Six Pack. Eight Pack. Ripped Abs. Shredded Midsection. Washboard Stomach.
However you want to describe it, there’s no doubt that a firm, tight midsection is something we would all love to have.
Great abs are one body part that both men and women not only desire to have themselves, but find attractive in the opposite sex. Possessing a toned, flat stomach tells people that you are fit, healthy and in peak condition.
Why Is A Toned And Tight Abdominal Area Such A Big Deal?
You can develop big arms, big chest or legs fairly easily. While these muscles might look good in clothes (as long as they aren’t over done) it’s quite common for people who have developed these muscles to have a soft pudgy belly under their t-shirt. It kind of ruins the image. Getting great abs requires a little more discipline.
Something that is often over looked when trying to “get” a six pack is that it actually has a lot more to do with nutrition than crunches. To define your abs (or any other muscle) you need to reduce the fat that surrounds it. I’m not talking about spot reduction (burning fat in one area) you need to decrease total body fat to have definition in your abs, or legs, back or where ever you are trying to define.
There are two key elements in achieving this:
1) Proper Nutrition -
You can exercise as much as you like, but if you are fueling your body with highly processed fast food and sugary treats which tend to contain a high amount of calories with very little nutritional value, then you will not burn enough fat. In fact you will be gaining fat and won’t have a visible abs.
2) Exercise -
To burn excess fat you also need exercise, not to burn the calories you just consumed but to build lean muscle. Lean muscle burns fat.
So it’s clear, to have visible abs we need to burn fat.
Cardio Is The Best Way To Burn Fat, Right?
The first thing that comes to mind when people want to lose weight or burn fat is generally cardio. Running, jogging, elliptical machine. There is nothing wrong with cardio, when used sparingly, but long cardio sessions will actually burn muscle along with fat. So while you may burn off some calories with cardio the muscle you lose means that your resting calorie burning ability has dropped too.
As I mentioned, lean muscle burns calories just to sustain itself. Even while you are sitting here reading this you are burning calories. So it would make sense to increase the amount of lean muscle you have. Ideally while burning fat. How do you do that?
Focus on full body workouts to build strength, coordination and correct body mechanics. This will target all your major muscle groups helping you to build lean muscle and burn more body fat.
You can also break workouts into specific body parts or movement patterns like upper body, lower body, core, push/pull movements, but you want to use exercises that will incorporate multiple muscles like push ups, pull ups, squats, planks and all their variations. This helps train the body as a unit, increasing function and overall strength.
You’ll be amazed at how much better your abs will look from full body strength routines and good nutrition.
To really change your body composition in a positive way (increase in muscle and decrease of body fat) your workouts need to be intense. You need to give the body a reason to build more lean muscle. Intensity is individual and will depend on your current strength and fitness levels. As long as it feels intense for you, you will get results.
More on intensity here.
Once you have built sufficient strength abdominal exercise like crunches and their variations can be added , but more as refining moves when you have lost the excess fat and developed the strength to perform them correctly so you can get the benefit from doing them.
So there you have it, to get great abs you need to build lean muscle and reduce body fat through a combination of full body strength training and healthy diet.
See A Great Example Of A Full Body Workout
I’ll have a new workout video for you in my next post with specific emphasis on the core while using your whole body. It’s gonna be a killer
Update: See the workout video here
Make sure to “like” the Facebook Page so you’ll know exactly when I post the video