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A great set of abs, also known as a 6-pack are a sign of being in great shape, but for most people they remain hidden beneath a layer of body fat.

You can do all the sit-ups in the world, but if you’re holding a layer of fat around your stomach, no one’s going to see them.

Fantastic abs aren’t impossible, anyone can get them, it just takes commitment and know-how.

The good news is that you’re going to learn what to do so you too can have the most coveted prize of a great physique – a 6 pack!

Reduce Calories

For your abs to be visible, you have to strip the fat away and this is done by creating a negative energy balance (burn more calories than you consume). Many fitness gurus suggest combining exercise with a calorie reduction of 500kcals below your current intake (try gradually reducing your calories by about 50kcals per day, until you’ve reached the 500kcal target). This should promote a gradual fat loss of around 1-2lbs per week.

TIP: Don’t reduce calories too quickly, or you’ll risk suppressing your metabolism, inhibiting fat loss and crave too much.

Eat More Protein

Many people fail to realise the importance of protein when trying to get lean. Insufficient protein leads to something called a negative nitrogen balance, which leads to loss of muscle mass and a slower metabolic rate. Protein supplements are an easy way to quickly increase protein and provide an instant hit of high quality whey.  Protein can also aid fat loss because it requires more energy to process than fat and carbs.

TIP: Try consuming 2g of protein per Kg of body weight, daily.

Eat Slow Digesting Carbs

To sustain fat loss, stick to small servings of low glycaemic carbs. This will avoid big blood sugar levels spikes and the increase in insulin which is so effective at storing excess carbs as fat. Stick to complex carbs such as oats, low GI fruits and brown rice. Avoid high glycaemic foods (potatoes, cakes, confectionary bars, sugary drinks, white rice, bread and pasta, etc. at all times except post exercise)

TIP: Your body processes carbs better in the morning, so limit your carbs in the afternoon and evening – This should speed up fat loss.

Eat Essential Fats

Fat in itself does not make you over-weight, only excess calories, inactivity and excess bad oils make you fat. However, fat is calorie dense so any fat you eat must be more of the healthy type. Increase your consumption of EFA’s (essential fatty acids), as these can actually increase your metabolic rate. If you concentrate on eating lean proteins (chicken breast, lean red meat, fish, free range eggs) and healthy carbs, you are dramatically reducing unhealthy fats. You should then aim to consume a small serving of healthy fats with your meals, including:

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Oily fish
  • Avocadoes
  • Nuts (except cashews)
  • or an EFA supplements

Eat Every 2-3 Hours

Eating 5 or 6 small meals is vital to reducing body fat by reducing cravings and the release of the catabolic stress hormone, cortisol (cortisol inhibits the fat burning process, so don’t skip meals), by controlling cortisol you dramatically reduce muscle breakdown.

TIP: To keep your body in a fat burning mode (positive nitrogen balance) always include a source of high quality protein (lean meat, fish, eggs) and consume a glass of water with each meal. Never skip breakfast.

Weight Training

Weight training is essential to maintain a high metabolic rate and develop an impressive 6-pack and when you reduce calories, your muscle tissue risks being burnt as fuel. Weight training counteracts this problem by promoting protein synthesis and natural hormone levels, preserving your hard earned muscle tissue.

TIP: Stick to heavy compound lifts such as dead lifts, squats, bench presses and the shoulder press and get your session completed within 45 – 55 minutes. Weight train 2-3 times per week.

Cardio

Cardio is the traditional ‘fat burning’ exercise, but it’s important to do it correctly to promote fat burning while preserving muscle.

HIIT

This doesn’t matter whether you are just starting out or are very fit, high intensity interval training (HIIT), such as 10 x 100m sprints separated by 2 minutes of brisk walking. HIIT produces a large excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) (the amount of energy required to return your metabolic rate back to pre-exercise levels). If you create a big EPOC, your metabolism will be increased for hours while your body recovers.

TIP: To prevent muscle being burnt as fuel, consume fast digesting protein before cardio sessions. Keep sessions under 60 minutes and perform cardio and weights on different days.

Ab Exercises

Ab exercises build and tone your abdominal muscles, but ab exercises alone will never give you the mid-section you crave. Spot reduction (burning fat from a particular body part using targeted exercises) is a myth, so performing 100 sit-ups a day will not melt away abdominal fat, nor will those electrical stimulant machines! Use ab exercises to sculpt your Core area, then use a strict diet and exercise programme to reveal them.

TIP: Stick to basic crunches, hanging leg raises and oblique crunches. To build rugged 6-pack muscles, you’ll need to add weight (carefully so as to avoid injury) in the 6-12 reps range. For general toning, stick to lighter weights and higher reps (10-20 rep range). Train your abs 2-3 times per week.

Night Time Nutrition

A small protein meal prior to bed is a trick used to prevent muscle loss when sleeping, whilst also promoting fat burning. Protein Supplements provides a boost of easily digested amino acids, ideal for creating a muscle maintenance state before bed.

Follow my advice for the next six weeks and you’ll be amazed at the changes in your ab definition and tone. Remember that your Core muscles won’t appear by magic, so you’ll only get out what you put in.

Enjoy your training

stefantaylorfitness

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