By: Mike Whitfield
It’s rare that a day goes by without someone coming up to me and asking, “How do I get 6-pack abs?” or “How do I get rid of this?” (as they point to their love handles). Then they wait for some magical answer like it’s some kind of freaky deeky superset of sit-ups and doing bicep curls on a Bosu ball. That’s the “feel-good” answer and you know better. The good news is that you came to the right place.
Losing fat is hard. Getting 6-pack abs is even harder. It’s not impossible. It’s very achievable. This sounds like the beginning of a Disney song for fitness. Moving on…
I’ll walk you through mindset, preparation, nutrition and exercise. I will also show you some bonus strategies. Understand this… it will be hard. Which brings me to the first point…
Step 1 – Ripped Abs Mindset
Remember the scene in “Braveheart”, where all the Scottish men get all riled up when Scottish leader William Wallace asks them “Are you ready for a war!”? Then later on, just before battle, some of them second-guess their decision. They saw that they were outnumbered and had limited weapons. If it weren’t for Wallace, the Scottish would have gone right back home and never won their freedom.
The same goes for the 6-pack abs. It sure feels good to decide that you’re going to get leaner. You get excited and riled up. But the truth is that when the time comes to get to work, many of us turn around and go home. We don’t follow through. That’s where the mindset comes in. Once you decide to get a 6-pack, understand that there will be times you will be outnumbered by distractions, parties, peer pressure, etc., etc.
No matter what happens, you must continue the fight. Sticking to a nutrition plan, performing metabolic resistance training, and metabolic finishers is hard. But it works. Work the plan, and the plan will give you a 6-pack.
Step 2 – Preparation to Get Ripped Abs
If you go to the gym and walk on the treadmill while watching back-to-back episodes of “Jeopardy”, you’re wasting your time. As a matter of fact, this kind of unproductive chaos is preventing you from getting 6-pack abs. Studies have shown that long cardio can increase your appetite. If you’re hungrier, you’re going to eat more calories than you burn off, including the ones you supposedly burned off on the elliptical. So by doing too much cardio, you can actually gain fat. That’s like <<dramatic pause>>, not cool.
You need to go into the gym with a plan of attack, with your ears pinned back, ready to wage war against fat. It needs to be a structured program including exercise order, reps and sets. It needs to be so good, you can almost lose weight by looking at it on paper. An efficient plan that doesn’t take much time is metabolic resistance training with finishers. That way, you won’t be in the gym all day and can stick to it.
You also need to prepare what nutrition program you will stick to. “I’ll eat better” is not a plan to get 6-pack abs. There is no perfect diet plan that works for everybody. Find one that fits your lifestyle. Plan your nutrition, including your reward meals so you don’t have feelings of guilt.
Map your workouts. I recommend you get it done first thing in the morning so that you don’t have any excuses to skip it and be diligent. If you have a big interview planned, would you miss it? You need to set your 6-pack abs appointments the same way. No excuses… once it’s in your appointment book, it’s done. Don’t let anything get in your way. So, what I’m saying is to plan, plan, plan.
Step 3 – Nutrition for Ripped Six Pack Abs
To get advanced results like 6-pack abs, takes advanced nutrition approaches. There are some great plans out there like Eat-Stop-Eat, The Diet Solution and Cheat Your Way Thin. The theme is all the same – a calorie deficit.
It will probably take some consistent and diligent tweaking. You will need to invest some time and see what is working. You can use fitday.com, some old-school pen and paper, or any other way of tracking your nutrition. If you find something is working, don’t jack with it. Adjust only when necessary. The last few lbs to show off the abs can be tricky, so keep an eye on the nutrition details. Everything you consume will either get you closer or further away from your goals.
Step 4 – Exercises for Abs
Lift weights and lift heavy. Put down the vinyl-dipped weights and pick up the real ones. To get 6-pack abs, you need to set a metabolic disturbance across the entire body. Use a variety of big, compound movements and rep ranges. Save time with non-competing supersets and circuits.
The days of sit-ups and crunches are dead. Leave that up to the guy wearing the MC Hammer pants. You’ll need to do moves that can improve your core strength and endurance, while slimming the waist line. You need to implement stability ball jackknives, stability ball and ab wheel rollouts (my favorite), planks, side planks, cable core presses and other core stuff that works your abs effectively without wrecking havoc on your back.
To save time, implement what I call “Ab Finishers” at the end of your workouts, which is a combination of the best ab exercises, conditioning moves and using incomplete recovery. These finishers can include a variety of bodyweight, stability ball and dumbbell exercises. They challenge you mentally and physically, but they work and save time.
Stay active on your off days. I don’t care if you play with your dog, go for a run/jog/walk, or play a freaky game of “Twister”. Just don’t let it interfere with your main workouts. The idea is to stay active; save the high intensity for your main workouts.
Take measurements every 3-4 weeks. If you don’t see a difference, then it’s time to make adjustments. Tweak and re-tweak. If you don’t have the patience for that, then you don’t want 6-pack abs.
Be sure to keep a workout log and change your routine and metabolic finishers every 4 weeks. This will prevent you from the dreaded fat loss plateau and prevent overuse injuries. At each workout, aim to set a personal best to 1-2 exercises. You must challenge yourself to get advanced results.
Your 6-pack abs are there, you just have to unleash them…. or some other cool sentence that would have sounded cool right here.
Look for Mike’s new program, “Ab Workout Finishers” in February, 2012.