How to Get Six Pack Abs – The Definitive Guide

It seems that virtually everyone wants six pack abs these days, yet very few people ever achieve them. So if you do manage to get a six pack, it sets you apart from most other people.

And although it will take a fair degree of determination, the approach required to do it is actually very simple. So in this article I’ll explain exactly how you can get six pack abs.

But first you need to realize that there are no quick fixes. You won’t get a six pack by simply doing an eight minute ab workout every day, or by using the latest gadget you saw on the shopping channel.

To get a six pack, you will need to do two things – build up your abdominal muscles, and burn off the fat that covers them.

1. Build Up Your Abdominal Muscles

Contrary to popular belief, the best way to build up your abdominal muscles is not to do hundreds of sit-ups or crunches every day. The main role of the abdominals is to brace the body, so doing exercises like deadlifts (especially sumo deadlifts), squats and military presses will build and strengthen your abs better than most things.

When you do these exercises, focus on contracting your abs really hard. If you’re not used to doing this, you may find you’ll be quite sore the next day.

It is, however, a good idea to do an isolation exercise or two at the end of your workout a couple of times per week, in order to bring your abs up even further. Some excellent choices for this include cable crunches, hanging leg raises, reverse crunches, ab wheel rollouts, planks and side planks. Just do a warm-up set or two, followed by two or three sets of 10–20 reps (30–60 second holds for planks).

If you can do more (or longer) than that, you’ll need to add more resistance, or do a more difficult version of the exercise.

2. Burn Off the Fat That Covers Them

You may have really well developed abdominal muscles, but if they are buried beneath a layer of fat, no-one will ever see them. So you need to burn off the fat that covers them, in order to reveal your six pack.

But as it’s impossible to spot reduce, you’ll need to reduce your overall body fat percentage in order to make that happen. And to do that will take two things – the right diet and some effective cardiovascular training.

The Right Diet

Eating the right diet is the most important factor here, especially when you are just starting out. You’ll need to eat at a calorie deficit, that is you need to consume fewer calories than you expend. But keep your protein intake high, and your carbohydrate intake relatively low. But don’t go too low, as you need carbs to fuel your workouts, as well as maintain a healthy metabolism, and keep your testosterone levels high. You also need to eat some healthy fats, and plenty of fruit and vegetables each day.

Eat mostly natural whole foods, and avoid processed, refined and sugary foods as much as possible. And don’t worry about the number of meals you eat per day. Three meals will work just as well as six, provided that your total calories and macronutrient proportions are the same.

Effective Cardiovascular Training

The leaner you get, the more important cardio becomes, and it’s essential when you are trying to get rid of those last few pounds, so you can make your abs really stand out.

But it needs to be effective cardio. And going out jogging for an hour every day is not very effective. Long duration, steady state cardio, like jogging, does not burn fat very efficiently, and if you do too much, it will waste away your muscle tissue too.

So, a much better way is to do a short high intensity cardio session two or three times per week instead. This is where you alternate brief periods of near maximum effort with periods of active recovery. A great example of this is sprint intervals, where you sprint for 15–20 seconds, and then walk, or jog slowly, for 45–60 seconds. This is then repeated 4–6 times – or more if you are particularly fit.

The big advantage of high intensity cardio is that it really revs up the metabolism, so you continue to burn fat well after your workout has finished – up to 24 hours after in fact. Sometimes even more.

But it’s important not to overdo it, as this type of training can be difficult to recover from, especially when you are on a calorie deficit.

Apart from that, the only other type of cardio I really recommend is walking. You can walk for 30–60 minutes, 5–7 days per week if you wish, as it’s quite easy to recover from. And because you can do it so frequently, it can have a significant impact on your fat loss efforts.

So that’s all you really need to know to get six pack abs. It’s simple, but it’s not easy. It will take effort, determination and willpower. But if you want to achieve it you most certainly can. Best of luck.

2 Replies to “How to Get Six Pack Abs – The Definitive Guide”

  1. “So do a short high intensity cardio session two or three times per week instead. A great example of this is sprint intervals. Here you simply sprint for 20 – 30 seconds and then walk for 30 – 60 seconds. And this is repeated 6 – 10 times.”

    Good point David. I actually attained 6 pack a while back during my final stint in university…the only problem is I killed my knees, in fact I whine about it over here:
    I worked my knees down until I had runner’s knee. To make the long story short, I ended up combining my cardio with my strength training with calisthenics. Using the Bar Bros Program, I finally attained the abs I’ve been wanting without all the pain of running tons.

    • You don’t seem to mention sprints in your article JM, just running in general. And I’d be surprised if a few 30 second sprints a couple of times per week would affect your knees much. I had all sorts of problems when I was doing distance running though (a long time ago now). The constant pounding wreaks havoc on you in all sorts of ways. However there’s nothing at all wrong with combining your cardio with strength training and I give some methods of doing this in my article on high intensity cardio (though granted these examples are intended as ‘finishers’ really). Thanks for stopping by.

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