There’s a lot of conflicting information on the internet about how to reveal your abs. Some say you have to eat no carbs. Some say you have to do 100 crunches every day. Some say you have to eat only clean foods.
None of that is true. It’s actually simpler than you think.
1. Learn How Fat Loss Works
The first thing you need to know is that your abs will not show unless you first make changes to your diet. Ever hear the saying “abs are made in the kitchen?” It has been popularized because nutrition is the single most important factor when it comes to revealing those 6 small bumps that men and women alike inexplicably drool over.
You don’t have to do anything as drastic as eating a zero carb diet. While this works for some, it is 1) typically not the best method considering it’s a tough diet to stick to long term, and 2) no fun.
In order to reveal your 6-pack, you need to decrease your body fat percentage. In order to decrease your body fat percentage, you need to lose weight — and not just any weight. You want to lose fat while maintaining your lean body mass. This can be accomplished by consuming fewer calories than you burn throughout the day (this leads to weight loss) and following a high-protein diet* (this helps your body maintain it’s lean mass). Doing so forces the majority of the weight you lose to come from fat stores.
*I suggest 1g of protein per lb of bodyweight
2. Cut Out The Junk
Yes, you can eat a high-protein diet that puts you in a calorie deficit while eating junk food. Junk food is just less filling and craving-inducing. Your life will be much easier — not to mention healthier — if you make clean food choices most of the time. These include fresh fruits & vegetables, nuts, meats, and dairy.
200 calories of cake and 200 calories of fruit will have a similar outcome at the end of the day when it comes to your weight. Therefore, I do recommend including an occasional treat if it promotes sustainability and diet retention. Just try to eat healthy most of the time while sticking to your daily calorie goal; it will curb your hunger and keep you more satisfied.
If you stall losing weight, simply decrease your daily calorie intake or perform more physical activity.
3. Perform Cardio
Remember how I said you need to consume fewer calories than you burn? Cardio is the fastest way to burn more calories. This, in effect, allows you to eat more while also losing more fat. Studies have shown that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) burns a similar amount of calories as moderate intensity cardio, but promotes a small increase in lean muscle mass. That means high-intensity cardio will decrease your body fat percentage a little bit faster than low-to-moderate intensity cardio.
Try jump roping or sprints — anything that will get you pushing your max heart rate quickly and in short bursts. Intervals of 20 seconds of high-intensity work followed by 40 seconds of rest for 10-15 minutes is plenty to get the fat melting off.
4. Lift Weights
What does lifting weights have to do with revealing your abs? A whole lot. Resistance training is one of the best possible things you can do to decrease your body fat percentage. It burns calories to help you lose weight and promotes lean body mass retention (and even growth in some cases) when eating in a calorie deficit. Also, the more muscle mass you have, the more calories your body burns at rest — AKA you’ll lose fat even faster.
Find a good lifting routine that hits all of your major muscles. Compound movements such as squats and deadlifts provide the best bang for your buck. Lifting weights 4-6 times per week will maximize your lean body mass and reveal those abs even sooner.
5. Exercise Your Abs!
Now that your nutrition and exercise are on track, you need to make sure you actually have abs to show!
Well, that’s only half true. Everyone has abs under the belly fat. In fact, you can have a 6-pack without ever doing a single abdominal exercise.
So, why work your abs if you can get a 6-pack without exercising them? Answer: working your abs will make them thicker and harder, causing them to poke through the belly fat much sooner and with less dieting.
Find a good ab routine and make sure you’re hitting both your Rectus abdominis and Transverse abdominis. The function of the Rectus abdominis is spinal flexion, AKA crunching motions. The Transverse abdominis is a flat layer underneath the Rectus abdominis; you can work it with planks.
And that’s it! It takes time to reveal your 6-pack, so follow these 5 steps and be patient. Those starting with a lower body fat percentage will be able to achieve chiseled abs sooner than those starting with a high body fat percentage. Don’t get discouraged if it takes longer than you would like. Learn to love the process and you’ll reach your goal in no time.