Strengthen your abdominal core muscles and lose your body fat. The concept may sound simple, but putting it into action can be quite challenging.
It will take dedication, time and patience to get a six pack; but in the end, the effort is well worth it. To get six pack abs you need to do two things: lose and build muscle . You get this by dieting and exercising daily. You can have the most toned and muscular abs, but it will not show if there is a layer of fat over them. This article will discuss ways in which you can accomplish both of these goals.
Steps – Lose Fat
- Do cardio workouts. Important step to get six pack abs: There is no way to target fat loss in any area of your body. You need to lose some of that extra fat over your abs. Even if you work out and get gigantic ab muscles, if there is still a layer of fat over them no one will ever get to see them. Cardio workouts are workouts that raise your heart rate for a given set of time. Some examples would be running, jogging, bike riding, dancing and rowing.
- Eat smaller dinners. Large dinners tend to hurt a fat loss process because most people aren’t very active after dinner. This is the basis for advice along the lines of “don’t eat anything within a certain number of hours before going to bed”. The claim that your entire dinner is stored as fat isn’t entirely true. The process is more complicated than that, but the fact you don’t move after dinner is enough to hurt your cause. You can offset this by eating a larger lunch or snacking healthily before dinner. Fresh fruits or vegetables are excellent choices for curbing appetite not to mention other health benefits. A handful of nuts might do the same. Drink a large glass of water before sitting at the table.
- Eat breakfast. Many people skip breakfast because they don’t have time for it. The harm of skipping breakfast from a weight loss perspective is it makes you eat a huge lunch since your body hasn’t had anything in the past 12 (or more) hours. When you eat a huge lunch you get that after meal drowsiness so now you’re both unproductive and inactive. Cereals don’t take much time to prepare and consume, and most of them are very healthy nowadays. If you are extremely pressed for time, consider grabbing a box of breakfast bars or a smoothie and throwing one in your bag when you leave for work or school. Some breakfast out there are also excellent sources of fiber. Even an apple or a yogurt is better than nothing. Ideally, your breakfast should be the biggest meal of the day, lunch the second, and dinner the smallest.
- Lift weights. The more muscle your body has, the more calories your body burns, even at rest. Plus, resistance training is important to limit the amount of muscle mass lost whilst reducing your calorie intake. If you only do cardiovascular exercises (running, playing basketball, football) without weight training then you may lose the muscle mass, including the muscle in your abs.
- Keep metabolism steady. Eating one small meal every three hours that you are awake will not speed up your metabolism, rather, it will keep it going. Your metabolism goes and slows with your food intake and eating something small every three hours will keep that metabolism burning calories and will help you lose weight. Every meal should include lean protein, so that your body won’t need to break down your muscles for fuel, which would shrink your abs as well as slow down your metabolism.
- Drink more water every day. To find out how much water you need to drink as a minimum per day, half your weight (in pounds) and that is how many ounces of water you need to drink. So a 150 lbs person would need to drink a minimum of 2.2 liters a day. It sounds like an absurd amount of water, but you get water from the food you eat, and you can drink teas and pure fruit juices to make up some of the quota. Drinking too much water (several liters, especially while sweating) can dangerously dilute certain salts and minerals. If you are exercising heavily and sweating a lot, you will need to replace your salts as well as fluids. Supplement your water drinking with a sports drink or potassium rich fruits such as bananas and apples.
- Switch out refined grains for whole grains. In a scientific study, people who ate all whole grains (in addition to five servings of fruits and vegetables, three servings of low-fat dairy, and two servings of lean meat, fish, or poultry) lost more belly fat than another group that ate the same diet, but with all refined grains. A diet rich in whole grains changes the glucose and insulin response in your body, which hastens the melting of fat, and visceral fat, that deep layer of fat, is easier for your body to burn than the subcutaneous fat under your skin (the fat that you can see and grab).
- Do crunches. Lie on the floor (with or without a mat) with your arms in front of your chest or with your hands lightly touching your temples (never behind your head). Bend your knees. Raise your shoulders (upper torso) towards your knees, using strictly your abdominal muscles. It is very important to not lift your entire back off the floor, as this can cause back strain, and the extended movement does not help you develop six pack abs any faster. The most important part of the crunch is the initial flexing of your abs as you lift your shoulders off the floor. As soon as you begin lifting off the floor exhale through your mouth, ending with a gasp once your shoulders are off the floor. Then pause for a second once you are at the top of the crunch and exhale the last bit of air from your diaphragm while flexing your abs. Now lower back down slowly and controlled while inhaling through your nose, just until your shoulder blades touch the ground. Do not let your head touch the ground.
