Getting great looking abs
With the return of springtime warm weather, thoughts of the approaching summer, and the many wonderful outdoor activities that weíll often associate with it are among our top favorite summertime activities, especially a trip to the beach.
Warm blue skies, refreshing ocean breezes, hot sand, cool waves and the many attempts at building the perfect sand castle - you'll think youíre almost there just by thinking about it.
But that mental image just wouldnít be complete without also including images of hard, bronze bodies with "sixpack abs" in swimsuits soaking up the sun's rays.
Letís face it, great physiques will always be a top attraction, and the abs are the first thing that everyone notices. But showing off six-pack abs certainly donít come easy. Successful abdominal training is a combination of a healthy, lean diet, consistent cardio work, and a thorough abdominal training plan.
While all of that may sound difficult, it is certainly within your ability to get the six-pack abs that others will positively ogle at, and you certainly still have enough time to do it! This article will provide you with the steps youíll need to take to help you get those great abs:
While there are other factors that could consider for your ab training, consistently eating a lean diet, performing cardio routines, and exercising your abs with sufficient intensity will always remain at its core.
- Diet - The first thing you'll need to change is your diet. It goes without saying that even if you had the best abs in the world, they will still look pretty ordinary if a layer of body fat covers them.
Diet plays an important role in defining your abs, so a few modifications will be needed in order for your body to look its best.
For starters, get into the habit of keeping a diet log to track your meals. You'll be less likely to cheat when you know you have to write down everything youíve eaten each day. An elaborate journal isnít necessary though. A regular notepad works just fine.
Also, switch to six small meals a day instead of three larger ones. This will help rev up your metabolism and prevent the stretching of your stomach and the abdominal walls which occurs when you gorge with food.
Next, begin creating a small caloric deficit each and every day to help burn away fat. It is recommended that you try to lose just a pound or two of fat per week. The weekly loss of more than that, for the average person, usually includes substantial amounts of water weight and muscle tissue that can wreck havoc on your metabolism.
Keep in mind that itís the layer of fat thatís covering your abs that youíll want to lose. A good rule of thumb is to cut back your daily energy requirements by only around 500 calories per day.
If you aren't sure what your daily energy requirements are for your current bodyweight, you can use this easy-to-remember formula as a guide.
To estimate your daily total caloric needs, multiply 24 times 1.0 (if youíre a man) or 0.9 (if youíre a woman) by each kilogram of bodyweight you weigh. Then multiply that result by 1.7 (for a moderately active man) or 1.6 (for a moderately active woman).
(Men) 1.7 x 24 x 1.0 x bodyweight (in kg)
(Women) 1.6 x 24 x 0.9 x bodyweight (in kg)
In order to determine how many kilograms you weigh, divide your bodyweight (in pounds) by 2.2. But be aware that this formula is only a guide.
It is recommended that you use the formula as a starting point, and then pay close attention to your body in order to fine-tune your caloric intake according to how your body responds to your weight loss efforts.
Examine your body in a mirror. If it doesnít appear as if you're losing any weight after a week or two, then lower the amount of calories you take in even more.
- Cardio - Next, youíll need to begin including cardio (aerobic exercises) into your weekly exercise routine. There are very few short-term options that can use to burn calories and strip away the fat better than sessions of aerobic activities.
It's no coincidence that even world-class bodybuilders steadily increase their cardio workouts as a contest approaches to help really bring out their muscle definition.
Start by working out three to four times a week for 20 to 30 minutes at a time on a treadmill or a stationary exercise bike, then work your way up to even more intense sessions of at least moderate intensity for 45 minutes or longer by weeks three and four. The last few weeks before you head to the beach, youíll want to include interval training into your routine to really help remove the last few pounds of fat.
- Exercise - Spot-reducing your way to six-pack abs is impossible. You simply cannot localize fat loss over any one specific area of your body, and this is the reason why it's important for you to watch your diet and include aerobic training if you truly desire to showcase some six-pack abs.
But the inclusion of solid abdominal training is very important for getting great abs. Strengthening the abdominal wall will tone and help reduce, if not prevent, any unnecessary sagging of the stomach area. Also, abdominal workouts will surely develop the ab muscles (especially the rectus abdominus and the external obliques) and enable them to easily become more visible, sharper, and tight.
While there are hundreds of abdominal exercises that you can perform, it is very important that several considerations be kept in mind before performing any of them. First, it is highly recommended that you learn how to focus on feeling the contraction of your ab muscles when exercising and really squeeze the muscle at the top of any rep.
There are a lot of people out there who claim to perform several hundred sit-ups per day, but it is the quality that counts and not the quantity.
Become extremely efficient when performing your abdominal exercises and allow the muscle to do the work and don't use the mechanical involvement of other body parts, or even momentum to help swing the body in order to complete any repetitions.
Also, be sure to maintain continuous tension while performing your reps. Never let your body rest at the bottom of a movement. And be sure to breathe in during the relaxation phase of your movements and breathe out during the contraction phase.
Having now prepared yourself for getting six-pack abs, select three exercises to perform for your abs. Do two sets of 15 Ė 20 reps on each exercise, three times per week. And remember to focus on squeezing the muscle at the top of the movement and go in a slow, deliberate manner during each repetition.
Recommended abdominal exercises for beginners during their first week would be crunches, seated twists, and knee-ups or lying leg raises.
As the next few weeks progress and your over-all conditioning improves, you'll need to increase the intensity factor for your abs to really shine. Start by increasing the number of sets of each exercise from two to three, and then add extra, more advanced movements to allow for up to five exercises for your abs.
Recommended abdominal exercises during this period can include reverse crunches, crunches on an incline board, vertical leg raises, medicine-ball twists, and decline-bench twisting crunches.
You have literally hundreds of excellent abdominal exercises to choose from. During the final two weeks before going to the beach, start cutting back on the rest time between your sets and begin to include supersets of your exercises in which you complete one set of each exercise without stopping.
Put in the work on those three tenets of abdominal development and youíll be sure to possess six-pack abs that will look great in a bathing suit and really turn heads this summer!
About the author:
Nathan Boyd is the author of the highly rated ebook, "The Fitness Lifestyle" and the current Director of Pro Fitness of Texas. Nathan encourages everyone in their pursuit of becoming physically fit and maintaining it for a lifetime.
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