As a gym goer, there are certain fitness goals and achievements that many seek to accomplish. Possibly it’s large biceps, with arms reaching 16 inches around. Or it could be broad shoulders, giving you the perfect muscular frame and structure. But there is no arguing the most sought after accomplishment is that of the famed “six pack” abs, acting as the the gold standard in fitness goals.
So if that’s the goal that everyone is after, why is it that no one seems to be flaunting their impeccable midsection? Well unfortunately, the reason everyone pines after perfect abdominals is the same reason most don’t have them; it is incredibly difficult.
So this is why we have put together a fool proof strategy for achieving the beach body everyone craves, giving you the ability to flex your abs and show off your hard work the next time you are poolside.
The Science Of The Abdominals
Before we break into the specifics of how to obtain perfect abs, we should explain the anatomical layout of them first.
Your abdominals are surprisingly a very large muscle, with small subsections and separations. The two main muscles include the rectus abdominis and the external obliques, making up the inner and outer sections of your abdominals respectively.
The rectus abdominis is what makes up the enumerated “six pack” portion of your midsection, with horizontal tendons splitting up the muscle into seemingly different parts. This is the area that draws the most attention, and as you will find out, is the hardest to accentuate.
The external obliques make up the area on either side of the rectus abdominis, ranging from the bottom of your serratus muscle down to the pubic area. The obliques give your midsection the wide or thicker look, framing the inner muscles when properly developed.
You may be shocked to find out that not all abs are created equal, and the six pack you see on the cover fitness magazines may not be the six pack you end up with. Muscle “bellies”, or the overall shape and structure of a particular muscle, vary significantly from physique to physique. From your biceps to your quadriceps, no two muscles will ever have the same genetic layout.
This is especially true with abdominals, being one of the most aesthetically diverse muscle groups. So don’t get discouraged when your abs look different than you originally thought, because no two sets of abs will ever be the same.
Step #1: Building Up Your Abs
Just like with any muscle, abs obviously require training and strenuous activity for them to grow. Contrary to popular belief, the same methodology into training your chest, arms, legs or otherwise, should be similarly applied to your abdominals.
You’ll find many applying unique and unorthodox methods to build their abs, flying against common sense and subsequently minimizing the effectiveness of their workouts. Here are some things to keep in mind while building up your midsection:
Step #2: Fixing Your Diet
There is a common fitness sentiment that states achieving abs are 10% training and 90% diet. Now hyperbole aside, there is a lot of truth to this assumption. No matter how effective your training is, if you are failing in the kitchen, you’ll never be able to achieve the abs you desire.
The main goal when adjusting your diet in search of great abs is to lose your unnecessary fat, trimming away the outer layer that is hiding the abs below. The method to losing that extra fat is actually very simple, but that doesn’t mean that the process will be easy.
Our first step in correcting your diet is to reduce your overall calorie count, as this is the primary factor in fat loss. Depending on your current physique, this can either be a short or very long process. A safe method of weight loss is to cut back a specific amount of calories from your diet everyday, with the consistent deficit gradually adding up into a significant fat loss.
A deficit of 500 calories a day is a safe and attainable goal for most people, resulting in one pound of fat lost per week (3500 calories in total). But you may be asking, “500 calories less than what?” The key to figuring this out is by determining your total daily energy expenditure, or TDEE as it’s commonly written.
There are online calculators that take into account your activity level, height, age, sex, and other factors that will narrow down specifically how many calories you burn on a daily basis. So if, for example, you burn 2000 calories daily, your caloric consumption should equal out to about 1500.
Hitting your daily caloric goal, in conjunction with the above mentioned protein supplementation, will help you retain your muscle and burn that extra fat. Chicken, lean beef, fish, beans, and eggs are all great protein sources to add into your new diet.
The gradual fat loss will yield the most important result of revealing your ab muscles, with each drop in body fat slowly exposing all of the details in your midsection. You should continue on your diet for as long as necessary until you hit your desired physique.
Step #3: Flexing Your Abs
Once you have built your abs up, and dieted off the surrounding fat, the final step is learning how to show them off. This means being able to properly contract and “flex” the muscles in your midsection, emphasizing their size, detail, and separation.
To practice the act of flexing, it is best to imagine the state of muscle contraction while performing ab based exercises. To simulate this, you can lay horizontal on the ground, with your legs and back flat. Begin the motion of a standard crunch, but with your arms to the side, and sense the feeling of your abdominals contracting. You will notice how difficult it is to perform the crunching motion solely by contracting your abs, but it is a great way to replicate the sensation of flexing.
After you’re able to actively contract your abs on command, you can begin to practice the motion while standing. Holding the “flex” for extended periods of time, with short intervals in between, can act as an essential tool in maximizing your ability to contract your midsection. Along with mastering the mind connection to your abs, it also acts to further train and strengthen your midsection without having to actively be in the gym and train them.
If you follow all of these steps, implementing diet, training, and flexing practice into your routine, you are guaranteed to eventually achieve your dream abs. The steps to achieving your ideal six pack are simple, but sustaining the routine will require hard work and dedication to reach your perfect abs.