Obtaining a lean set of chiselled abs is a common ambition for many of us – whether it’s part of our fitness goals, or just to look good on the beach this summer.
But although the ‘secret’ goes far beyond doing hundreds of sit-ups each day, it doesn’t mean you have to spend hours in the gym training your abs. In fact you don’t need to do that many ab exercises at all.
The fastest way to get six-pack abs involves a much more holistic approach that takes into account your diet, some core training and fat-burning movements too.
It All Starts By Adopting A Smarter Approach
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘nothing that’s worth having comes easy’, and the same can be said for developing an impressive set of abs. That said, it doesn’t need to be quite as extreme as you think either. You don’t need to say no to all the foods you love, you don’t need to spend hours sweating away in the gym seven days a week, and you don’t need to train your middle section until you can barely move and the world becomes a blur.
For the majority of us, it’s possible to build the mid-section of our dreams in just an hour or so a day, four of five days a week. The key is to adopt a smarter, more targeted approach that contains discipline and hard work, but also the occasional freedom to eat what you want too in order to keep you motivated and on-track.
The Seven Rules To Rocking Those Six Pack Abs – Fast
1. Eat more protein
Protein is one of the three macronutrients that your body requires in order to function properly – whether that’s at the gym, or just getting up in the morning. Protein has the highest thermogenic (heat producing) effect on your body and helps you build lean muscle whilst also burning body fat which makes it an extremely effective tool in your arsenal because your body burns a load of calories just breaking it down.
It’s no coincidence that professional athletes and bodybuilders eat a high protein diet and have some of the most impressive physiques you’ve ever seen.
2. Consume carbohydrates after your workout
Carbohydrates usually get a bad rap and many will tell you that they’re bad for you and will make you fat, which is simply not true.
Obviously eating too much of anything will make you pile on the pounds but natural, complex carbohydrates that are made up of grains or starchy carbs such as brown rice, oatmeal and sweet potatoes are in fact key in your quest for finding that six-pack, and certainly when eaten after a workout.
The period straight after your workout is the peak time for your body’s potential to start rebuilding and replenishing muscles and it’s during this time that the carbs you consume will have the smallest chance of turning into fat. A good rule is to aim for around 200 calories at a ratio of roughly 2:1 or 1:1 of carbs to protein soon after you finish exercising.
With meals, try to eat a moderate amount of carbs together with adequate protein and one or two cups of vegetables to ensure your body is getting all the nutrients it needs to function at its peak and stay healthy.
3. Eat fat to burn fat
Good or healthy fats come from polyunsaturated or monounsaturated sources such as fish and olive oils, nuts and nut butters and you should be consuming these regularly as part of your diet.
Fat has almost twice as much energy as protein and carbs and if you don’t include it in your diet your body won’t have enough energy to burn fat. Consuming healthy fats also helps to increase your metabolism and keep your insulin levels stable, which are both key to shedding fat.
If you start to combine lean protein with leafy green vegetables, complex carbs and good fats then you will keep your metabolism super-charged and turn your body into a fat-burning machine.
4. Stop doing lots of crunches
Whilst working your abs with exercises such as crunches, leg raises, planks and Russian twists will help to build your core muscles, this is only part of the journey. By incorporating more compound, total body movements into your workouts you will burn more calories, promote fat loss and encourage a far bigger muscle building response.
There are much better exercises to help burn fat, so make that hour in the gym more productive and add things such as deadlifts, barbell squats, dumbbell lunges, pull-ups and push-ups into your gym routine and keep the ab work to about ten minutes, two to three times a week.
5. Do smarter cardio
Whilst long-duration cardio can be beneficial for burning fat, there are far smarter, more efficient ways to burn the same, if not more, fat in a shorter period of time.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a form of interval training which alternates short periods of intense cardiovascular exercise with slightly longer periods of rest, repeated for multiple rounds over ten to fifteen minutes. Compared to many other cardio workouts, HIIT can be a far more effective way to torch fat as the intensity of the workout spikes your heart rate.
To mix it up even further, and if you’re able to, you could try performing a set of crunches during your rest periods in-between your intense intervals.
6. Stay hydrated
Our bodies are made up of 60 per cent water. Water is essential for every part of our health, playing a role in everything from waste removal to temperature regulation.
Staying topped up with water may also help to keep your metabolism high and burn extra body fat as well as reducing your appetite and increasing weight loss. Often times when we feel we’re hungry it could just as likely be that we’re dehydrated.
Water requirements vary based on a number of factors including age, body weight and activity levels, but you should aim to drink between one to two litres of water per day to stay hydrated, and more if you’re active.
7. Don’t deprive yourself of everything you love
Whilst eating the right foods containing good fats, carbs and high protein is key to developing muscle and keeping your metabolism high enough to shift the weight, you don’t have to deprive yourself of all the foods you love either.
Once you’re in a calorie deficit (you’re burning more calories than you’re consuming), and providing your fuelling yourself with the right nutrients to keep your metabolism boosted, you’ll be burning fat. In this scenario, including some of the food you love into your diet, providing you can stay within a calorie defecit, won’t reverse any of the hard work you’re putting in.
So you don’t have to say no to cakes, chocolate or ice cream, providing you can fit them in to your daily calorie intake. In fact, it’s more likely to help reduce food cravings and keep you motivated and on-track to reach your goals even sooner.
Take A More Well-Rounded Approach And See The Results
The key to getting a well-developed, sculpted set of six-pack abs in the fastest way possible is to stop focusing purely on the ab work and start turning your attention to your diet, your exercise and your hydration.
Developing a ripped physique isn’t easy, but it can be made less difficult with a few fairly simple tweaks to your current fitness routine. In short, eat well, exercise smarter, and keep yourself hydrated – those abs will start to appear sooner than you think.
Do you struggle with burning fat around your belly? Or are you someone who’s always found it easy to burn fat? Do you have your own advice about how to burn fat and if so what works for you? Let me know in the comments below.