Have you noticed that out of all the body parts, six-pack abs are the most heavily marketed promise in the health and wellness industry?
Yes, other body parts such as the glutes come in at a close second place, but nonetheless, all you hear people talk about is abs this and abs that.
Open any fitness, weight loss, or bodybuilding-oriented magazine or visit health-related websites and you'll find a reference to six-pack abs in there somewhere.
Yet it's also one of the most elusive physical attributes to develop. A lot of people try everything they possibly can to get six-pack abs, but nothing seems to work despite doing an endless number of crunches.
Have you been trying to develop those washboard abs that everyone worships, but have come up short time and time again?
Have you purchased every ab contraption that promised the world, but your results were less than you expected?
If so, try not to beat yourself up too much, because it’s not as easy as everyone makes it out to be.
In reality, it takes a combination of resistance training, cardio exercises, and most importantly, a healthy diet that enhances fat loss.
There are no magical solutions to developing rock-hard abs.
So, don’t let anyone fool you into thinking there’s some Easy Button because it doesn’t exist.
However, if you adopt the right mindset and except the fact that it will take a consistent systematic approach to get those flat abs you’ve been dreaming about, you will be halfway there, because the rest of the way is simply doing the work.
Think of developing six-pack abs as a recipe.
For example; if you want to bake a cake, you follow the recipe and after you’ve gone through the process, the end result is a beautiful dessert.
It’s no different for toning your stomach, if you follow a proven process that includes the right diet and exercise, the end result will be flat abs or a reduced mid-section.
The million-dollar question is how can you get six-pack abs?
I’m going to provide you with a simple three-step process as a framework that you can begin implementing immediately.
It’s not the end-all-be-all, but will provide you with a solid foundation and teach you the proper way to think about developing a flat mid-section without setting unrealistic goals so that you can manage your expectations to avoid disappointment.
Let’s dive in…
STEP 1: Change Begins With Your Diet
The only way to get your abdominal muscles to show up is by reducing the layer of fat that covers them.
This is the fine print that’s left out when you’re being pitched to about some ab contraption or program that promises you a six-pack.
In order to lose enough fat for your ab muscles to show, you need to start with your diet.
Ideally, this means consuming just enough protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats to feed your lean muscle mass and not your overall body weight which contains unwanted pounds.
For example; let’s say you weigh 150 pounds, but only 120 pounds is lean muscle mass. You would eat enough to feed those 120 pounds instead of the 150.
Now, I’m not going to sugarcoat and tell you this will be easy, not at first anyway.
However, there’s a price to pay to have six-pack abs, which is one of the reasons why so few people have them.
Don’t worry, this simply means you’ll be eating fewer calories than you normally consume on a daily basis.
Dieting is the most complex fitness component and there’s no one size that fits all.
You have to take the time to figure out what the best calorie range you should stay in is based on protein, complex carbs, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and various complex carbohydrates should make up the bulk of your diet.
You can include some lean meats in moderation to add more protein to your diet.
I say in moderation because no matter how lean a cut of meat is, it still contains some amounts of fat and if consumed in large quantities can increase the fat around your abdominal muscles, which totally goes against your goal of developing a six-pack.
A healthy diet that’s tailored to your caloric needs is the key to removing that layer of fat from around your ab muscles, period.
Unfortunately, you cannot develop six-pack abs using a spot-training approach because you have to lose overall body fat in order to flatten out your stomach.
The abs are the last place you’ll lose fat from.
If you haven’t already noticed, pay attention to the thousands of people who have toned all of their body parts except the abs.
They are frustrated to no end because every muscle group is lean, but they still have bulging mid-sections.
All because the abs is the last place we us humans lose fat from, whether we like it or not.
Diet is crucial - it's often said that a great body is built first in the kitchen, then in the gym.
As a side note, when you combine the proper diet with resistance training, and cardio some of the effective ab machines will be beneficial and actually help in developing a six-pack.
If you want to develop some flat attractive abs, mastering your diet is a must.
