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Kick Up Your Abs

Great looking abs in three simple steps

Wondering how to get a six-pack? Well, you're not alone. Lots of people want great-looking ab muscles. Why shouldn't they: 'perfect' abs, the result of a lean, well-sculpted midsection, are the ultimate sign of peak fitness and outstanding sex-appeal for both men and women!

The problem is that, for most of us, it's just not that easy to get a six-pack. Some people are born with naturally low body fat levels and great-looking, maintenance-free abdominal muscles. The rest of us have to work our butts off in order to achieve the same results.

The good news is that just about anyone who's willing to make the effort can get great abs -- often within just a few weeks (depending on your current body fat levels). In fact, if you're already working out, chances are that you've already got a six-pack. It's just covered with a layer of fat!

How to Get a Six Pack in 3 Simple Steps

Most people who have great-looking abs follow a proven 3-pronged attack that just about always works. It doesn't involve any silly ab gadgets or magic fat loss supplements. It's also not necessarily 'easy' but it is extremely effective. Here are the 3 steps:

1. Shed Body Fat

If you want great-looking abs you have to get most of the extra fat off of your body. It's as simple as that. You may have the strongest, most well sculpted ab muscles in the world. But if they are covered by a layer of blubber, no one will ever know.

In order to really 'see' your abs you'll need to get your overall body fat levels down to about 7-8% (for men) or 13-14% (for women).

The most effective - and fastest way - to shed body fat is to eat a very 'clean' diet, strength train at least 3 times per week, and perform some type of cardio at least 4 times per week.

A 'clean' diet is one based around lean proteins, vegetables, legumes, some whole grains, some fruits, a little healthy fat and LOTS of water. All refined sugar and fried foods should be completely avoided. Tom Venuto provides a great fat burning, muscle-building eating plan in his “Burn the Fat” ebook.

In terms of exercise for fat loss, here are the most important things to keep in mind:

  • Weight training workouts should be brief and intense (40 minutes or less)
  • Keep reps/set in the 8-15 range
  • Perform no more than 4 sets per body part and 15 sets total
  • Use basic, 'compound' movements (not 'isolation' exercises!) -- the best choices are squats, dead lifts, bench presses, pull-ups, barbell rows, dips, barbell curls, etc.
  • Effective fat-burning cardio is either short & intense (like interval training) or long and low-to-moderate intensity (like jogging)

2. Build strong abs

Here's a little secret: if you already work out with weights (especially if you perform full-body free-weight exercises like squats, dead lifts, pull-ups, power cleans, etc.) you probably have very good abdominal muscles! Most 'big' free-weight exercises require you to utilize 'stabilizer' muscles, many of which are in your lower back and abdominal region. In fact, many pro bodybuilders and fitness models do little or no ab-specific exercise because their abs do so much work just helping them lift heavy weights (or their own bodies) into the air.

But, since you want to learn how to get a six-pack fast, you should probably be performing a good amount of ab-specific exercise. Forget about useless movements that target upper abs, lower abs, inner abs, outer abs, etc. You really only need to do 3 movements to work your entire ab region:

  • Bicycle Maneuver
  • Reverse Crunch
  • The Plank (learn how to do these exercises)

Of course normal crunches are great too but the bicycle maneuver incorporates the basic crunch movement and recruits even more abdominal muscles. Many fitness experts agree that the above are the best ab exercises -- both for creating nice-looking abs and also for developing functional core body strength.

3. Bring out the detail

Once you get your body fat down and your ab strength up, now you just need to make your abs more 'visible.' Lots of people actually have a six-pack AND low body fat levels yet still don't have the typical 'washboard' stomach. Why? Because for very light-skinned people and people with lots of body hair, the details in their well defined ab muscles are just too hard to see.

How do you fix this? Two things: tanning and body hair removal. Think about it. Fitness models almost always have a great-looking abs. But they also almost always have great tans and little or no body hair. So, if you really want to learn how to get a six-pack, just use the pro's secrets:

  1. Use a high-quality self-tanning lotion
  2. Use a safe hair-removal product

The truth is that very few fitness pro's spend hours in dangerous tanning beds or suffer through the process of regularly shaving their bodies. They use the magic of science, which has provided us with some very good skin-care, self-tanning, and hair-removal products. By the way, if you have a problem with cellulite and/or stretch marks, you might also want to try a good cellulite and stretch mark reducer.

Special Note: How to Get a Six Pack the Wrong Way

If you use any of the following methods in an effort to get better-looking abs you'll be very disappointed with your results - and you may even hurt yourself:

  • Extreme dieting (especially ultra low calorie diets that last more than a day or two)
  • 'Electro-stim' ab belts: these just don't work.....ever!
  • High-volume ab training: doing 30 sets of crunches per day will not help you get a six-pack any faster
  • Article Reviewed: June 29, 2012
    Copyright © 2014 Healthy Magazine
    ABOUT THE AUTHOR
    Lora Erickson

    Blonde Runner Health LLC is committed to promoting healthy lifestyles through custom coaching, personal training, community health classes, group runs, nutrition education and group triathlon team training (men & women). Other services offered are corrective exercise, running form analysis, race planning & consultation.
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