Whether you’re training to reach your fitness goals or simply striving for that bikini beach bod, it pays to know the best ways to go about achieving your dream abs. Unfortunately, gaining a steel set of 6 pack abs involves more than just crunches, planks and whatever else you’ve seen on those quick-fix Instagram posts.
The road to long term abs requires hard work and dedication. But once you incorporate these simple tips into your everyday life, you’ll be laughing your way into six pack heaven.
A Healthy Diet
Let’s start with food. Before we get into gym talk, I must quote the infamous “Abs are made in the kitchen” – And it’s true. All the ab exercises in the world could not overpower bad eating habits. It is crucial to correctly fuel the body that you work hard for in the gym.
- High protein foods help support muscle growth, aid weight loss and fight belly fat – a perfect nutrient to help form those popping abs. So upping your protein intake is a good first tip to take on board! Think eggs, meat, poultry, seafood, nuts, seeds, dairy products.
- Water. Keeping hydrated has an endless amount of positives effects on the human body. One being that it bumps up your metabolism which helps reduce the risk of weight gain and helps shed belly fat, making those abs more visible. 2 litres a day is a standard recommendation to keep well-hydrated.
- Try to cut back on processed foods and refined carbs that are often stored as fat around the belly region. So that’s your beloved pastries, pizzas and all things sugary in between. Switching from foods with processed grains to whole grain foods will eliminate the risk of crashes in blood sugar levels and help you achieve that flat toned stomach.
- Fuel up on fibre – a simple way to increase weight loss and achieve six-pack abs. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds are just a few healthy, high-fibre foods that you can add to your diet to help burn belly fat.
Switching up your Ab Routine
Exercising your abdominal muscles is key to increasing muscle mass and strengthening your core. Whilst abdominal crunches, bridges and planks are popular ab-creating exercises, there are an endless amount of exercises that you can implement into your ab routine to achieve a toned stomach. Have you ever tried the abs snail? Exactly.
We recommend exploring different ab exercises and switching up your routine every couple weeks. Repeating the same movements week by week will only plateau your progress. Once your body adapts to a fitness routine, it is unlikely that you will keep progressing at a steady rate as your body needs adjustments that will force it to work in new and challenging ways.
Don’t be afraid to try a new ab exercise you’ve seen online, even if it first looks confusing. Our Club Vitae gym instructors are always around to help you with your form or set up, so don’t hesitate to ask!
Add Weight and Compound Movements
Adding weight to your ab exercises is an excellent way to increase core strength and avoid that progress plateau. Progressive overload is a popular muscle training feature which involves a gradual increase of stress placed on the body. By increasing the volume, resistance, intensity, frequency or time of a movement, your body is being forced to work harder each time, resulting in muscle size, strength and endurance gains.
For abdominal muscle growth, try adding a weighted plate on your back when doing the plank or hold a dumbbell whilst performing the Russian twist. Alternatively, increasing the number of reps you perform per set will push your body to work harder, thus enhancing muscle growth.
Compound movements such as squats and deadlifts should also not be overlooked when it comes to ab-building. Compound movements, which work multiple muscle groups at the same time often require a strong core to carry through the movement. This meaning for example, that if you’re constantly increasing your squat weight, your core will simultaneously reap the benefits. So remember, your abs are being worked more than you think.
So you’ve got your diet on track, you’re mixing up your ab routine, you’ve added weight, but you’re still not seeing those 6 popping abs? Don’t fear! They’re most likely just hiding behind that stubborn belly fat we all have.
This is where cardio or HIIT circuits come in to play. Lucky for you our 13 clubs across Ireland offer a range of fitness classes that incorporate both HIIT and steady cardio. Incorporating regular cardio sessions into your weekly routine will help speed up your journey to visible abs. Aerobic exercises that actively increase your heart rate will help you burn fat, particularly in the belly area. Running, swimming, cycling, or even participating in a favourite sport are simple ways to incorporate cardio into your fitness routine.
However, if you despise the treadmill, the thought of jogging at one steady speed for 40 minutes, then I’m here to introduce you to High Intensity Interval Training, commonly known as HIIT. A proven way to quickly burn fat, HIIT involves short periods of highly intense anaerobic exercise with less recovery time. In summary, the idea is that you accelerate all your energy into a fixed set of exercises, for a shorter amount of time and almost until failure. This way, you give it your absolute all, you’re in and out in 20-30 minutes and your metabolic rate is sky high for hours after exercising. Perfect for shedding that belly fat and uncovering your glistening abs.
So there you have it, pair your abdominal weighted exercises with regular cardio and a healthy diet and your abs will come shining through in no time. Happy planking!
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