Are you searching for a shortcut to six-pack abs? Sorry, there isn’t one. Regardless of the flashy ads and late night infomercials, there is no magic pill, machine or secret to a six-pack.Those washboard abs are the result of a balanced healthy diet plus the right combination cardio and weight training. You need to train your core muscles, including your abdominals, as you work to minimize the layer of body fat that covers and hides your abs.
How low can you go?
A healthy body fat percentage for the average male is 18-24%. But even at this “healthy” level, your abs will not be defined. They may be there if you’ve been working hard, but they won’t begin to show until you reach about 15% and you’ll see the top two rows. To achieve the full six-pack effect you need to drop below 13% body fat.
How do you reach this low level?
Your six-pack starts in the kitchen. Start with a healthy diet, lean proteins, complex carbohydrates and healthy fatty acids. To reach six-pack levels of body fat, you’ll have to give up the processed fast foods and junk foods, kiss the burgers and pizzas goodbye.
You’ll also need to reduce your portion sizes, eat smaller and more frequent meals (every 3-4 hours) to stabilize your blood sugar and the associated insulin levels. Once you eliminate these hormonal swings, your body will stop fighting you and allow you to burn more stored body fat.
To get down to the 15% body fat level, you’ll have to give up a few high calorie treats like beer and alcohol at 150-400 calories each, and avoid those sweet syrup coffee drinks and frappucinos at 500-800 calories! If you need caffeine, stick to a 5 calorie black coffee.
Drink more water
Speaking of drinks, one of the easiest ways to reduce your sugar and calorie intake is to go cold turkey on the sodas and colas (yes, even the sugar-free varieties). Bottled juices, sodas, and those frappuccinos are loaded with corn syrup and liquid calories. The sugar-free varieties are packed with unhealthy chemical sweeteners that also support your craving for “sweet”. By replacing all of these drinks with water, you will drop calories and pounds and help stay hydrated.
The difference between fat or lean, or flat abs vs. six pack comes down to this simple equation: calories in minus calories burned equals calorie deficit (negative calories). Safe, effective and permanent weight loss and body fat reduction comes from a DAILY calorie deficit.
Here’s a simple example, you eat 1800 healthy calories everyday and visit the gym, pool or track every day and burn 2300 calories between your metabolism and exercise. You have a 500 calorie deficit (2300-1800) daily. Do this every day for 7 days and you will have lost one pound (3500 calories). This deficit is what drives weight loss or weight maintenance and can help you drop down to six-pack levels of body fat. But to do that, you need to increase your intensity and up your calorie burn.
You can’t spot reduce body fat
While men store additional fat around the waist, and women store fat in the waist, hips and thighs, neither can “spot reduce” fat. To shrink your waist and reduce the layer of fat to expose your abdominal muscles, you must reduce stored body fat all over your body.
Cardio fat burning
This body fat reduction is best accomplished by regular cardiovascular training like running, swimming, biking etc. or by a combination of cardio and bodyweight calisthenics known as High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT. Exercises like jumping jacks, bodyweight squats and lunges, jump kicks, and burpees are ideal for HIIT workouts.
Crunches and sit-ups will not produce a six-pack
You need a series of core exercises in addition to (or in place of) your abdominal training to develop your abs. These ab exercises will help develop your core muscles, including those abdominals, but keep in mind they won’t be visible until you eliminate the layer of abdominal fat that covers them. To help reduce this fat layer, perform your core training in combination with, or after you complete your…
Fat-burning HIIT training
High intensity interval training or HIIT, combines a series of short intense exercises alternating with even shorter “active” rest periods. This brief but intense weight training combined with short bursts of cardio will increase your metabolism and your body will even continue to burn calories after your workout. HIIT training promotes a process known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC, which results in an elevated metabolism that continues to burn calories for up to six hours after your workout.
If you stick with the intense exercise and strict healthy diet, you WILL develop great abs with that 6-pack. Stay motivated, as your body fat levels decrease and the faint outline of those abs begins to show, you will work even harder to reach your 6-pack goal!