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How To Get A Six Pack

What do Zac Efron, Justin Bieber and Jennifer Lopez all have in common? Yes, lots of money. Yes, worldwide fame. Yes, they can all sing. But, they are also fanatical about maintaining their killer abs too. But how do they do it? And can you do it too? 

What are Six Pack Abs?

The largest muscle in the abdomen is the rectus abdominis. Six Pack Abs, or ‘Washboard Abs’ is where the definition of your abdominal muscles is not concealed by subcutaneous fat and visceral fat; and instead your abdomen muscles create the prominent visual appearance of 3 bands separated by a central connective tissue.

Why Don’t I Have A Six Pack? 

In real terms, it takes a lot of persistent effort to achieve a six pack and the work that needs to be done isn’t just restricted to the gym. Half of the battle takes place in the kitchen. So why don’t you have a six pack?

1) You drink alcohol - treating yourself to a few beers on the weekend after a hard week of work may sound great, and it is; just not for your abs. The average pint has 200 calories, and the average large glass of wine has 250 calories. That means that you’ll need to add 30 minutes to your workout, each drink, to balance out the impact of your alcohol. But, it isn’t just the calorific impact that is preventing your six pack from showing. Most alcoholic drinks, like lager and prosecco are heavily carbonated. Carbonated drinks will cause your stomach to bloat for at least 24 hours covering up your hard spent hours in the gym.

2) You eat fatty foods - scientific studies suggest that having more than 6-8% body fat can prevent you from having those killer six pack abs, and with the average adult having 26% body fat it is easy to see why the definition is so difficult to obtain. If you are consuming too many calories, and in particular too much fat, then you will find it incredibly difficult to maintain lean muscle definition. Minimising your fatty food intake is key to reducing your body fat.

3) You eat too many vegetables - we understand that this may sound crazy. The truth is vegetables are incredibly good for your body health and your body weight; but they aren’t great when it comes to having well defined visible abs. This is because cruciferous vegetables, such as kale and cauliflower are fibre rich, which means whether you like it or not they will give you ‘gas’, and will bloat your stomach. This will disguise your abs and inflate your gut. Try mixing up your vegetable intake with carrots, celery and cucumber.

4) You do the wrong exercises - the common misconception is that a six pack comes from pounding your stomach muscles with rep after rep of sit ups and stomach crunches; and this is simply not right. While crunches and sit ups are great for your core strength and great for building your rectus abdominis; the key to a six pack is building your obliques and your transverse abdominus muscles. You can exercise these muscles through incorporating side planks and glute bridges into your workout.

5) You need to add resistance - reps isn’t the answer. Well it is and it isn’t. Huge amounts of reps will help you build your muscle stamina and core strength, but the level of resistance that you put on your reps is the key to getting those defined abdominal muscles. The body will adapt to endless repetitions quite quickly and efficiently. A six pack can only be created by taking your body outside of its comfort zone, and to do this, you must periodically increase the resistance (weight) in your abs exercises.

How Long Does It Take To Get A Six Pack?

That is the million dollar question. To most of us, a six pack is the holy grail and something that we tirelessly work towards. The truth is most of us will never have a perfectly defined six pack; but if you are determined to quest towards joining the likes of LL Cool J and Selena Gomez; you will need to dedicate 18-24 months towards the challenge.

How To Get A Six Pack in 18 Months

The average adult has 26% of body fat. The average six pack bearer has 6-8% body fat. This means that the average adult needs to responsibly, safely and sustainability shred 18-20% of their body fat to be in the sphere of weight and health to create those perfectly defined abs.

Health professionals recommend targeting to safely lose 1% body fat per month.

Our six tips to getting a six pack are:

  1. Cut 500 calories a day - To lose 1 pound per week, you should be cutting 500 calories per day from your diet. 
  2. Increase protein intake - You should aim to consume 1 gram of protein per 2 pounds that you weigh. 
  3. Add HIIT to your gym regime - High intensity intermittent training twice a week is a realistic commitment to set.
  4. Abdominal resistance training - Combine high quantity reps with periodically increasing resistance weights when you are training abdominal muscles.
  5. Don’t overtrain your abs - Overtraining your abdominal muscles can reduce their stamina and definition. Make sure you keep ab workouts to a maximum of 3 times a week.
  6. Train other muscle groups - To avoid overtraining your abs, but to keep you in the gym, you should train other muscle groups. This will keep your fat burning going throughout the week.

The key thing to remember when setting your fitness goals is that fitness should be about happiness, health and longevity. Your fitness schedule should be able to sustainably fit around your lifestyle and be conducive to a healthy all-round life. A fitness schedule and lifestyle choice as intensive as you’d need for washboard abdominal muscles may not be possible, but do your best, and wear your gym body with pride no matter what that looks like.