After all, guys can workout twice a day, train for years, build an awesome set of muscles, and still not see their abs coming through. That’s because when it comes to building a strong, polished set of abs, the amount of time you spend in the gym and all the crunches in the world is not the determining factor – following the right strategies outside the gym is.
So whether you’re a gym newbie, or just never had any real success in having the type of six-pack which ‘turn heads’, here’s everything you need to know to get the abs every guy wants.
1. Work your Rectus Abdominis
When guys mention six-pack’s, they are really talking about one muscle, called the Rectus Abdominis. “The rectus abdominis runs from our lower ribs down to the top of our pubic bone, and fibrous bands of tissue break up the muscle along the way to give us the six-pack look we all desire,” explains kinesiologist David Cary, C.P.T. If you want a sprout six-pack, this is the muscle you need to train.
Since the muscle is designed to bring your lower ribs and pelvis closer together or farther apart, you need to work them that way— with focused crunches.
But instead of trying to go for volume on reps, slow down the tempo and really focus on the movement and contraction of the intended muscle. Focusing on quality over quantity will also help protect your back. Performing crunches poorly can be potentially troublesome for the lower back.
2. Don’t forget your deep core muscles
Even though a flat, strong stomach is what you want to see in the mirror, the inner core muscles, obliques and transverse abdominis, are the foundation of your six-pack. Try adding some creative core exercises to your workouts such as planks, dead bugs or core rotations. All these tap your core’s ability to stabilize it, rather than crunch your core.
3. Get to know your body fat percentage
No matter how strong your core gets, you aren’t going to see a six-pack if your muscles are hiding behind layers of fat. Each person is going to be slightly different, but the ideal range of body fat in men is ten to 18 percent. Get below 8 percent and you could be compromising your health.
4. Cleaning up your diet
Apart from helping your body-fat percentage levels where it needs to be, eating the right foods (and avoiding too much of the wrong ones) will help chisel away any unwanted belly fat. Eating wholesome carbs like brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes and fruit will help give you fuel so that you can burn more calories in your workouts, protein-rich foods like lean meats, fish and eggs will help your muscles recover so they can get stronger and build. Unsaturated fats from almond butter, olive oil and avocado, will help your metabolism and hormone levels function at its best and will absorb all of the nutrients it needs.
Read More: Why Consuming Protein Helps You Lose Fat
As a general rule, opt for whole foods which contain lean protein, fibre, healthy fats and whole carbohydrates. Avoid processed ones that contain added sugars, refined carbohydrates and tons of salt. Remember, you can’t out-train a bad diet.
5. Work your legs
When it comes to chiselling a six-pack, many men don’t think to work on the muscles outside their core. But to uncover your abs, you need to train your entire body, especially your leg muscles. Some of the largest and metabolically consuming muscles in our body are in our lower-half. Coach Paul says: “Work your lower body by doing compound exercises such as squats, lunges and deadlifts.” If you can engage your core whilst performing these exercises, even better.
6. Drink more water
Whilst staying hydrated is important no matter your health and fitness goals, you absolutely need to drink up if your working so hard for your abs to sculpt. Our bodies consist of two-thirds of water, and you want to make sure it stays that way. If you’re dehydrated and puffy, your abs are not going to look and sharp as they could.