A lot of people ask how they can get rid of their spare tire, love handles, muffin top – you get the point. As much as we all wish there was one easy answer, the secret to achieving flat or six-pack abs is much more complex than doing sit-ups or crunches. The reality is that it is a culmination of genetics, a proper workout regimen, and most importantly, diet. To reach this goal, one must commit to the ‘six-pack lifestyle’.
Recipe for Success
Believe it or not, working your abs is not the number one way to achieve a six-pack. Because humans tend to store body fat in the midsection, the true secret lies behind lowering your body fat percentage. This requires a balance of three major things:
In order to understand the principle behind achieving flat abs, we must debunk some common training myths:
- Spot training – how many times have you wanted to improve a particular area of your body, and therefore dove into an intense workout regime to target that area? Well, the truth is that although you can see improvements in strength and size in those muscles, this does not mean you are getting rid of the existing fat.
- Enough with the crunches – creating rock solid abs is not accomplished through constant bouts of sit-ups and crunches. Contrary to traditional beliefs, this is achieved by working all major muscle groups in the core using various modalities.
- No more marathon cardio sessions – we often go all out during cardio sessions so we can see the ‘calories burned’ counter get as high as possible; however, what energy source are you using? Utilization of fat (thus helping create flat abs) is best achieved during bouts of moderate level cardio. Ensure you keep your heart rate in the appropriate zone.
- Don’t avoid weights – resistance training is essential to building and maintaining lean body mass. Many individuals, especially women, may avoid strength training at the risk of getting big. Follow a plan that involves working major muscle groups with the proper amount of sets, reps, weight, and rest. You may be surprised at the results.
Food for Thought
We often associate the word diet with losing weight, cutting calories, etc.; however, following a proper diet, or better yet nutrition plan, is essential to any fitness goal including weight loss or weight gain. So how important is diet when it comes to achieving abs? Extremely!
Let’s break down some nutrition basics to help you shed body fat:
- Shop the perimeter – stay away from refined and/or processed foods. Grocery stores often keep whole foods such as fruits/vegetables, lean meats, and dairy around the outside aisles. Stick to these, and you can’t go wrong.
- Find a balance – do not cut carbs, or any other energy source for that matter. Eating the right foods at the right time will ensure your body stays energized and utilizes fat at optimum levels.
- GI index – ever heard of the GI index? If not, do yourself a favour and read up on it. This will significantly affect storage of fat throughout the body.
- Get enough protein – while dieting, we must maintain precious lean body tissue by consuming protein every 2-3 hours. Proper nutrition can provide adequate protein intake without having to supplement.
- Pre/post workout meals – next to breakfast, these may be the most important of the day. They will dictate what energy sources you use during your workout and how effectively your muscles will recover. Don’t work out on an empty stomach thinking you will use fat reserves as energy. You won’t.
- Don’t get frustrated – get educated. Achieving six-pack abs requires a balance between cardio, resistance workouts, and nutrition. It is a lifelong commitment, not a sprint to the finish. Be prepared to dedicate yourself to the ‘six-pack lifestyle’, or maybe it’s time to re-visit your health and fitness goals.