So how do you make it happen?
While big lift training should certainly be in your repertoire, developing six-pack abs goes far beyond just squatting, deadlifting and bench pressing.
Your abdominals are comprised of slow and fast twitch muscle fibers, so hitting various rep ranges is vital. Similar to any other muscle, as your abs get stronger, a progressive approach must be utilized to forge further progress.
An appropriate exercise selection is key to ensure you hit all parts of your midsection. Regardless of how strong your abs are, without a diet that supports a lean physique, you'll be rocking a keg instead of six pack.
On the flip side, slashing calories down to almost nothing will also backfire. For the majority, augmenting cardio training will help provide the necessary fat loss for revealing the washboard.
Managing stress levels to ensure hormone regulation is also needed. It is on par with increasing cardio, and is often the overlooked weakness in one's approach to getting shredded.
If you neglect even one of these elements it could mean the difference between being photo shoot ready and massive frustration. But don't worry, this piece will address all the roadblocks you could potentially face before you encounter them.
With these practical action steps, along with an effective ab workout provided at the end, you'll be equipped to see results much faster with less frustration. And finally, you'll be on your way to a set of abs that look like they've been cut from granite.
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5 Steps to a Granite-Hard, Shredded Washboard
1. Manage stress to maximize fat lossIt isn't revolutionary news that abs are made in the kitchen. As true as that is, the secret to a killer six pack is the ability to manage the stress in your life. We're all busy these days, but to advise that you should drop everything move to island and sip pina coladas to relieve stress simply isn't realistic (and it also sounds terribly boring).
Instead, the practical solution is to learn how to deal with everyday stress. Why is this important? It's imperative because the stress hormone cortisol is released every time you are under any type of stress.
The boss comes down on you at work for something that wasn't your fault. That 2 hour commute home from work that drives you mad. An argument with your spouse. Scarfing down tons of junk food stemmed from emotional eating.
When you're constantly stressed and don't employ any ways to relieve yourself, cortisol levels become chronically elevated. In the process, your body transitions into fat storage mode, and most of it accumulates around the waist.
The reason why stress management is so often overlooked, is because it can be a complex thing to deal with. However, when it comes to common everyday stress, adopting a meditation practice is the simplest and most practical way to get stress under control.
People who meditate regularly have higher testosterone levels and lower cortisol levels. Moreover, meditation also improves sleep, and speeds recovery time due to the hormone regulation it causes.
You don't need to flee to the Himalayas and wear a robe to reap the benefits of meditation either. In fact, all you need is 10 minutes a day from wherever you are: The office, at home, or in the park. For beginners to advanced meditators, a great app to download on your phone is headspace. It's like a personal trainer for your brain.
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2. Stimulate all muscle fibers to maximize ab sizeYour midsection and core muscles are what keeps you upright all day long. In fact, your abdominal region is made up of about 55-58% type I, slow twitch muscle fibers. They're built from low-intensity, high endurance muscle fibers that tend to require a broad range of training stimulus to induce muscle growth. So, high rep crunches will improve aerobic capacity, but will do little to carve a beautiful six pack.
To hit all muscle fibers in your midsection, you need an arsenal of movements that stroke all ranges of reps: low, moderate and high rep training need to be leveraged in order to slice up your core into a six pack.
Since the rest of your midsection is made up of fast twitch fibers (Type iia and Type iib) which respond well to rep ranges in the 8-12 with heavy to moderate loads, your approach should reflect that. In the exercise list provided, we make sure you don't skimp out on heavy ab work.
3. Dial in your diet to get shreddedThe revealing of a washboard midsection hinges on the level of body fat you're carrying. You may be able to do 300 pound standing cable crunches, but even with strong abs, if too much fat resides beneath the skin, you're six pack will never make an appearance.
If your abs aren't razor sharp, it's probably because your diet isn't either.
First, determine your calorie needs. Simply match your activity level with the chart below, then multiply your bodyweight with the appropriate multiplier.
Activity Level - Multiply bodyweight in pounds by:
- Sedentary - 10-12
- Moderately active (3-4X a week) - 14-16
- Very active (5-6X a week) - 16-18
50 Calibre®; A hard hitting Pre Workout Devastator designed to make every workout an explosive, energy fueled assault. Buy now.Next, you'll determine your macronutrient ratios. To do so, simply choose your body type in the chart below and then calculate the recommend percentage of the protein, carbs and fat.
Keep in mind this is a general classification, so don't stress out if you can't pinpoint which category you fall under. Most people will be a blend of two body types. Do you best to identify yourself. This is merely a tool for a starting point.
Somatotype - Protein/Carbs/Fat
- Ectomorphic (skinny, naturally lean) - Fast metabolic rate. Higher carb tolerance. 25% protein - 55% carbs - 20% fat.
- Mesomorphic (Athletic, naturally muscular) - Testosterone dominant. Moderate carb tolerance. 30% protein - 40% carbs - 30% fat.
- Endomorphic (Heavy, thick and naturally big) - Insulin dominant. Slow metabolic rate. Low carb tolerance. 35% protein - 25% carbs - 40% fat.
Supplementing with BCAA's will help you to get shredded when dieting. Studies show that those who take BCAA's have lower body fat and improved insulin signaling.
Lastly a fat burner will add some rocket fuel to your fat loss. Fat burners do their job by helping you manage hunger, increase energy levels, and boost metabolism. Augmenting your training, and diet with Grenade Thermo Detonator will help scorch the fat off your midsection.
4. Don't severely slash your calories
Fat loss can be achieved without feeling deprived or constantly hungry. However, cutting calories far below an appropriate deficit is commonplace. In an attempt to lose fat faster, the exact opposite happens when you dip your intake too far.
