“The bottom line is that there is no “secret” to six-pack abs. Instead, it takes into account many fitness components that aim for a lean and fit physique. These components are no secret — balanced diet that promotes a speedy metabolism, cardiovascular activity for fat loss, strength training to increase your muscle to fat ratio and raise your resting metabolic rate and a variety of abdominal exercises to strengthen your entire core.”
By Kelly Gonzalez As a personal trainer, I receive many fitness questions. One of the most common inquiries is, “How do I get six-pack abs?”
The abdominal muscles: It’s an area that exercisers focus on the most, but see the least results, and this can be frustrating and discouraging.
When asked the infamous ab question, I like to ask the person what they are currently doing to achieve their goal of a ripped mid-section. Often times, they tell me they do a ton of sit-ups everyday, but still have no results. Surprised? Don’t be. Sit-ups and crunches alone will not lead to your desired results. Your rectus abdominis is your “six pack” muscle, but to truly train your core to become more functional, whittle your waist-line, and have optimal definition, you must also work your internal and external obliques (your sides) and the transversus abdominis (the deep abdominal muscle that helps support your spine). Therefore, a variety of abdominal exercises are necessary.
The basic crunch mainly targets the upper portion of your rectus abdominis. To do this, lie on the ground with both knees bent at a 90 degree angle, lift your shoulders off the ground about 2 to 4 inches, lift for 2 seconds, squeeze at the top of the contraction and lower down slowly for 4 seconds, keeping continuous tension in your abs.
To target the lower abdominals, leg raises can be done either by lying on your back or using a hanging bar to hold yourself upright. Lift your legs either straight or with your knees bent (easier on the lower back) being sure to pull up with your abs — not using momentum and lower down with control.
The obliques are sometimes ignored, but need to be trained, because they act like a corset tightening around our spine and allow for greater rotational power, which is beneficial in sports and also everyday twisting movements. The Russian twist is a great exercise to strengthen the obliques. With your knees bent and feet on the ground in a 90 degree angle, lean back with a straight spine until feel tension in your abs then twist your torso from side to side with control.
Not only is exercise variety important when training the abdominals, but also focus your form and doing the exercise with control. Never use momentum to do an exercise-you want to avoid injury to the lower back while recruiting more muscle fibers in the abs to gain greater strength and hypertrophy. Be sure to always progress as you become stronger. All muscles including abs need progressive overload in order to improve. Include more repetitions, resistance or try more difficult exercises as you become capable.
The bottom line is that there is no “secret” to six-pack abs. Instead, it takes into account many fitness components that aim for a lean and fit physique. These components are no secret — balanced diet that promotes a speedy metabolism, cardiovascular activity for fat loss, strength training to increase your muscle to fat ratio and raise your resting metabolic rate and a variety of abdominal exercises to strengthen your entire core. Do these sound familiar? Some secrets are too good to be kept.