I’m writing this blog/article because the majority of the population are on the hunt for abs. I’m asked on a daily basis how to get them and some of the assumptions on how to get them are crazy; however, I don’t blame people for thinking that hundreds of sit ups are the answer, the fitness myths out there are numerous and constantly repeated in celebrity magazines or men lifestyle magazines.


What are abs?

I’d like to clear up what abs actually are. There are many parts to what we call the abs, the main ones we strive for are the rectus abdominals, the 6 pack (or 8 pack) that goes down the front of the bottom half of the torso. The primary purpose of these is flexion of the torso, bringing the chest to the hips or vice versa. However, there’s many other parts to the abs. The obliques are the finger like muscles that accompany the rec abs and their primary function are to stabilise and rotate the torso. Another vital part of the abs is the transversus abdominis (TVA). Think of these as a belt like muscle that the body must tighten to keep everything together, if these are weak, it doesn’t matter how good you’re abs look, you will function very poorly. (To activate you TVA, pull your belly button in towards your spine).


How do we get them?

So that’s a brief description of the abs and their primary functions, now, how to we get them? The misconception of abs is that hundreds of sit-ups will get abs. However, it would take 10’s of thousands of sit-ups to even make a difference as the amount of calories is takes to do a sit-up is minimal. What we need to do before we even think about training them consistently is get rid of the fat covering them. I personally see no purpose in an overweight individual doing sit-ups when they could be burning hundreds of calories underneath a barbell or doing some hardcore full body weighted metabolic circuits. This would give you a much greater reward than doing sit ups.

Without repeating myself too much, nutrition and exercise have to be key to get your abs, if these 2 aren’t taken care of then don’t even think about doing 1 sit up. I’m afraid to say that usually the first place we want the fat to go is the last place it will go and the first place that the fat will go back on. Think about emptying a skimming pool, the fat around your abs is the deep end and places like your face are the shallow end, hence when people go on a diet you see it first on their face. It is only after consistent persistence that you will start to notice the abs coming through after weeks of good nutrition and exercise.

What is good nutrition and exercise I hear you ask? Well, good nutrition to get a six pack would be to minimise sugar, I’m not saying this is essential however, if you are new to nutrition and eating healthily then this is a simple way to reduce some calories and allow your body to regulate hormones to burn that stubborn belly fat. Plenty of green leafy veg will keep you right as these types of vegetables are high in antioxidants and are packed full of essential nutrients. Next would be to change your fat intake.

Fats aren’t bad, your body utilises dietary fat to mobilise body fat so get some “good fats” in. These include coconut oil, avocado, flax seeds, almonds, fresh water salmon and mackerel, hemp oil. The list goes on however, my essential fat is omega 3, if you aren’t taking omega 3 or eating plenty of fresh water salmon then you are holding back your six pack progress. Omega 3 (especially high in DHA) has a host of health and fat burning benefits. Increase protein and moderate carbohydrate intake. Have a low/no carb breakfast like eggs or meat and nuts, the protein and fats in these combinations will give your body what it needs and also regulate energy levels. Carbohydrates are good in moderation, have most of them after your workout.


Training

Now, onto training. If you want abs, you have to lift heavy weights using full body movements, heavy squats (front sauats are even better) and deadlifts are amongst the best core exercises out there. Imagine putting 100kg on your back for a squat, doing a deep squat with your torso vertical, the amount of core strength needed for this is unbelievable (TVA engagement is high here so this will tighten those abs up).

These big movements also burn a lot of calories which will aid in ridding the body of unwanted body fat. Train with heavy weights and minimal rest 3-5 times per week. If you want to add in cardio, add in some high intensity interval work by sprinting for 20 seconds as hard as you can and rest 40 seconds. Repeat this 10-15 times as hard as you can and the results and metabolic output adaptation will be great.


Rest

After the training and nutrition is taken care of make sure you sleep. 7-9 hours is optimal for most people. If you don’t rest and recover, cortisol levels (stress hormone) are increased and this effects the body’s ability to burn fat. Limit stress and try to control this as much as possible, less is more at times so just take care of the hard work and relax as much as you can.

It’s not easy is it? Getting abs is a lifestyle and not a quick fix like so many fitness “professionals” claim. Fitness models who advertise “6 minute abs” do a lot more than 6 minutes, it’s a 24 hour lifestyle change. Eat healthily, in moderation, exercise intensely and recover and the 6 pack will be on it’s way.

Now when you have all these things in place you can think about supplementation of fat burning supplements. These are not essential but can definitely make a difference if everything else is firing on all cylinders. Products like SmartBurn and SmartCLA have a host of scientific fat burning benefits so these would help optimise a fat burning program.

I’ve rambled on a little bit here but I’m really just scraping the surface. Abs are a lifestyle, if you want to do hundreds of sit-ups wishing for abs then good luck, however, do what matters and you’ll be en route to those 6 pack abs.

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