So it’s what we all (well I’m guessing everyone who’s stumbled across this at least!) wants but just can’t seem to attain… the perfect six pack! You hit your abs constantly at the gym but just can’t understand why you can’t get that toned definition you’re looking for. Or maybe you’re just starting out and want to make sure you’re not wasting your efforts and energy on the way to reaching your goal.
Well, there are a few common mistakes that people make when trying to bring out their abs, one of the main ones being that if you just keep working on them they’ll magically appear. I hate to break it to you but if you’re holding a few extra pounds around your midsection then you could very well have abs of steal but they’re never going to show until you shift the excess weight!
I have friends who curse the inability to get abs often referencing to friends skinnier than them who have abs with no effort, in most of the cases when I ask to see an image of who they’re talking about they show me a picture of guys who have no weight on them whatsoever but also have no muscle either! This is where I point out that a flat stomach is distinctly different to a good six pack, we can all have a flat stomach if we sacrifice food and proper hydration, getting good abs take work in the weight, cardio and dieting area FACT!
Personally, I’d take a muscular physique with abs I’ve had to work for over a skinny torso just to show off my midsection any day of the week (I’m pretty sure any potential female partners would probably say the same as well gents!).
So without further ado here are a few tips on how to achieve the perfect abs without having to sacrifice every other aspect of your physique at the same time.
Work your entire abdominal set
A common mistake people make is assuming that they can attain perfect abs just by performing 200 sit ups a day. This is only going to work your main area and as any of you already working towards the perfect six-pack will know there is a whole lot more to it than just the main section. Your lower abs and oblique’s can be tediously difficult to tone but can be done if you follow a balanced routine hitting all areas of your abs. This means upper, lower, sides and oblique’s through a variety of different abdominal exercises.
A fact that many are unaware of is that too many sit-ups and crunches can damage your spinal discs, so if you are one of the people performing endless sit-ups and crunches but failing to address the other aspects of bringing out your abs, I really hope you’re taking note whilst reading! Saying this both exercises should be part of your work out but in the right proportion.
I’ll cover ab exercises in detail in a later post but these are just a few ideas to get you started on top of sit ups and standard crunches, which you should already be aware of:
– Reverse Crunch
– Side Crunches
– Medicine Ball Twists
– Torso rotation
– Hanging leg lifts (lying leg raises if you have no apparatus available)
– Planks (Front and sides)
– Window wipers
Perform exercises in an upright position
Again doing away with the myth of sit ups being all you need, working them in an upright position can not only work your entire ab area but provides a lot more functional workout. Most exercises that easily spring to mind are performed in a lying down position; however grab a medicine ball and your possibilities quickly expand. Since most of the time you’re likely to be showing off your abs whilst standing (or walking along the beach on holiday!) there’s no point in only telling your body to turn on your core when on your back!
Increase your sleep
Getting a solid night’s sleep is something that a lot of people fail to realise assists in your work towards making your abs stand out. Lack of sleep increases your stress hormone levels in turn leading to you retaining fat stores on your stomach.
An interesting fact I found when researching for this post was that studies carried out in Switzerland found that cold feet interfere with the release of the sleep-inducing hormone (melatonin) and sleeping on your right as opposed to your left lifts the stomach higher than your oesophagus, increasing your risk of acid reflux. I’m always careful not to suggest that studies provide a method of what works for all based on the usually limited knowledge of the sample size and other contributing factors. However if you’re struggling to sleep why not try checking your socks back on and sleeping on your left-hand side.
If you already do both of these and still struggle to sleep there are several other contributing factors to the inability to sleep, which I’m quite happy to do a post on if anyone wants more info.
Turn up the intensity!
We’ve covered the benefits of increasing your intensity in the post on High-Intensity Interval Training, however, it’s worth mentioning to re-emphasise. High-intensity workouts increase your growth hormone and testosterone levels, helping you on the way to your holiday six-pack. Adding higher intensity into your weight workout will also help to build muscle whilst burning fat meaning you can take big strides to not only good abs but the perfect beach body!
By this, I’m referring to swapping your coffee or cuppa for a green tea, which if drunk within 2 hours of eating a meal can increase the breakdown of fat by up to three times. Green tea also provides a caffeine boost, albeit a lower amount than coffee or normal tea but still enough to get the body going. A good idea is to swap your post-lunch coffee or tea for a green tea instead.
There are a whole host of flavours in green tea now so even if the taste of normal green tea isn’t for you then you can find one to suit your taste buds. Apart from aiding in weight loss, which will bring out the abs you’ve been working so hard on, green tea also has a host of other benefits so is definitely worth getting into your diet.
Coffee lovers… you can keep it!
Caffeine has been found to increase your metabolic rate and help athletic endurance so if you’re a real coffee lover but think that in order to have a healthy training diet you need to kick it out, that doesn’t have to be the case. Having a cup 30-45 mins prior to a workout can result in both a better work out and also increased post-exercise fat burn due to the effect on your metabolism.
Add some heat to your meals
If you don’t have the tongue to take on hot food then this one probably isn’t for you but adding some spice to your meals can help to burn off excess fat by boosting your metabolism. Try adding cayenne pepper to your meals as another way to increase your fat burn post meal. It can also help decrease your craving for sweet and fatty food meaning you shouldn’t find yourself wanting to go back for desert!
Now you know that there’s more to getting a six-pack than simply doing sit ups or even just working out your abs I hope you can start to plan both your workout and lifestyle to ensure you can reach your target of the perfect six-pack in a sixth of the time originally planned!
There are many Health and Fitness Tips in “Health and Fitness Magazine”