When we talk about the abs or six-pack, we’re referring to the rectus abdominis, two parallel muscles that run vertically down the front of the torso from sternum to pubis. The rectus abdominis’ function is to flex the spine. Together with other postural muscles, the rectus abdominis also helps stabilize the core and hold the torso upright. (Here’s a useful fact for next time you play Trivial Pursuit – the “lines” in the six-pack that we all covet are created by bands of connective tissue that hold the muscles together.)
Before you moan that you’ll never get abs, or you’ll never have a six-pack, let me let you in on a secret. Everyone has abs! You wouldn’t be able to get out of bed if you didn’t. Your six-pack is already there, just hidden under a layer of fat. Or to use a metaphor, your abs are like rocks temporarily covered with snow. You just need to let the snow melt to reveal those rocks. Here are three tips that will help bring your abs out of hiding:
- Eat Clean. They’re not pulling your leg when they say that “abs are made in the kitchen”. Nutrition is a big part of the six-pack equation. Without a clean diet, you can do crunches until the cows come home, and you still won’t see your abs. You have to consistently maintain a diet from clean food sources comprising a moderate amount of carbs, a good amount of protein, and a relatively low amount of fat to help you strip away the fat overlaying the muscles.
- Train Smart. In combination with eating clean, you need to boost your metabolism and burn fat by training smart. Our fast-paced 15-30 minute Microfitness workouts are a quick and good way to keep your fat-burning furnace revving both during the short but intense workouts, as well as in the 24 to 48 hours afterward. You can also do a moderate amount of steady cardio to help melt the fat away faster.
- Load Your Abs. Like any other muscle, your abs won’t pop until you train them. (Or if we go back to the snow metaphor, the bigger the rock, the more visible it will be as the snow melts.) Load your abs with some targeted strength training exercises (such as hanging leg raises, bicycle crunches, the plank, and many others) to encourage muscle hypertrophy. Since the abs are always working to flex or stabilize the torso, it takes some effort to overload them. Don’t be afraid to ramp up the resistance or the number of repetitions.
Nothing worth having is easily attained. A few desultory crunches every other day, combined with a sloppy diet, will get you exactly nowhere. If you want those ripped abs, you’ll have to commit to a clean diet and a regular exercise program for the long haul. If you’ve quite some fat to shed, those ridges in your abdomen will take a bit longer to show up, but don’t be discouraged. Just keep going. Consistent adherence to the three tips above will give you that six-pack you’ve always dreamed of!