Trying to get that much sought after 6 pack is possible one of the most common gym goals we hear off, yet it seems to be one of the most difficult ones to achieve. We've all probably got envious at some point of someone else's tones mid section, wether its a TV celebrity, someone in the gym, or just someone you've spotted on a beach.
So how do they do it? It's not easy, but I'm going to give you my top tips on how to chisel out that 6 pack, plus one of my favourite ab routines to include into your gym schedule.
Let's get one thing clear to start with. YOU WILL NOT GET ABS WITH A HIGH BODY FAT PERCENTAGE. You can do all the crunches you like, but if there's a layer of fat covering your abdominal muscle, you aren't going to see them! The first thing you need to realise is that 6 packs really are made in the kitchen. If you need to shed some excess fat I'd suggest taking a look at our nutrition page for some inspiration and tips on dropping some body fat, then come back to this article. Otherwise read on to discover my secrets to a killer set of abs!
1. TARGET DIFFERENT AREAS
Your overall core is made up of a variety of different muscle from your pelvic floor to your abdominals. They all play a big part in things like posture and other functions, but when it comes to the aesthetic side (looking good) I like to break my core sessions down to target 3 different areas. Upper abdominals, lower abdominals and the obliques.
Upper abdominals - these are emphasised when the lower body is stable and the upper body hinges upwards and curls from the hip.
Lower abdominals - the opposite of the upper abdominals, these are emphasised when your upper body is stable and your lower body (legs) hinge upwards.
Obliques - these muscle help you twist and rotating, and also bend to the side .
In order to get a nice rounded six pack and core, you need to target these three different areas, I'll explain how to do that in the exercise plan later in this article.
2. PROGRESS EVERY WORKOUT
We see so many people finish every gym session with something like 30 crunches, a one minute plank etc. EVERY SINGLE TIME THEY TRAIN THEIR CORE. This is great, but after a while your core muscles will simply get used to the stress being placed on them and won't develop - just like every other muscle in your body. You progress your squats, bench press and shoulder presses every session, why would you not do the same for your abs? Each session keep track of your core workout and make sure you progress it by adding more weight, more reps etc.
3. REPS AND SETS ARE IMPORTANT
Many people will argue over the best set and rep ranges for your core muscles. Your core is made up of primarily slow twitch muscle fibres, which means they respond better to endurance training, for this reason I find a set and rep range of 3 sets of 15-20 reps works best. Once you can do 320 reps, you need to add some weight in.
4. ROUND YOUR BACK
You'll probably never hear those words anywhere else on a fitness website or in a fitness article often. Especially when we know that exercise like deadlifts, squats and rows require a nice flat back. But when it comes to training your abs its a habit you need to temporarily unlearn. When people do exercise like crunches, we see them with a flat back and bending at the hips. This engages the hip flexors and doesn't allow your abdominals to fully contract. For certain exercises, rounding your back will help fully engaged 'crunch' the abdominals.
5. PAUSE AT THE PEAK PART OF THE EXERCISE
Holding the peak part of the contraction makes any exercise more challenging, by squeezing and holding the muscle at the end of its range of motion really cranks up the intensity. Imagine you were doing a bicep curl, you'd curl upwards and really squeeze the bicep for a second at the top of the movement before lowering. You can do the same with you core. Take cable crunches for example, instead of lowering the weight back up immediately, pause and squeeze your abs in for a second before the lowering part of the exercise.
6. Killer Core Workout
This workout requires minimal equipment, but is designed to hit the muscles we talked about above. You have 3 exercises which you need to perform as a tri-set - this means you need to do the 3 different exercises back to back without any rest. Once you've completed one try-set, take 90 seconds rest and repeat up to 4 times.
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