By Martin Ebner
Abs - I think it's fair to say that we can all agree that there is nothing that screams fit and sexy more than a finely sculpted midsection! Unfortunately for most, a 3am alcohol absorbing kebab addiction will keep them out of the public eye for the remainder of your lifetime.
Attaining a six-pack is NO easy task. It takes effort, sacrifice, motivation and hard work. If you lack these attributes, it's probably not for you. Forget about it and have another mince pie! The sad truth is that If you ever want to reveal what's hidden below the muffin top you must first rid yourself of visceral fat and work at lowering you body fat percentage significantly. Gents, unfortunately we have a tendency to store fat around the belly. This means we need to get down do around 10% body fat or less to show off the goods. Ladies, you're body fat percentage must remain a little higher, any less than 20% and you're putting yourself health at risk.
The phrase “Abs are built in the kitchen” could not be any closer to the truth. If you want to stand any chance of leaving others envious in your wake of abdominal godliness, you must first sort out your diet.
Unless you have an illness or condition that prevents you from losing weight, it's not a complicated math equation. To lose 1lb of body-weight per week, you must reduce your calorie intake by 500 per day. This means, ladies you must eat no more than 1500 calories a day. Gents, add 500 to that figure. This is the safest and most effective way to lose weight long term. It will prevent the body from restoring fat when you return to your normal diet.
If you're now thinking, 1500 calories isn't bad. I'll just eat 2 large bowls of pasta a day. WRONG! Abs are muscles too and if you want them to grow, it's important that you feed them properly with nutrient dense foods.
Food to include:
- Lean proteins
- Wholegrain products
- Fruits and Vegetables
- Nuts, seeds and legumes
- Healthy fats
Foods to avoid:
- Anything processed
- Anything with added sugar
- Fried food
- Saturated fat
- White flour (Pizza, pasta, bread)
- Sodas and fruit juices
No matter what you've heard, 400,000 crunches a day will more likely give you Tourettes than a six-pack. The best way to build up your abs a is by first, building a strong core. This means performing exercises that recruit as many muscles as possible. Squats, dead-lifts, lunges, hip thrusts, push ups, pull ups and standing exercises where possible give you more bang for your buck. You want to engage your core as often as possible.
Once you've spent some time working on the above exercises and perfecting your diet, it's time to focus more specifically on those abs.
Ab exercises - My top 5
- Planks (Every variation)
- Leg raises (Hanging)
- Conventional sit ups, Not crunches
- Cable pulley oblique twists
- Ab roll outs (With ab-roller)
Perform the above ab exercises 2-3 times a week for 8-12 weeks. The goal is to progress between 5% - 10% on a weekly basis. Like any muscle in the body, if you want it to grow, you must hit it hard. Work the muscles to failure or as close as your pain threshold will allow you. I personally find the most effective method one that requires added weight. Performing 200 Ab crunches is far less appealing than 20 weighted sit ups. It takes half the time and the results are significantly better too.
EXERCISE INSTRUCTIONS AND TIPS:
Start slowly. Once comfortable with the exercises, you can increase the weight and/or the number or repetitions.
Aim for 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions of each exercise.
Perform the exercises with perfect form. There's no point in rushing through the repetitions. 6 perfectly performed reps are better than 20 sloppy.