as many bad fats as possible
To optimise your body fat reduction try and avoid as many saturated fats as possible as for males especially they are stored directly in the abdominal region. Good fats are the polyunsaturated fats found mainly in seafood such as tuna and salmon. It won't be easy but think of the rewards when you are finished!
Activate your abs while you work
This is one of the most important points - for many people their work involves sitting at a desk all day - make sure you don't turn your abs off! This will mean keeping good posture and avoiding slouching. A tip is to keep a timer or alarm on your desk which when goes off prompts you to sit up straight. This will ensure you continue to train your abs during the day.
These are just a couple of the ways you can start to sculpt your six-pack. Remember everyone has one there it is just a matter of training the right way. Before you start an exercise program for your core especially if you have back trouble please consult your Doctor or health professional. For more specific exercises see your Exercise Physiologist for a complete program.
Written By Luke Dorizas