If you’ve been working out for a while and want to see changes in your body but don’t, you probably find yourself changing up routines and supplements and diets. We all know that the ultimate sign of an athlete (without having to prove you’re an athlete) is having a 6 pack. Something many of us actually don’t have. They are hard to achieve and hard to keep. Here’s how to get going towards achieving them.
Treat Them Like a Real Muscle
…cause they are. Too many times you’ll be seeing people doing a hundred crunches, throwing their head forward and back in a desperate attempt for 6 pack domination. The problem with that is it is the same as deciding to skip the gym and opt for doing 100 air squats at home. Yeah, after a while things will start to be stronger, but you could achieve much more in a smaller amount of time if you throw some weights into the mix. Incorporating weighted moves into your ab routine is one of the best decisions you can make. Your abs are muscles and they need to be completely worked and fatigued in order to grow. The same logic you use on leg day applies here. Some great moves to use include Weighted Cable Crunch, Decline Situp with Weight Overhead, Weighted Russian Twists.
Outside of the work you do in the gym, your abs are depending on your good decisions everywhere else. People are often deceived into thinking that by eating a lot of salad and greek yogurt, they will definitely reach that six pack goal. The truth is that a lot of people who don’t realize that dream are either eating the wrong foods or not enough foods. The problem with both is that you’re telling your body to do the opposite of what you want. While people are much more educated in terms of nutrition and working out, there are still some big misconceptions. If you ask a normal person to name a carbohydrate, they can only think of carb heavy foods (bread, pasta, potatoes). The problem with that is most people don’t realize that you can eat only vegetables all day and get your daily dose of carbohydrates. Broccoli, squash, quinoa, asparagus…those are the carbs to eat in order to help bring out a 6 pack. And that Grande 6-pump Vanilla Soy Latte, 3-pump Caramel, No Foam won’t help you much either.
Understand the Body
And when I say “the body” I mean “your body”. Tons of people complain that their abs are strong, but they can’t see it, or that no matter how many crunches they do, they just don’t improve that area. This is when it matters the most to know how your body functions. For some, they can do a million and one situps, but can’t hold an L-sit for more than 15 seconds. For others, they do one leg raise and their abs pop like crazy. Many people overestimate their core strength to begin with. Here are a few moves to do to figure out how weak you might be: L-sits for time will humble you pretty quickly, overhead squats will have your barbell shaking faster than a tambourine during Mardi Gras, and Decline Crescent Situps will have you cringing faster than a kick to the groin (both ladies and men). Yes, you need to work all parts of your core and no, it isn’t just the “top”, “middle”, and “bottom”. If your lower back is weak, your core won’t be as much help as it could be.
If you’re doing everything right and you still don’t see those abs, you need to cut the fat. A normal athlete looks healthy, but for a 6 pack athlete, there is much more fat on top and in between your muscles than you realize. Burning fat is a 3 part move consisting of eating to boost your metabolism, lifting weights to tear your body a part, and sweating to burn calories. Yes, you burn calories doing the other two (lifting weights increases metabolism while consistently eating keeps your body burning through your calories instead of storing), but sweating it out in an intense HIIT routine or on the treadmill is the final piece of the puzzle. It is the main reason why bodybuilders during the off-season look much thicker than when they are competing, because their cardio time decreases immensely and their food intake increases. If you work hard and burn the fat that sits between your abs, you’ll soon be seeing a pack appear.
Remember, burning fat is a simple math equation, you burn more calories than you consume. Eat smart, include the right carbohydrates and fats into your diet, and treat your abs like the muscles they are. Keep things realistic. Some people have the perfect magazine image of a 6 pack while others have a uneven 4 pack and a lot of striations. That isn’t to discourage you but rather remind you everyone is different. No matter what, nothing beats strong.