STEP 2: Build Lean Muscle Mass
The second step is to build more lean muscle mass throughout your body.
It’s a known fact that bigger muscles burn more fat.
I’m not talking about becoming a bodybuilder unless you want to.
Now, you might be thinking; "Shouldn't I be focused on my abs?"
Yes, you should absolutely work out your midsection. However, that alone isn't going to get you the six-pack you want.
Do you remember in step one I talked about how spot-training the abs doesn’t work because you have to lose overall body fat first?
It’s worth mentioning again.
Have you ever seen someone with a six-pack that had a flabby body everywhere else?
Probably not, because the human body doesn’t function that way.
Building muscle throughout your body will increase your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which increases the amount of fat and calories you burn every day, even while you’re resting.
This will in turn reduce the amount of fat in your stomach area, making your abdominal muscles much more visible.
Tip: Be careful using heavy weights in your ab training routine, because this can cause your muscles to become bulky. Remember, the abs are muscles and can be overdeveloped just like any other body part such as the arms. Buff abs don’t tend to look very attractive, because the goal is to flatten them out, not make them bigger.
For the best results, keep your repetitions for each exercise set such as crunches in the 15 to 25 range.
You can use light weights to challenge your abs but don’t go overboard.
Try mixing up the exercises that you use to train your abs to prevent boredom and plateaus.
Implement bodyweight and ab-machine exercises when possible.
Never forget that you must train every muscle group to build lean mass.
This lean muscle mass will melt the fat off of every body part including those stubborn abdominal muscles.
STEP 3: Consistent Ab Workouts
Finally, the last step is to remain consistent with your ab-blasting workouts.
We all know that putting in the work is the only way to get the desired results and there are no effective non-surgical shortcuts.
Examples of Great Ab Exercises:
- Reverse Crunch on a Weight Bench
- Arm-Reaching Crunch
- Stability Ball Crunch
- Stability Ball Crunch with Rotation
- Russian Twist on Stability Ball
- Resistance Band Crunch
- Stability Ball Bridge
- Various Ab Machines
This is a partial list of the many types of ab exercises that are available to you.
I listed various types of crunches because overall are one of the most safest and effective ab exercises you can do.
Safety Tip: Be certain not to pull on your head as you crunch upward to avoid neck and spinal injuries.
I’ve mentioned several times the importance of training your entire body including abs so that you build lean muscle mass, which will naturally burn fat.
The downside to training only your abdominal muscles and neglecting the rest of your body before losing overall body fat, especially in your midsection, is that you could actually make your abdomen look fatter.
The new muscles you build will push the fat outward, making you look worse rather than better.
This is similar to the results you’ll get using heavy weights during your ab training exercises.
The key is to implement a steady workout routine for your upper and lower body and take on a diet that helps you burn fat.
Don’t forget that the only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.
I just provided you with three powerful steps that can reward you with a set of six-pack abs or at the very least, a much flatter mid-section.
If you follow my three steps, which include changing your diet, building fat-burning lean muscle mass, and training your entire body consistently, in a few months you should start to see the outline of your new abs.
You’d be pleased to know that on average, most people who remain consistent usually begin having visible abdominal muscles in about six months.
Of course, everybody is different, which means there’s no magical timeline.
It won't happen overnight, but if you put in the time and energy, it'll happen for you just as it has for thousands of others.
By the way, this article is about developing six-pack abs.
However, don’t forget to incorporate exercises that strengthen and develop your entire CORE which of course includes the rectus abdominis, pelvis, internal and external obliques, transverse abdominis, erector spinae, etc.
Developing your entire CORE can prevent imbalances that can cause injury due to stronger muscle groups having to overcompensate for weaker ones.
There is no reason why you can’t develop a flat mid-section if you’re willing to do what it takes and remain patient during the journey.
As I mentioned in the beginning, this article is not the end-all-be-all to getting a rock-hard set of abs.
However, it does provide you with a solid understanding of what it takes to get there.
Go make it happen and begin getting your stomach beach-ready, starting today.