FACT 1 – Everyone has abs.
FACT 2 – Everyone wants to have a chiselled set of abs.
FACT 3 – Most people can’t achieve this due to a high body fat percentage.
Whether be at the beach or at a music festival, people will usually notice how your belly looks. Self conscious or not, I’m sure no one out there wants a gut wobbling above their waistline; Santa being an exception of course.
Then as if reading our thoughts, companies sought out to help mankind and created products and exercise programs focused purely on trimming the gut. Needless to say, they don’t provide results anywhere near to what they advertise.
So then, how do you get a nice washboard like set of abs? Through consistent working out and a clean diet that’s how, none of these gimmicky ab programs or ab rocking devices.
If you’re gruelling it out solely doing crunches, leg raises and bicycle kicks in the hope that your abs will shine through the flab then you’re doing it all wrong (as I personally find out later in this article). Simply, focusing on ab exercises won’t target the (visceral) fat around that area… it just doesn’t work that way.
Granted, these exercises will strengthen those muscles helping them grow, get chiselled and make you survive through a punch but they won’t make your abs stand out as much as you think.
Instead, what you should be doing is combining those isolation exercises with proven fat burning routines like high intensity circuit or weight training. It’s all about shedding body fat and through exercise you’ll be that one step closer.
So now you know that to blast the fat concealing your abs you will need to lower your overall body fat percentage. Exercise will definitely help you get there, but diet is the one factor that plays an even more crucial role of burning and keeping that fat away for good.
After all, there’s not much point spending countless hours at the gym or boot camp only to reverse all that hard work by not having complete control over what foods you are eating. This is an area I won’t cover here though since this article isn’t about how to lose weight or eat clean (although if you needed help with this you can read my other article with some useful tips).
One part of the diet requirement worth mentioning though, is your intake of carbohydrates, better known as carbs. You see, carbs have a tendency of spiking blood sugar levels (glucose) resulting in plenty of available energy for a short-term period. Basically, when we do not use that energy it gets stored as fat and it just so happens that the belly is the most convenient place to do so. Not all carbs are bad though, but for the most part they are which include soft drinks, juices, beer, pasta, white rice and white bread (learn more about the effects of carbs on your diet and body here).
So to put it all in perspective, let’s use myself as an example. My workout routine and frequency is weight training 3-4 times a week and I stick to a high protein-medium carb diet. I mainly drink water and keep alcohol consumption to a minimum (sad I know). This has resulted in a body fat percentage of around 12.5% and 4 pack abs; I also don’t do any ab exercises at all.
Before I went on my recent holiday to the states, I challenged myself to get my lower abs to show, essentially the full “six pack”. The catch was that my gym workout and diet had to stay the same, the only addition would be 15 minutes worth of ab isolation exercises before bed on rest days (3 days). These exercises consisted of planks, side planks, crunches, bicycle kicks, cross kicks and my favourite weighted leg raises. So after 3 months of this did it work? Did I succeed?
Failure. Even though I focused purely on training my lower abdominals, visually they were no different. The rest of my abs definitely felt stronger and the existing 4 had more slightly more poke but alas the bottom two remained hidden.
So lesson learnt, you can’t get better looking abs purely with ab exercises as mentioned before.
Sure I could have revamped my diet further and added another day to my workout routine to focus on fat burning (high intensity cardio and abs) to get my body fat below 10 percent but that’s not me, I’m happy with my balanced lifestyle… it’s not like I’m competing or something. And that’s an important concept, finding the right balance which suits you.
Whilst I’ve got your attention, I should mention that if I were taller I’d probably already have a six pack. But because of the short length between my pectorals and waist, I can only squash in four! It’s definitely not an excuse, but I do believe there is some truth behind it.
What do you think of my theory? Check out this comparison (don’t ask why I chose Ryan Renolds).
So in the end hopefully this might help dispel any illusions about how easy it is to get a good visible six pack. After all, this wasn’t meant to be a guide on how to get them, but it all starts off with knowledge.
You could always do it the wrong way and just starve yourself, great for dropping body fat (sarcasm). Or you could buy one of these great gizmos:
Do it the right way by toiling it out at the gym and tweaking your diet… take control! Love to hear your experiences in your quest to get well defined abs or that 6 or 8 pack. Or even any questions feel free to comment 🙂