10 Rules For Ripped Abs!
As a personal trainer, I'm constantly bombarded with questions about how to build six-pack abs. My clients want to know the best core exercises, what to eat, and how to train for best results.
To help you complete your own quest for a chiselled middle, I've gathered and answered my clients' top 10 questions into one supercharged six-pack article. Start shredding!
1 / Are Crunches the Best Way to Get Ripped Abs?
No. Crunches work your abs, but there are more effective core-centric exercises. A study from San Diego State University showed that the vertical chair knee raise, for example, stimulates up to 210 percent more abdominal activity than a regular crunch!
Core muscles are also an integral part of deadlifts and squats, both of which are more effective than crunches. They also burn more calories, giving you extra bang for each rep you perform.
2 / How Should I Train for Maximum Fat Loss?
Go hard and go heavy. High-intensity exercise has been shown to stimulate lipolytic hormones, including growth hormone and epinephrine, which promote greater post-exercise energy expenditure and fat burning.1 This after-burn effect is associated with a boost in metabolism, known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).
High-volume, whole-body resistance training significantly elevates resting energy expenditure up to 72 hours after exercise in both trained and untrained subjects.2,3 In fact, a study from the National Taiwan Normal University found that EPOC after training with heavier weights—75 percent of one rep max (1RM)—is higher than after training with lighter weights at 50 percent of 1RM.
Basically, the heavier and harder you train in the gym, the more you burn when you're done lifting.
3 / Why is Stomach Fat So Hard to Lose?
Everyone's different, but the stomach is generally the body's favorite place to store and hold fat—even on a strict diet and fitness plan. When I was competing in bodybuilding, my lower abs were the last to appear before a show. Hormonal changes that result from lack of proper sleep, stress, and aging add more fat to your waistline.
Unfortunately, there's no such thing as a quick fix—it's all about proper nutrition, consistent exercise, and overall caloric expenditure.
4 / How Long Will it Take to Get a Six-pack?
This is probably the most common question we hear from our clients at CircuitFIT. There's no sure-fire answer because so many factors are involved, including your current body fat, your fitness level, your exercise routine, your diet, stress, and your sleep duration and quality.
Regardless, you won't build a six-pack overnight. You have to put in real work and give it time. Get a fitness and nutrition plan together and follow it consistently for at least 12 weeks before you expect to see noticeable results.
5 / What Should I Eat in Order to Get Ripped Abs?
Fewer carbohydrates and more protein! Stick to nutritious carbs like whole grains and vegetables, and make sure each meal or snack contains a lean protein source like chicken, fish, or non-fat Greek yogurt. Don't be afraid of fat, however. Include good fats from fish, fish oil, nuts, olives and avocados in your diet.
I personally have 3-4 whole-food meals and 1-2 protein shakes per day. I have my shakes pre- and post-workout on training days. It's all about choosing whole fruits and vegetables, and nutrient-dense, complex carbs. My diet includes whole eggs, yams, Greek yogurt, fish, chicken, beef, nuts, olive oil, almond butter, fruits, vegetables, quinoa, and other nutritious grains.
6 / Can I Get Ripped by Taking a Supplement?
Remember that supplements need to supplement something. If you want to get ripped and build muscle, you have to get off your butt and do the work! I always recommend that my clients have a solid training and nutrition regimen in place before they add supplements to their programs. When you're ready to add a fat-burning product, choose one with ingredients backed by published studies.
7 / Will I Be Able to Maintain My Results Once I Stop Using a Fat Burner?
Of course! As long as you continue to train hard and follow a solid nutrition plan, you'll maintain your results sans supplements. Most people eat super clean and train harder than ever while taking supplements, but go back to their old, lazy ways once they stop. This leads to the dreaded "yo-yo syndrome," which destroys hard-earned results. Consistency is the key.
8 / Is it Easier for Men or Women to Get Ripped Abs?
In general, men can achieve six-pack status easier than women because they produce more testosterone, allowing them to build more muscle mass and burn more calories while exercising and resting.
Women have a harder time because of their hormonal and muscular makeup, which is one of the main reasons we emphasize compound—or functional—lifts with our female clients.
That said, the older we get, the harder it becomes for both sexes to get a six-pack. Our hormone levels naturally decline. However, research shows that strength training can increase lean muscle tissue and strength, which helps us stay ripped.
Pumping iron is the key. Proper nutrition and supplements can also help naturally raise key muscle-building and fat-burning hormones.
9 / What if You Don't Want the Six-pack, but Just a Flat Stomach?
Wait, who doesn't want a six-pack? OK, even if you just want a flat stomach, I recommend you train your abs from all angles 3-5 times per week to build a strong core that not only looks good but also helps you perform better and stay injury-free. Check out my favorite abs exercises.
10 / What Are the Biggest Mistakes People Make When it Comes to Getting Flat Abs?
Ninety-nine percent of the time, when clients aren't achieving desired results, they're consuming too many calories, making bad food choices, or both. You can avoid this by tracking your progress. In addition to writing down reps and sets, keep a food journal. Documenting your daily progress is extremely valuable because it allows you to look back, review, and tweak your plan.
Everyone responds differently, so to determine what works best, get to know your body and listen to its feedback.
- Irving, B.A., & Davis, C.K., et al. (2008). Effect of Exercise Training Intensity on Abdominal Visceral Fat and Body Composition. Med Sci Sports Exerc, Oct 8.
