5 Ways to Get a Six-Pack, According to a Personal Trainer
If you're looking to transform your physique, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. First, everyone's fitness journey is different and there is no set time or perfect workout to give you the body of your dreams. It's critical to keep an open mind and work with your individual health needs. That being said, there are plenty of tactics and healthy habits that can help you reach your goals!
Working towards achieving six-pack abs can be a challenge, but if managed correctly, the results are clear cut. In her time training and advising, Amy Golby, a personal trainer and exercise nutritionist at MyProtein US, has gathered a few tips to get you started on the healthy track to a shredded core.
Here are her top five tips for how to get the six-pack abs you've always dreamed of! And for more, check out Secret Ways to Getting Flatter Abs Faster.
Know what to fuel your body with
Strong muscles require good food to grow them! A healthy, balanced diet is the most important part in molding dominant abs. Actually, it's "80% on diet, to be exact, with only 20% dependent on exercise," Golby says.
It's not just about eating healthy foods, it's also about eating enough of the right foods at the right times throughout the day when your body is in need. To continually boost your metabolism, you should be eating the right amount of calories in "6 small nutritious meals a day," Golby says.
Balancing the main food groups is a start, but it's best practice to prioritize high protein foods and then split the rest of your daily calories into a variety of carbohydrates and healthy fats. If you're more physically active throughout the week, you should be consuming protein every two to three hours a day. It's best to consume leaner proteins like chicken breast and fish, but Golby also says "it's essential to use whey protein supplement after training."
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Focus on all of your abdominal muscles
The abdominal muscles are quite complex and there is no one exercise that is going to get you a six-pack. The core is made up of a set of six areas of muscle—hence, the name six-pack—that all come together and also connect the lower and upper body parts. "Getting a six-pack means far more than simply looking shredded," Golby explains, and that means actively working each muscle group to create an overall powerful core.
When exercising the core, doing demanding exercises and overloading the muscles will create strength and stability in the center of the body. To be sure that you're strengthening the entirety of the core, it's helpful to prepare exercises that work any and all of the abdominal muscles that fall under these main categories: The transversus abdominal, external oblique, inter oblique, and rectus abdominis.
Some of the basic exercises that Golby suggests are crunches, planks, side planks, oblique crunches, reverse crunches, and crossover crunches. Continuously doing these core workouts will help build up your core muscles— and when combined with a good diet—can produce visible results. If these are already implemented in your workouts or you're looking for more challenging exercises, try jackknifes or even weighted Russian twists.
Sprinkle ab moves into your other workouts
For those who have set workout splits, like leg or arm days, it's recommended to throw in some ab exercises in-between working sets. Try to do a couple of planks or crunches instead of going on your phone or taking an extra-long rest. It's beneficial to continue strengthening the core because you're always using it—even when working out other sections of your body.
Just make sure to not try this during a workout in which you're using heavy weights or a strenuous session, Golby says, because it could "potentially weaken your core muscle, which could make injuries more likely."
Make sure you rest
Another thing to watch out for is overtraining your body, which can do more harm than good. After a muscle is worked to the max, it needs time to recover so that it can heal and eventually grow bigger.
When training your abs, there are "teeny tiny tears being made in your muscle fibers," Golby says. "To become more defined, these tears need to recover."
When the abdominal muscles can rest and rejuvenate, they will repair themselves and be able to handle more and more as they get stronger. So, instead of doing abs every day for long periods of time, Golby recommends doing abs up to three days a week (non-consecutively) or perhaps every other day.
When doing exercises for other muscles in the body, like squats or a chest press, you should always be engaging your core to continue to work those abdominal muscles. This will not only create great strength in your abs, but it will also help stabilize you in those compound exercises to better support the rest of the muscles in your body.
Aim for a calorie deficit
A common resource people use to organize their dietary eating is by staying in a calorie deficit for a certain period of time. Golby defines a calorie deficit as a lower calorie intake per day compared to what is required of a person's BMR (basal metabolic rate).
"If you are at a BMR of 2000 calories and you are only eating 1800 calories a day," then you essentially worked off 200 calories through a lower food intake, says Golby. By eating fewer calories, you are adjusting your body's metabolism when at rest. The lower calorie expectation allows the body to begin burning fat at a faster rate because there are fewer calories to burn.
While this is intentionally under-eating, it should not be confused with inadequately fueling your body with the foods and nutrients you need every day to survive. It can be extremely dangerous to stay in a calorie deficit for long periods of time. In fact, by being in a calorie deficit without any exercise, "you are greatly decreasing your body's natural metabolism, which means that over time, the weight loss is going to decrease as months go by," explains Golby.
So, even though you may be looking to go into a calorie deficit to lean out and get a six-pack, be sure that your calorie deficit is not detrimental to your necessary daily food intake. If you start to feel very tired throughout the day, you may not be eating enough and your body has started to use up all of its natural energy resources as a result.
For more, check out This One Diet Detail Is Absolutely "Essential" for Weight Loss.