I used to believe that doing as many sit ups and crunches as possible at the end of a workout would give me a rock hard 6 pack.
Throughout my own fitness journey I’ve learnt that this isn’t the case, although it is a very common misconception. Doing sit ups and crunches alone will not give you rock hard abs. You need to do regular compound moves such as squats, dead lifts and over head presses as well as these to engage and strengthen your core muscles.
Not only will a strong core help you on your way to a 6 pack, it will help to improve your posture, balance and your overall performance if you are a heavy lifter.
There’s really a two step process to getting a six pack, the first of which is:
1. Lower your body fat
There is very little point in doing all of these ab workouts if you don’t have a low body fat percentage. Believe it or not, everyone has a 6 pack, it’s just hidden under a layer of fat.
You often see adverts on the TV for core trainers featuring Cristiano Renaldo, showing how he got his 6 pack. Believe me, it wasn’t from those trainers. Although they could be useful, I’d rather put the hard work in myself and as I said above, you need to have an extremely low body fat percentage for these to work to their full potential.
Unfortunately, you can’t directly target belly fat when you workout. You need to lose fat as a whole-body process, rather than targeting one area and eventually it will happen around your belly too.
So if you’re working towards building a 6 pack make sure to get your diet in check. The saying ‘abs are made in the kitchen’ does have merit to it. If you aren’t looking at what you’re eating, you’re undoing all of the hard work you’re putting into your ab exercises.
How to Reduce Body Fat
There is more than one way to reduce your overall body fat and you will find what is best for you. I have done a mixture of the two below, alongside weight lifting which I personally have found the most effective.
Maintaining a calorie deficit whereby you are working off more than you are consuming will force your body to reduce its overall fat stores. Provided you are consuming enough protein, you will not suffer whilst working out alongside a calorie deficit.
High-Intensity Interval Cardio, or HIIT, is another way to reduce your body fat percentage. HIIT cardio is a method of training whereby you alternate between periods of burn-out and low intensity recovery. For example, alternating between running as fast as you can for 30 seconds and then reducing the speed for the next 30 seconds to recover.
2. Strengthen your core muscles
There’s no shortcut to your six pack. You need to be lean and you need to have a strong core.
You get lean by dieting properly and you have a strong core by doing regular isolation and compound moves.
Squats, dead lifts and over head presses aren’t ab exercises, but doing these moves regularly will help to strengthen your core. If you’re a weight lifter they should be a regular feature in your weekly workouts whether or not you’re training for a six pack. As I said before, building a strong core will help to improve your overall performance as a weightlifter. Your body uses your core to stabilise itself when lifting. The stronger your core the heavier you could lift.
Once you have added these compound moves into your workout routines, add in your isolated ab exercises at the end of your workout. Moves such as planks, v sit-ups and leg lifts are just a few that spring to mind.
Teaming these moves together is the most effective way to build your six pack once you’ve reduced your body fat percentage.
Don’t forget that you need to make sure you’re progressing with your ab exercises. The point of any workout is to get better and stronger, so keep your eye on your progress. Try timing yourself and counting your reps. Or add weights/resistance to your moves. These should both be gradually increasing as you progress through your workouts.
There are some more ab exercises in my ab workout at the bottom of this post if you are after some inspiration.
The Bottom Line
This isn’t an overnight process. As with anything that is worthwhile, it takes time. I have set myself the challenge of creating a strong and trimmed six pack by the end of 2018, so I’ll keep you updated with my progress – the first step of which can be seen in the featured image of this post (above) alongside my piggy slippers cause they’re too cute to crop out.
If you have patience and are willing to commit to months of correctly training and dieting you’ll have a six pack before you know it!
Happy training wonderful people.