So, you’re thinking about chasing that 6 pack abs? You and the rest of the world; however, what most people lack is guidance. Achieving that chiselled midsection is so shrouded in misconceptions and self doubt that many fail before they even start.
What You Should Know Before Working On Your 6 Pack Abs
Let’s pull back the veil on what’s actually involved in conquering the core.
Crunches are the road to a 6 pack abs, and a lot of them.
While this is not altogether false, it’s far from accurate. Yes, crunches technically work the rectus abdominus; however, performing dozens of these day in and day out alone will leave you frustrated and no closer to being in beach form.
Cardio. Many will suggest you run and run until shin splints have you cursing the whole endeavor. Again, not entirely off-based; therefore, keep this factor in mind when planning a program.
Cardio will play a role in the journey, but not as pivotal as many presume. Some may be happy to hear this, others not; however, whatever your training preference may be, you’ll find that, “everything in moderation” is a phrase to live by.
The final, and arguably most damaging misconception is: starving yourself. By no means should anyone subject themselves to drastic “crash dieting” or severe levels of restriction.
Intensive calorie restriction does many things to your body, but the most relevant effects in this case are: muscle wasting, and the slow death of your metabolism. So take a breath, and be grateful that 1,000 calorie diets are not a necessity for carving up your core.
2. The Facts
What comes next, is without dispute, the most important factor in achieving your fitness goals.
Nutrition. No matter how much you train, or how many supplements you throw back, nothing will replace a sound diet for progress. After all, 6 pack abs are made in the kitchen.
Now, here is where we stray from the ordinary. Most individuals involved in health and fitness will naturally suggest four to six small meals per day, while keeping protein intake high. This approach is by no means wrong, I followed it for a decade; however, it’s simply option one.
This small meal approach functions very well with the highly dedicated and those willing to grant the time for meal preparation and many, frequent meals. I made decent progress following this lifestyle, but after some time, I wondered if there was an option that lent itself to more flexibility.
3. A Promising Alternative
The approach I’ve currently adopted is known as intermittent fasting, or IF. Stripping away body fat has turned from torture to a breeze, while simultaneously allowing much more freedom of choice when it comes to meal time. Here is the protocol in short.
Intermittent fasting involves dividing your day into two distinct windows of time: the time when you are eating, and subsequently, the time you’re not eating.
The most common breakdown of one’s day is 16 hours of fasting, followed by an 8 hour eating window. “16 hours with no food!?” Yes, that sounds like some rare form of punishment. However, it’s much easier than you would think, considering you’ll be sleeping for 6 to 8 hours of that time period.
A substantial amount of research has been conducted on the benefits gained from being in a fasted state, and they are worthwhile to say the least. While fasted, your body upregulates human growth hormone from 1,300-2,000%, while optimizing the oxidation of stored body fat.
In other words, you turn your body into a fat burning machine, leading to better brain function and improved insulin sensitivity.
The truly enjoyable part arrives with the eating window, where you consume your daily calorie total in the allotted time. You guessed it, meals are much larger, allowing foods to be more calorie dense and varied.
Now, this isn’t a blank check to introduce slim jims and apple pie into your fat loss diet. However, the occasional beer or restaurant meal could be seamlessly factored in, granted simply don’t exceed your daily quota.
This lifestyle switch isn’t for everyone (yes it very much is a lifestyle), but there’s no harm in testing it. I would encourage those looking to sculpt a 6 pack abs to give intermittent fasting two weeks, and observe the fairly quick changes that follow.
4. The Other Side Of The Coin
A quick word on training for a low body fat. As stated above, the answer lies not only in cardio and crunches, but with the correct mix of both. Crunches alone won’t reveal abdominals anymore than cardio will improve your squat, so what is the right recipe for a 6 pack abs?
The basic lifts that have given way to success time and time again are: Squats, Bench Press, and Deadlifts. Stick to the basics, train hard (at least three days a week), and accompany those lifts with low intensity and high intensity cardio. Again, moderation is key.
Also, a word to the wise, give your ab training its own specific day of the week. That will allow you to focus these target muscles with full energy and intensity, instead of leaving them to the end of your other routines, struggling to finish up when your glycogen stores are already running on empty.
This protocol, performed in conjunction with whichever style of eating suits your life the best, will bring you success. Granted that you find your motivation, choose healthy foods, and train like it’s going out of style.
Here are some great workouts to sculpt your fabulous 6 pack abs:
This overview is a great start to success when forging a 6 pack abs. However, I encourage you to research the options mentioned and double down on what fits your life best. Most of all, enjoy it.
More tips on how to bulk up your abdominal muscles here:
This is a guest post written by Ivii Clement, a proud contributor to NutritionInspector. If you enjoy this article, make sure to share it on your social profiles. Stay fit!