Six pack abs are the symbol of fitness for many people, and just like all fitness indicators, they are obtainable for anyone who is willing to put in the effort. All of the abdominal muscles are there; they just aren’t developed enough to pop, and are often hidden under a layer of fat. So, in order to have defined muscular abs, you need to drop fat and gain muscle. Here are a few ways to get the waist you want:
Eating the right foods is crucial to building muscle and dropping the shroud of fat covering it. When you reduce the processed foods, sugar, soda, sodium, and carbs, and increase eating whole foods, fruits, and vegetables, you allow your body to drop water weight and adipose (fat) tissue covering your definition. You also reduce internal bloating and pressure that can cause abdominal swelling. Without the right meal plan, it’s difficult to achieve and maintain a tight torso.
Reduce Body Fat
You can do a million sit-ups a day, but if you don’t take off the wrapping, people will never see the work. Fat is the enemy when your goal is muscle definition. Eating clean, reducing calories, not eating late at night, and drinking enough water are all ways to reduce your body’s hold on fat. Also, adequate sleep and removing stress from your life helps to reduce the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that causes your body to store more fat and crave calorie-rich comfort foods. Remember, there is no way to spot train to reduce fat from just your stomach area—any weight-loss tool that makes this claim should be viewed with skepticism. Your body will drop weight from every area simultaneously, not just your abs.
Increase Abdominal Muscle Through Weights and Core Work
Increasing the size of your abdominal muscles through anaerobic weight training while decreasing fat will produce the six pack of your dreams. Anaerobic means “without oxygen,” and is generally an exercise with enough intensity to cause lactic acid fermentation, which helps build muscle. There are many core exercises that will help you achieve this: You will see results from incorporating hand weights, gym equipment, or simply body-weight exercises. While sit-ups are the go-to exercise, you can also do planks, push-ups, leg lifts, and pull-ups, which work your entire core. Also, increasing muscle in your back to match your abs will ensure that you maintain proper posture. Don’t forget the obliques, which will frame your waist when toned. Do twisting exercises either on the gym machine or on the mat with weights. Increasing over-all muscle will speed up your metabolism, which will help you maintain your six-pack.
A great way to drop weight so you can see those strong stomach muscles is through cardiovascular training. When you invest in cardio, you burn calories, strengthen your circulatory system, increase your endurance, and kick-start your metabolism. Cardio is just another way to say aerobic training; meaning “living in air.” It refers to the use of oxygen to adequately meet energy demands during exercise via aerobic metabolism. Cardio can include bike riding, dancing, running, rowing, or climbing stairs. One of my favorite cardio exercises to increase abdominal strength is swimming, which works the entire body. The butterfly stroke and dolphin kicks on the kick board are both great exercises to target the abdominal muscles.
Invest in Circuit and Interval Training
The most effective training program utilizes both endurance cardio with interval and circuit training. Interval training involves periods of high-intensity exercise with rest periods. Think of a sprint workout where you run 400 meters at an intense pace, then rest for two minutes before doing it again. Interval training straddles both sides of cardio endurance work. While with cardio, you may perform at 60% effort for an hour, in interval training you perform at 95% effort for a few minutes before allowing yourself a recovery rest period. Interval training is thought to be even more effective than sustained cardio for fat loss, as its intensity spikes your body’s fat-burning activity to a higher level. Exercise programs utilizing circuit training, which is a form of interval training that adds in weights and resistance exercises, seem to be the most effective for building muscle and definition.
As you can see, getting six pack abs isn’t easy, but it’s well worth the effort once obtained. While your primary goal may be to have a striking physique for your beach vacation, the investment you make in your body to obtain this will bring you to a new level of fitness and overall vitality. I guess great abs really are a great indicator of all-around fitness and health!
Do you feel frustrated because you can’t build strong, flat abs no matter how many crunches or leg raises you perform? An Abdominal Workout Plan to Help You Build Strong, Flat AbsFeatured photo credit: istolethetv via Flickr