How to build a six pack
One of the most sought after fitness goals of many is to sculpt a ripped midsection of six pack abs. Many people are confused and wonder what they need to do in order to reach six pack definition. Here are some basic rules to help you build the abs of your dreams!
The amount of time it will take will depends on your fitness background, current percentage of body fat and your genetic makeup. If you are already very fit and lean with superior genes, you may see a noticeable six pack in as little as a few weeks. If you have more body fat and a slower metabolism, you might have to work a little harder and it can take up to a few months.
Age is another determining factor. Our metabolism slows down as we age, which means you will have to worker harder as you get older. However, this does not mean that you can’t build a six pack! I’ve met men and women in their 50s with sizzling abs and a faster metabolism than many 18 year olds!
Regardless of the variables influencing how long it will take, be prepared to work hard for at least three months to notice a significant difference. If you really commit and work for it, chances are you (and others!) won’t recognize your body when the transformation phase is finished.
Males, females and genetics
Men are able to build muscle much faster than women since they have more testosterone in their body. Similarly, since men have more muscle tissue in their bodies, they expend a larger number of calories which helps burn fat and reveal a chiseled set of abs. This means women generally have to work harder than men, but will eventually reach their goals with a lot of hard work.
Our genetics also play a major role in how quickly we build a six pack and more importantly, what our six pack will look like. If you look at male and female fitness models, you will notice some have full on eight packs; some have six packs whereas others have wide four packs. If you compare men or women with a set of six packs, you’ll notice that the shape, width, thickness and separating lines are completely different. This has nothing to do with your training or diet, but rather your genetic makeup. However, regardless of what your six pack will look like, if you work hard and follow a strict diet, once you achieve six pack status, your set of abs will be jaw-dropping!
How do you actually build a six pack?
The simplest answer is a combination of cardio, weight training and a flawless diet. Your total body fat percentage should be significantly low in order to reveal your abs to begin with.
Some people may already have an outline of a six pack, but not be as shredded as they want to be. This is directly proportional to how strict your diet is and how hard you are actually willing to work. If you regularly drink alcohol, eat junk food and don’t perform high intensity exercise, you’ll find that you always have a tiny layer of fat over your abdominals. If you make sacrifices, train hard and cut out alcohol and junk food, chances are you’ll get to where you want to be.
If you want to look like an athlete, you have to live, eat and train like one. In other words, the stricter you diet and the harder you train, the more chiseled and defined your six packs will become.
The best training methods
Many people may spend hours doing all sorts of abs exercises and wonder why they still don’t have a six pack. The truth is the best sets of abs are achieved by training every inch of your body in combination with high intensity cardio.
Cardio is the tool that will strip away the fat and unveil a lean, ripped core of muscles. Weight training is the mechanism for building muscle definition and sculpting your body.
In theory, the best set of abs will look best on a body that is proportional and has muscle definition all over. Some men will train their upper body and abs and completely neglect their legs. What does this result in? A larger upper body with skinny legs. Some women only train their lower body and neglect their upper body for fear of bulking up.
In summary: the best abs are sculpted by training EVERY muscle group in your body. Since your core is part of your midsection, you will be training your abs even when you are training other muscle groups. For example, training your legs when you squat or perform deadlifts will also train your abs. Similarly, hyperextension (a back exercise) also works your core muscles.
For optimal results, you do not need to train your abs more than twice a week. Spending hours doing crunches is almost meaningless. Instead, focus on training every muscle in your body and fitting in cardio sessions.
Weight training and cardio
You aren’t going to build a six pack by walking at a slow pace on the treadmill. The same goes for lifting extremely light weights with high repetitions which is nothing more than endurance training instead of a muscle building workout.
The best combination for a chiseled set of abs is to lift heavy and incorporate high intensity cardio to eliminate excess body fat. Muscles are built when they are first damaged in the gym and then they recuperate afterwards. Balance your exercise with cardio and weight lifting for maximal results. The more effort you put in, the better your results will be.
When people hear that they need to follow a “strict” diet to build a six pack, they automatically assume they should not be eating much. This is quite the contrary! Anyone who is bulking is always in a surplus of calories. If you are cutting and focusing on losing fat, you will STILL need to consume a significant amount of calories to fuel your exercise.
When you train hard, it is essential to support your body with sufficient nutrition. Starving yourself will only result in a slower metabolism, less muscle and a higher percentage of body fat. This is because your body will detect a famine and will destroy your muscle tissue as a survival mechanism. If you want to build a six pack, you need to feed your muscles with quality nutrition.
Your diet should involve a well-balanced intake of unrefined wholefoods. This includes lean protein, healthy fats and wholegrain carbohydrates. As you become leaner, focus on eating more protein and less carbohydrates. Learn more about what to eat here.
The best news is that your diet should not leave you feeling hungry at any point. The only annoying thing is that you won’t get to eat much junk food, but why would you want to when you can enjoy having a chiseled six pack?
Is it necessary to take supplements?
There is NO magic pill that will give you a six pack without hard work. Stay far away from machines, pills, creams or bizarre potions that promise you fast results without hard work. Not only do they promote false hope, they are a waste of your time and money and can even be bad for your health.
Although there are quality supplements that will support your workouts, it is more important to establish a basic workout regime and follow a good diet before worrying about what supplements to take.
Some recommended supplements include multivitamins, fish oil, protein powder, glutamine, BCAA pills or powder and creatine. Learn more about these supplements here. Be cautious of professionals who try to sell you products you do not need. Always do your research and make sure a product is credible and safe before you decide to start using it.
It is important to note that no supplements will give you a six pack without working hard for it. They are simply a SUPPLEMENT to hard work. If you are not working hard, training regularly and following a good diet, no amount of supplements will ever build a six pack.
What if you are following all the rules and still don’t have a six pack?
Quite often, such a problem is nearly always a nutritional issue. You might be making poor food choices or eating too much to begin with. Focus on increasing your protein intake, remaining in a negative energy balance and limiting your junk intake to once a week. If you are really serious about getting shredded, you might want to consider cutting out alcohol completely until you reach your goals.
Sometimes your body can easily adapt to a training program which is why it is essential to keep your body guessing and varying your workouts. Another useful tactic is to incorporate fasted cardio and change your cardio method to reignite the fat burning process. Here are some more plateau breaking strategies.
My personal experience
I used to have unsightly belly fat and have been to hell and back (literally) to reach where I am today. I can finally say my abs are my favorite body part!
I am someone who has tried everything and I have learnt that nothing will ever give you better results than a proper diet and hardcore training. If you need any support from someone who has been there and done that, don’t hesitate to contact me!