- Schuenke M.D., & Mikat R.P., et al. (2002). Effect of an acute period of resistance exercise on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. Eur J Appl Physiol, 86(5):411-7.
- Hackney K.J. & Engels H.J., et al. (2008). Resting energy expenditure and delayed-onset muscle soreness after full-body resistance training with an eccentric concentration. J Strength Cond Res, Sep;22(5):1602-9.
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Great article. I must admit though, it aint easy gaining mass while trying to maintain a 6 pack or am I doing something wrong? Articles on here outlining that in order to gain mass you need to hit the calories (clean) but that also comes at a price. I guess it's a matter of whether you want to grow quick and then cut, or grow slow while staying cut. 6 of one half a dozen of the other perhaps as in running a 12 week cycle on either program you'll end up at the same place? Great article none the less. Thanks for sharing!
I feel ya man...I'm an ecto and I have been bulking up since March. I've put on 9lbs so far but I do not have six pack abs at 10% body fat...if I tighten my abs you can see the outline of them but I do have a little bit of of stomach fat. I'm being patient with it. My goal right now is adding mass to my frame. Once I have gotten to a point I am happy with I am going to work to cut down that belly fat. Maybe make your macronutrients 40-40-20. Good luck!
are you guys talking about being bloated? I used to think that my 6 pack was gone but realized it was just my terrible dosing of creatine.
I dont think you can seriously expect to grow while cutting, to cut Body fat you need to be on a calorie defacit, to build muscle you need to allow muscle protein synthesis to occur, and for that to happen you need an abundance of Leucine which in turn is energy dependent. So we have to choose, do we wanna grow or do we wanna cut, i here so many people saying they wanna gain some muscle and lose fat, but in my opinion being on a calorie defacit is catabolic, sure there are things we can do to limit the effects of this catobolism, like lifting with heavy weights, ensuring maximum rest, consuming as much food as possible while still creating a energy defacit, but all in all we are gonna lose some muscle mass. So i would suggest to anyone, eat to grow and try not to get too hung up on losing some condition, when your body is growing well and your metabolism is being fuelled by a good amount of calories made up of proteins carbs and fats then when you decide to cut, the foundation is already there, you should be consuming enough calories in the off season to allow you somewhere to back off to during the "diet". The whole issue of eating clean is vey missunderstood too, you can eat as clean as you like but eating more calories than your body burns will result in fat gain! Just my personal experience and opinion for what its worth guys, hope it helps :)
Thanks for the responses guys. Great info here, and thank you @justin999 - appreciate the guided response.
I agree with justin999. If you want to grow, you have to eat more. I would just recommend adding in calories over time and upping serving sizes as you go, don't throw too many calories in at once. Your body can only produce so much muscle at once naturally, and if you continually give it more than it can use, it will just get stored as fat. When I am concerned about gaining mass, I just keep an eye on myself in the mirror. If after a couple of weeks at my new calorie level I look fat, well I probably am, so I cut some calories out. I try not to weigh myself too often because then I become over concerned with the numbers and usually end up taking in too man calories too soon.
Lee Hayward advocates a 2:1 clean bulk: Two weeks of bulking diet, one week of cutting diet. In 2014 I want to give it a try, once I burn off some more of this fat so I can better assess if his method works for me.
Why? Because the article wasn't tailored to you? The fact is, most people eat too many carbs and would benefit from cutting those and increasing protein. If you've got your diet figured out then you can skip that part.
I thought the same thing Stummi386 right when it said "Fewer carbohydrates and more protein!". But then it followed up with "Stick to nutritious carbs like whole grains and vegetables..." then I knew the article happen to be talking about cutting the processed "bad carbs" (which hinders and causes a negative effect on the body) and not all carbs in general. Good info overall by the article though...
those six pack abs are what i want!!! i currently follow the zone diet while counting calories and eat between 1600-2000 with crossfit every night (burning 400 cals) and a run in the morning (burnign 200 cals) underarmour waist band tells me what i burn***
my average macros/day are : fat:70 grams carbs: 170 grams and protein:168 grams
what should i tweak or focus more on? anyone please help :) !
drop your carb intake to between 130 and 140g per day. 1 g per pound of bodyweight may be slightly too much for you.
Well the question should be are you loosing fat. As long as the pounds are shedding you should eventually get there, but if you find your metabolism stabilizing to your diet just drop the carbs slightly and try that out for couple weeks. Hit the scale or look in the mirror to see if the adjustment to your macro worked. You seem to be killing it with your before and after though.
Fewer carbs =/= no carbs, and most people eat way too many carbohydrates so the message is still valuable for a majority of people. If you've already got your nutrition dialed in then you can skip that part. Seeing as you're currently at 13.5% bf, you might want to consider listening to the Alex.
although you are right in a sense, there are certain forms of carbohydrates who intake should b timed an or limited. fast digesting carbohydrates should be ingested early morning or postworkout only. post workout they raise insulin an thus help with protein synthesis. eating them at any other time could potentially lead to fat storage. fructose also bear mentioning. the body processes fructose differently from glucose. fructose can not b stored in muscles in the form of glycogen. It can only be stored in th liver, if liver glycogen stores are full then consuming fructose can also lead to fat storage.