How to Achieve Flat Six Pack Abs
In many cultures and societies flat six-pack abs were and still are symbols of physical power, strength, and stamina both for women and men. Men want flat and ripped abs and women mostly 'just' toned abs with two vertical lines emphasizing midsection curves. And jet, when you go to the beach, how many such individuals with ripped abs can you see? And more important question - are you one of them?
Updated: July 10, 2021.
If you regularly work out, sooner or later when someone wants to know how strong you are, you will probably have to answer how much can you bench press. When you wear a T-shirt, you are probably going to be asked the size of your arms. But when you go to the beach and you take your shirt off and show flat and ripped midsection with your six or even eight pack abs, expect silence. And jealousy.
Flat midsection with visible muscles are a sign of strength, power, dominance. Lots of trainees are trying to achieve visible abs and toned entire body, but they fail no matter how often they train and no matter how low their calorie intake is.
Problem is the 'big picture'. First of all, there is no so-called 'spot reduction' - if you do a hundred of crunches, it will not burn off fat from your abs. Not to mention that there are much better exercises for abs than crunches. Second, to get a toned body and flat, visible abs, you have to lower your body fat percentage (bf%) - men under 10% bf, women 12-14% bf.
To lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you eat. Here I emphasize word 'weight', because many trainees don't realize that weight is everything - fat, muscles, water, gut content.
To have visible abs and muscles, you have to have them. Simple, right? Well, problem is that human bodies are made for survival and if you lower your calories below maintenance level, body will compensate by losing 'unneeded' muscles and preserving fat and fat cells for even worse days - just opposite what we want. That is why a combination of proper nutrition and workouts is so important in order for the body to lose fats, not 'just' weight.
Abs are muscles just like other muscles in the body and should be trained directly once, perhaps twice per week. This will give them enough time to recover from workout to workout. Also, they participate in many other exercises, so don't over-train them!
Cardio sessions can be done in the morning, right after waking up, on empty stomach using a home treadmill. These exercises are excellent for burning some extra fats, but should not last longer than 30-40 minutes and should be low to medium intensity. Cardio sessions during the day can be of various intensities and volumes and varying them is even recommended. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) can be especially effective in burning calories and increasing strength and stamina.
If you intend to have cardio workout and weights workout in the same day, separate them by at least 6-7 hours. This will hopefully give enough time for the body to recover.
To lose fats, you have to eat 6-8 small meals every day, as a part of your daily nutrition plan and those meals must have fewer calories than your body burns every day. With all those meals, we are sending signal to the body that there is 'plenty' of food available and that there is no reason to keep fat for 'rainy days'. Also, when we workout, we are sending signals to the body that we need all those muscles and by varying volume and intensity of workouts, those muscles can even grow in size and strength.
All calories are not the same. Although it depends on body type, weight, age, physical activity etc, generally we need at least 2g of protein per 1 kg of body weight and at least 0.5g of good fats per 1 kg of body weight. Fats are exceptionally important for healthy and elastic skin, nails, hair and they participate in many processes in the body. Best sources of healthy fats are fatty fish, whole omega-3 eggs, various nuts and similar foods.
Carbohydrates are basically fuel for the body and by varying their amounts we can tweak daily calorie intake. Note that not all carb are equal - complex carbs found in whole grain bread and pasta, brow rice and similar foods are source of constant energy, while simple carbs (sugars and similar) are short lived energy sources that can make insulin spikes and unfortunately, crashes!
Drinking enough water is important for good hydration and normal functioning of the body. If your pee is (darker) yellow, you are not drinking enough water. Water also helps the body to get rid of toxins through kidneys and the more water you drink, less toxin's concentrations flow through the kidneys which protect them.
Fibers are very important for the health of digestive system and for feeling satiated after the meal. Fibers come from fruits, vegetables, grains and similar foods, but there are also number of sport fiber supplements. I don't know about You, but instead of the fiber pill or powder, I prefer nice bowl or salad or cooked vegetables as part of my meals :)
Vitamins and minerals can be found in various foods and sport supplements. Taking a multivitamin and multimineral tablets/pills during the diet, can help reach required daily vitamin and mineral levels. Although I am not big 'fan' of supplements, if you are on a diet, taking some vitamins, minerals and omega-3, can be beneficial. Before taking any supplement, consult your doctor, just to be sure.
Also, body needs more energy to digest proteins than carbs. However, some vegetables almost have 'negative energy' in regard to useful energy that body can use after their digestion - celery, lettuce and many other salads and green vegetables.
Want flat six pack abs and ripped body? Eat properly, workout regularly and sleep enough - that is 'the big picture'.