For most people, slashing your calories beyond a 40% deficit will rapidly downregulate your metabolism. Your body is trying to preserve the fuel it currently has, and suddenly believing it's in a famine (your body doesn't know if your dieting or if food is scarce) will force an unwanted response. The result is a slowed metabolism and less fat burning.
Circling back to the stress hormone cortisol, restricting your intake to severely induces a stress response. When intake is really low, more cortisol is released to keep you going. If this cycle is chronic, your body again shifts into fat storage mode. Most of this fat will accumulate around the waist. Certainly not a recipe for a razor-sharp six-pack.
You might think that dieting must be horrific in order to be successful, but that's not true at all. Don't be mistaken, burning fat will require some work, it's a part of the process. But the goal should always be to burn fat while keeping your calories as high possible by including foods that you already love.
Nobody can eat broiled chicken and steamed broccoli all the time. Eating as much as you can (both calorically and variety wise) while still progressing in your fat loss is the goal. And, it's possible. By following the tips in this article and never dropping below a 40% deficit will allow you to do just that.
5. Add cardio into the mixIt's important to mention that if your goal is to improve your body composition, then prioritizing strength training over cardio is your first task. If you do the opposite, I can promise you that you'll never be satisfied with your physique.
Assuming you've got your strength program set and diet dialed in, and your body fat levels are still above 10-12% for men or 17-19% for women, you need to add cardio into the mix.
Unless you're an endurance athlete, long consistent bouts of steady state cardio will not help improve your physique. Sprint training is far superior to long steady state cardio sessions when it comes to improving body composition. Sprint training is the best "bang for your buck" type of cardio. It gives back considerably more in benefits compared to the effort (and time) required.
In a study, participants did either 20 weeks of steady state aerobic training or 15 weeks of sprint intervals. The sprint interval group lost nine times more body fat and 12 percent more visceral bodyfat than the group who did steady state aerobic training. Sprint intervals training burns more fat. But does that mean we should never do steady state cardio?
Sprint interval training is very demanding and you simply can't do it 5-6 times a week on top of your strength training. Augmenting 1 or 2 steady state cardio sessions is fine and it might even improve recovery.
For your interval training, 30 seconds of work, followed by 60 seconds of rest for 20-30 minutes will suffice. Any medium you prefer will work: Airdyine, rower, running, kettbelle swings, ski erg. spin bike, hill sprints. Whatever. Start with 3 sessions a week and based on your fat loss progress, you can add more volume as needed.
Team Grenade's Jamie Alderton shows you his 8 minute abs workout.
Exercises For A Six Pack That Looks Like It Was Cut From Granite
1. Knee tuck rollbackHold yourself in push up position on a swiss ball. The ball should be supporting at your lower shins and ankles.
To initiate the movement push your hips toward the ceiling and at the top be sure to squeeze your abdominal. To recover, straighten out your legs by rolling your feet back, all while keeping your core engaged.
Instead of stopping at your original push up position, continue to rollback until the Swiss ball is up around your upper thighs and your arms are fully extended in front you of you. From here, you'll reverse the motion and repeat.
I like this movement particularity because it targets the upper and lower abs without loading the lower back.
Ideal Rep Range: 10-20 reps (light load)
2. Suspension strap fall outsBe sure to have the straps adjusted so they hang somewhere around your hips. To initiate you'll grasp the handles with an overhand grip. Before you "fall out" be sure to activate your glutes, hips and abs. Once you've done this, you'll fall out keeping your arms straight leaning further into the straps and bringing your body closer to the ground.
Keep a neutral spine. Your shoulder joints should be the only joints moving in this exercise. Once you've reached the peak of the fall out, keep everything tight and with straight arms bring yourself up back to starting position and repeat.
This is a great anterior core movement that you can scale to your ability. As you get stronger, you can progressively move further back.
Ideal rep range: 8-12 (moderate load)
3. Iso-chin up hold L-sit
The L-sit on its own is a deceptively demanding exercise. But combining it with an iso-chin up hold takes it to another level.
This combo movement will not only tax your midsection, it'll improve your grip strength and help you fill out your T-shirt sleeves by hitting the biceps too. You can perform these in a squat rack from a seated position. But you can do them from a pull up bar or rings too.
To initiate, you'll take supinated grip of the bar. Pull yourself up until the bar is slightly under your chin. Once you've established your chin up hold, you'll extend your legs straight out in front of you and hold the position.
Ideal rep range: This one is a time priority exercise. Working up to upwards of 30 seconds per set is the goal.
4. Barbell sit upYou'll start the barbell press sit up lying on your back with the bar pressed (similar to the lockout position of a bench press). From this position, with an engaged midline, you'll sit up and press the barbell to an overhead position.
As you lift, be sure to keep your arms extended and locked out. A good mental cue is to think about driving your shoulders into your ears through the press. To recover, you'll keep the bar pressed while controlling the descend with your core.
If you're attempting these for the first time, use a PVC pipe and anchor your feet with some dumbbells. If you have some experience with the barbell press sit up, it's best to have a spotter assist you into starting position if you're attempting a heavy weight.
Ideal rep range: 6-10 (Heavy to moderate load)
5. Dragon flagThe objective of the dragon flag is to lift your entire body up in a straight line, stacking vertically over your shoulders, then slowly lowering yourself back down until parallel to the ground (without having your hips and glutes touch the floor).
The dragon flag is tough. It demands extreme stabilization from your abs. Your lower back and glutes also play a critical role in this movement.
Perform the dragon flag on the floor while supporting myself with an anchor for support (like the leg of a squat rack). The goal is to keep your body straight, and avoid any kind of bending or sagging at the hips at any point in the movement.
Ideal rep range: 8-12 (Heavy to moderate load)