The million dollar question: How do I get a six pack??
This is one of those questions that if I made a dollar off every time someone asked me, I would be a wealthy trainer. And I’m sure you’ve asked it yourself (unless you're one of those genetically blessed hybrid humans with a permanent ninja turtle shell). But for the majority of humans, it's a challenge. You may follow “six pack ab” posts and bust out some sit ups every chance you get, but the abs just don’t seem to cooperate with the program. Before we jump into my tips for sculpting abs, I want to point out some factors that play a role in ab development.
- First of all, there is a genetic factor. And this my friends, is something we can’t do a thing about. Our bodies have a genetic code that decide where we store more fat, and where it burns more fat. Some people just naturally carry their weight in their midsection, while others carry it in their butt, or evenly dispersed throughout the entire body. That being said, if you don’t have genetic abs, it doesn’t mean its impossible for you to have them. It simply means you just need to put in a little more effort than someone who does.
- The Child Bearing factor. Whether you’ve had kids or not definitely plays a roll in ab development. I’ve worked with a lot of women before, during, and after pregnancy and a common theme is they obviously want to lose there baby weight and fix the mid section. This is totally doable but I always stress the importance to woman to build a strong core BEFORE they get pregnant. You will have a much easier time getting back your shape post baby if you have some muscles already in there to build upon. Obviously child bearing changes your body, so your body most likely won’t be exactly how it was before, but I have worked with several woman post pregnancy who have got in even better shape than their pre-baby body. Again, it just takes a little more effort than before. Also, you don't want to jump right into sit ups post baby, but start strengthening with rotating side planks, and similar exercises so you abs grow back together. I am designing a post baby program so stay tuned in for that.
Alright now lets get to the good stuff. Here are my top tips for sculpting your abs.
- What you eat: You’ve heard it before, Abs are made in the kitchen. Its true. The main reason people don’t have visible abs is because they are hidden underneath a layer of fat. One way to reduce that layer is by eating a healthy diet. First order of caution: LOWER SUGAR INTAKE and CUT OUT ALCOHOL. Just by cutting out processed sugars and alcohol you will start to notice a huge difference. Try to keep your daily intake under 32g of sugar (that’s including sugar from fruit). Second order of caution: INCREASE VEGETABLE INTAKE. You should aim to get at least 2 cups of veggies in a day. This is not difficult if you practice replacing grains with veggies (adding zucchini to your morning oats, making sweet potato buns rather than bread, or cauliflower rice in place of white rice). Also adding greens to your smoothies is a big bonus. Awesome recipes in my Sculpted for Summer program here.
- How you train: Another fabulous way to burn off that ab-hiding layer of fat is to do High Intensity Interval Training (or also known as HIIT). These are short bursts of exercise (usually 30 sec-1 min.) with short rest periods in between. The idea is that your full workout is a little bit shorter (around 30 min.) but you go all out for the time that you are working. You can go harder for 30 seconds than you can for a 6 mile run. This spikes your heart rate, uses more muscles, burns more calories, and actually turns your body to overtime fat burning mode after your workout is over. Rather than sticking to the same 5 mile run every day, mix it up with higher intensity cardio intervals and enjoy the fat burning benefits. Lots of HIIT in my training programs here.
- What to train: You don’t need to end every workout with an ab routine. Abs are just like every other muscle group in our bodies, would you train your legs every day? Probably not. But for some reason people always want to end every workout with some ab work. This is unnecessary and may cause more harm than good. Instead, I recommend training abs 2-3 times per week, and train them good. Rather than just focusing on your frontal 6 pack muscles, target the entire core. This will make the whole area tighter and stronger. Your core includes everything from your shoulders down to your hips. Your abs, lower abs, obliques, back, the entire trunk. And as you get stronger, progress the exercises! Hold your plank longer, add weight to your sit-ups, try adding sliders & stabilization exercises, pick up TRX.
- Remove the bloat: Along with the layer of fat, there’s a good chance there’s some bloat of excess water and gas covering up those precious abs. The week leading up to your swimsuit reveal, try removing these foods that tend to cause the bloat:
• Dairy Milk
• Beans & Legumes
• Artificial Sweeteners (Sucralose, Sorbitol)
5) Stand Tall: Something that most people over look is the importance of good posture and how you hold yourself throughout the day. Practice standing up tall and engaging your core muscles throughout the day. Imagine you’re wearing a corset. It may not seem like much, but over time, if you are using your core throughout the day, your torso will appear lengthened, better for ab display, and it will be stronger from the inside out.
So there you have it, my top five tips for success in the Ab department. Don’t be discouraged if they don’t appear overnight, its a long slow process. I’ve seen my abs change over the past 4 years by following these tips. I didn’t notice the change day to day, or even week to week, but now looking back at pictures I can see the results and the progress made. Good things take time!