It’s one of the most common grievances amongst avid gym goers. You train and train and train your abs with endless sessions of crunches and sit-ups but your six-pack just isn’t popping out like you want it to. It can seem like you’re fighting a losing battle but the good news is that the issue can likely be whittled down to one of a few things. Identify your main weakness and make the necessary changes to get well on your way to a cover model worthy six-pack.
You’re diet isn’t properly honed
It’s cliché and somewhat over-used but the saying ‘abs are build in the kitchen not the gym’ is spot on. You can do as many crunches, sit-ups and leg-raises as you like, but you’re diet has to be just as hardcore as your training. This means lots of protein, less starchy carbs and saturated fats and more of a strict regiment when it comes to when and what you’re eating for every meal of the day. Check out our lean in four weeks meal plan for an idea on what a normal weeks eating should look like.
Your body fat percentage isn’t low enough
Ah the dreaded high body fat percentage, scrouge of many a man looking to show off his abs. The bad news is that if yours is too high you’re six-pack will be hiding behind a layer of fat for years to come. “If your body fat isn't around the 10% mark your abs simply won't show,” says sports scientist Ross Edgley. A cheap, quick and effective way of reducing body fat according to the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition is to accompany all of your meals with green tea. This helps to boost the metabolism and accelerates your body’s break down of fat by 30%. For more on how to reduce body fat percentage quickly, check out our handy guide.
You’re trying too hard
Rest is an important factor for any training goal, and getting a six-pack is no different. Muscle is built during the hours when you’re body is resting as your hormone levels are elevated during the night. Plus, if you’re not getting enough sleep the dreaded stress hormone cortisol will start to flood your system, which will encourage your body to start storing fat around your core. Lack of sleep is as big a six-pack killer as eating junk food every evening.
You’re training plan isn’t diverse enough
Do not insult your body’s intelligence by doing the same old moves every time you train your abs. You need to mix it up as much as you can, allowing you to assault your core muscles from all angles, forcing them to adapt and continue to grow. There are just three different types of body movement that effectively work your abs: flexion and extension moves like crunches; rotation exercises like medicine ball twists; and static contraction moves like the plank or hanging leg lifts. The most effective abs workouts will incorporate an exercise from each of these movement types. Pick and choose from some of these core moves to help you keep things fresh.
You’re neglecting the rectus abdominus
While it is true that compound exercises will indeed work your core research has shown that they elicit very little activation in your rectus abdominus (the main six-pack muscle). In order to get that perfect six-pack that you seek you’ll need to ensure that you are isolating the rectus abdominus at least twice a week.
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