20 Mar 2020
Take a look around – how many sets of rock hard, perfectly chiselled abs do you see on your family, friends, co-workers and neighbours? Not many? Not surprising, really.
It’s no secret one of the most coveted physical attributes is also one of the most difficult to achieve. And while blessed genetics and countless daily sit-ups have long been held up as the pathways to achieving this elusive body goal, the truth is getting and maintaining a six pack takes a whole lot more than slender folks and daily crunch-a-thons.
Here we bust the gut myth and discuss how to get abs with a mix of diet and exercise tricks you can easily add to your core-building repertoire.
You can’t out-train a bad diet – that’s the long and the short of it. No amount of exercise or ab work will see you achieve your goals if you’re eating the wrong foods in the wrong amounts.
There’s a lot of conflicting information around meal size and frequency, but there are also a few universal truths when it comes to dieting best practices as well as losing weight, building muscle and how to get abs. They include:
Reducing processed food – The more whole the food, the more nourishing it is for you. And that’s true for both plant-based and meat-inclusive diets.
Upping your lean protein – Lean protein is the number one ally in building lean muscle, especially when consumed post-workout. It’ll help you stay fuller for longer too, thus helping you sidestep food cravings and overeating.
Pairing natural simple sugars with good fats for snacking – Apples and nut butter, berries and Greek yogurt – these tasty combos will give you the energy hit while also satisfying your hunger for longer.
Eating at home – You’re less likely to consume hidden ingredients and calories if you’ve prepped the meal yourself.
Drinking lots of water – It’ll keep you hydrated and put a stop to hunger cravings to boot.
While crunches and sit-ups are ideal for working out the rectus abdominis, the core is actually made up of a great many more major and minor muscles including the transverse abdominis, multifidus, internal and external obliques, erector spinae, and diaphragm.
All these muscles work together to support the abs, so rather than focusing on one specific muscle with one specific exercise (e.g. sit-ups), better results and overall fat loss can be achieved by opting for a more varied core workout that targets the surrounding muscles as well as the rectus abdominus.
Want to know how to get a six pack? Start by adding stability ball V-ups, planks, ab roll-outs, TRX knee tucks, Russian twists, and bicycle crunches to your program.
As you already know, spot fat reduction is a physiological impossibility, so carving out a six pack while still homing a sizable pair of love handles or an elevated body fat percentage simply isn’t a realistic goal.
Targeting muscle building in the abdominal region as well as in other major muscle groups like the glutes, legs and back will help you burn more fat throughout the day, while adding some HIIT workouts or segments into your program will help blast the flab and show the body how to get abs from out and under the fat.
Walking, running, sitting, working, socialising – even when we’re not working out per se (as well as when we are), there’s always an opportunity to maximise our training through constant muscle activation, particularly in our abdominals. Training the mind and body to always adopt an active, athletic position with shoulders back and down, lats activated, pelvis tucked in, and navel drawn to the spine can help trick the abs into getting a six pack along the way.
Like any fitness goal, results won’t come from sporadic engagement or half-hearted training, and this is especially true for abs. Dedicated ab exercises should form a part of your daily workout in one way or another, and commitment to diet goals should be similarly focused.
Eat right, shoot for overall fat loss and muscle gain, and make ab work part of your everyday routine, and you too can learn how to get abs even without the crunches and blessed gene pool.
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