Oh boy here we go… one of the most talked about yet most misunderstood topics in all of health and nutrition… the illustrious and illusive abs! How many times have you seen articles and ads telling you how you can have an amazing 6-pack? Hundreds if not thousands. And how many of those articles and ads are telling you different things about how to get them? Almost all of them! Truth is, everybody wants a killer 6-pack, the health and fitness industry knows that… and will exploit the average american by selling their “secrets” or “miracle pills” to those who are uninformed. Well lucky for you, I am here to inform you! I will be covering the following topics regarding abs..
HOW DO I GET ABS?!?!
Its impossible for me to get abs :(
What’s up with this guy I know that doesn’t even workout and has a 6-pack?!
How many days per week should I work my abs?
Whats the best ab exercise?
How can I maintain abs once I get them?
Will doing extra cardio help me get abs?
Are you suuuure theres no miracle pill or secret that could actually work?
To sum it all up…
1) Might as well start with the biggest question of them all. You’ve no doubt by now heard the expression “abs are made in the kitchen.” Well, for the most part that is true. Visible Abs are achieved through a combination of things including a healthy clean diet, sufficient and efficient exercises, oh and having good genetics can really help you out on this one too. Truth is, everyone has abs right now, yes everyone! However, with most people they’re hiding away under layers of fat. (I like to say that I care so much about my abs that I protect them with a layer of fat!) You can do all the ab exercises in the world, and all you would be doing is strengthening your ab muscles. Having a strong core is very important, but if you want to SEE your abs all you really need to do is lose fat! Thats all it comes down to! Definitely not saying its easy, because its not… but it is doable with a strict diet and commitment/dedication.
2) I’ve heard people say that its impossible for them to get abs before. I’ve even heard people say that their doctor told them they could never get abs! WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. Anyone can get abs! Again, its not an easy process, and if you’re overweight you’ve got a much tougher road ahead of you. But regardless of age, weight, gender, height, etc… you CAN do it IF you have the discipline and motivation. If someone says its impossible for them to get abs, the truth is that they either didn’t try hard enough, or lacked the discipline to stay on a healthy diet with regular exercise. Its also quite possible that many people are still uninformed, and trying to get their 6-pack by doing 30 minutes of abs at the end of every workout… which again, simply does not give you abs.
3) Unfortunately for some people, genetics can play a large role in the acquisition of visible abs. I’m not saying that it makes it impossible for some people, rather it just makes it a heck of a lot easier for others. There are people who are naturally lean and muscular (mesomorph) who can have a visible 6-pack without even going to the gym, so long as they have a somewhat smart diet. These are the guys and girls that everyone else hates and is jealous of, because while everyone else struggles to get lean they find it comes easy. You can’t just always blame your genetics however, sometimes you also have to blame yourself and your diet and your lack of commitment.
4) I see guys at the gym doing abs every single day, and I can’t help but wonder to myself “why?” You wouldn’t train legs every single day would you? Your abs should be trained like any other muscle group in your body. There is absolutely no need to train them more than 2-3 times per week, assuming you hit them hard and don’t just do 10 crunches then call it a day. Also, you don’t want to train abs on back to back days because just like other muscle groups, they need recovery time as well, and you don’t want to train any muscle group again while it is still sore from the previous workout.
5) Not too long ago the world was bustin’ out 100’s of situps and crunches believing these were the best way to a guaranteed shredded 6-pack. That way of thinking didn’t last long however, and now situps and crunches have taken a back seat on the list of “best” ab exercises. My personal favorite ab exercise is the plank, and all the different variations of the plank. The plank will strengthen your entire midsection, as well as the upper-body and lower-body muscles along the front of your body. Good form is imperative while performing a plank, so keep those abs tight!
6) If you’re wondering how to maintain your 6-pack, that means you’ve already got one… and thats awesome! You’ve already achieved what many people strive for and struggle at achieving. If you’ve come this far, there's no doubt you had a smart healthy diet plan and regular exercise. Luckily for you, to maintain your 6-pack, all you need to do is keep doing what you’ve been doing! One good method is to take a picture of yourself and your abs. If a week or two later you look at yourself in the mirror and your 6-pack isn’t as visible, it means you’re putting on a little weight and you’ve got slightly more fat covering the muscles of your 6-pack. From there you can dial in on the diet again, and do more cardio to burn calories and fat until you reach the desired look again.
7) The combination of a clean healthy diet and cardio is the absolute best method of attaining a 6-pack. So yes, doing extra cardio will help you attain a 6-pack by burning calories and therefore losing fat. Now when I say cardio, I don’t mean you have to sit on a treadmill or elliptical for an hour at a time. If you just increase the pace of your regular weights routine (less rest in between sets) you’ve now turned that into a type of cardio workout. If your breathing is hard and your heart rate is up, you’re doing it right. Its up to you as an individual to find the right balance between how much cardio you need to do and how much of your results will be based on your diet. If you aren’t happy with the results you’ve seen so far, try either upping the difficulty (pace) of your workouts, or tweaking your diet by dialing back on some unhealthier foods you don’t necessarily need.
8) “Are you suuuure theres no miracle pill or secret that could actually work?” Yes, im sure.
9) To sum it all up, abs are attainable through healthy clean eating and sufficient exercise. However, they are not easy to get. It takes a LOT of work to get them, and a LOT of work to keep them. You have to be willing to sacrifice that extra beer and pizza on the weekend, or going out to eat multiple times throughout the week. Its not for everyone… but for those who really want a 6-pack, just know that it IS possible. So eat clean, work hard, and earn those results!
Until next time, keep it healthy.
Brian Lepine, CPT