- Do sit ups. Lie on the floor, feet on the floor, knees up and hands crossed on your chest. Have someone hold your feet down, or wedge them underneath something heavy. Sit all the way up, lifting your lower back off the floor along with your shoulder blades. Keep your back straight (no hunching). Lower yourself down. Repeat. Once this becomes relatively easy for you (i.e. you can do a quite a bit with ease) start adding more challenges. Find an incline bench. Do weighted sit ups. Hold a weight on your chest while you do these. As these become easier, hold heavier and heavier weights.
- Train your entire core. To build really great abs it’s important to first understand what abs do. Their full name is ‘rectus abdominis’. The ‘rectus’ bit, is Latin for ‘straight, proper, upright’. Contrary to popular opinion, the abs’ primary job is not to curl you up into a ball, but they work together with the back muscles to maintain correct posture and stabilize the spine. These muscles are not just for show! So the best exercises for abs are ones that force your entire core to go into overdrive to support your spine. Some exercises that do this are squats and deadlifts. These exercises will train your entire core to work together to do what it is designed to do. At the same time they will also train a lot of other muscles (e.g. gluteus and quads).
- Do leg lifts. Lie on the floor, legs straight out, hands at your sides. Lift your legs straight up (not bending your knees at all) until they’re at a 90 degree angle (or close). Lower your legs and repeat without letting your legs touch the floor. For more challenge there is equipment at most gyms that will allow you to raise yourself up using your arms as support and dangle your legs. If you’re using this piece of equipment, you can make it easier by just raising your knees to your chest. It’s more difficult to raise your legs to a horizontal position with your legs straight. This helps firm up the lower abdomen. If you’re truly a monster, try doing leg lifts with a medicine ball hanging from your feet. Or, hang from a pull up bar and raise your legs in front of you all the way up to the bar.
- Do jack knife sit ups. Lie down flat on the floor. Place your hands on the ground to your sides for balance; you can pick them up as you get used to the movement. Simultaneously raise your knees and torso so that your knees and face meet on an imaginary line extending from your pelvis to the ceiling. You should be able to kiss your knees at the top of the motion. Your legs will naturally fold bringing your feet towards your hips, much like a jackknife. Lie back down (i.e. “spread out”) and repeat. Don’t let momentum bring you down; slowly put your hands and feet back on the ground. Place a weight between your feet when you think you can handle it.
- Do static holds. Put your body into the push-up position but with your elbows on the floor, and your whole body flat. This position is known as the static hold position, or the plank, and it trains your core (including your abs) to hold the body in place which is the real purpose of your abs. Hold this position for as long as possible. Beginners should be aiming to start off with at least 45 seconds, while seasoned ab workers are known to achieve over 5 minute static holds. To perform the side static hold, roll onto one side of your body and lift into the same position as before, but this time only one arm will be on the ground with the other arm pointed straight up the air and your non weight bearing leg resting on your bottom leg. Once again, hold this for as long as possible.
- Train your oblique muscles. It’s not as important to work on your oblique muscles at first, but eventually you’ll want to start working these too. These are the muscles to either side of your stomach. There are multiple ways to do this and anything that includes twisting your torso against a resistance counts. There are twisting machines at gyms, you can twist while you do sit-ups, you can do side bends, you can twist side to side with a medicine ball in hand, etc. Be aware though, that many beginners tend to have weak obliques compared to their abs (it simply isn’t used as much in daily life) so go easy on the sides at first
- Do bicycle crunches. Lift your feet off the ground while doing the crunches by alternating each leg in the air. Bring your left knee up toward your right shoulder and then your right knee toward your left shoulder.
- Do pull-ups hanging from a horizontal bar. You will be amazed at the number of muscles around your stomach working with pull-ups. Do 5 pull-ups with your palms facing away from you and 5 pull-ups with your palms facing towards you. This will also build your pectorals and biceps at the same time.
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