Getting a summer six pack or toned stomach is really not as difficult as it's made out to be. There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding this topic because there's a lot of money in selling shortcuts that don't work. When it comes down to it, all you need to know to get a six pack or flat stomach is how to diet and build up your core strength.
How to Get Shredded and Toned
Let's dive a little bit deeper into the two steps needed to reach your goals. If it wasn't obvious, the following steps should take place concurrently:
- Strengthen your core so that muscle is present beneath your existing fat
- Lose excess bodyfat
For step 1, you'll need to develop an exercise routine that focuses on your core strength and stability. How this is done will vary depending on your goals and available equipment. For step 2, I encourage you to read my article on flexible dieting. You don't need a fat burner or some other trending supplement to get abs. All it takes is focus and a little bit of discipline with your diet. These same steps can be applied to help you get lean, get a ripped body, or improve your overall physique.
Best Ab Workouts and Exercises
When developing an ab workout, think of it more as a core workout. The simplest way to think of your core is to consider your "trunk." This includes your traditional abs, obliques, lower back, and surrounding muscles.
You'll want to focus on each area as you develop your abs to avoid instabilities. In this section, I'll cover core exercises you can perform at the gym or at home. I encourage you to implement both into your program. Weighted days should act as your "intense" days, whereas non-weighted days should be your "light" days.
Best Ab Workouts at the Gym
While there's some crossover, there are a number of ab exercises you can do at the gym involving weights and machines that you cannot do at home. When considering core movements, I like to differentiate crunch variations (upper body leaning forward) from swings (legs going up). Weighted crunches are a hallmark ab exercise at gyms. Most gyms have an ab crunch machine. If yours doesn't, you can do cable crunches to simulate the movement. Most gyms have a leg swing station, too. You can also do these on a pull-up bar, though the movement is more difficult that way. While less common, some gyms have oblique machines you can utilize. More common are decline benches for sit-ups and twists (be extra careful not to expose your spine when doing twisting movements; stay controlled). Hyper extensions are a simple low-back exercise designed to engage your posterior chain. Big powerlifting movements like squats and deadlifts will do wonders for your core, as well.
Best Ab Workouts at Home
If you don't want to pay for a gym membership or go everyday, here's how to get abs at home. As with our gym example, the first movement will be crunch variations. Most of the time, this will be a standard crunch/sit-up or weighted crunch/sit-up. If you don't have access to a pull-up bar to do leg swings, you can do leg raises, scissor kicks, or reverse crunches instead. For your obliques, side crunches, Russian twists, and penguin crunches are all good variations. Planks are a great way to engage a large portion of your core, while the superman exercise will focus on your back. Mountain climbers and basic jogging will engage your core, too.
How Long Does It Take To Get Abs
The time it takes to get abs you can be proud of depends on your current physical progress and ultimate goal. If you're kind of active and simply want to see your upper abs, then it won't take very long at all. If you're obese and want a full eight pack, then you'll need to develop a long-term plan. As with most fitness-related goals, many people search for shortcuts to get shredded. The following will be unrealistic, but I'll address some of the most highly searched time periods to get abs.
How to Get Abs in a Month
This is a realistic time frame for average people seeking results they'll be able to notice (read that again, as I'm not saying you'll be able to "get abs in one month"). Even if you've been training for years already, you should not expect to look like a fitness model or anything crazy. However, you can make good progress in this time period. If you're new to training, start with some bodyweight core movements to get acclimated and incorporate weights as you progress (adding weights will help you gain muscle more quickly than with simply your bodyweight). I would suggest training 4 to 5 days per week, alternating movements to avoid burnout. If you go intense one session, take a step back the next. As you train, stick to a strict diet (I strongly encourage you to use the flexible dieting article mentioned above). You should have no problem losing 5lb to 10lb while gaining core strength that you'll begin to notice throughout your training.
How to Get Abs in 2 Weeks
Two weeks is an incredibly short period of time to make meaningful progress for anything fitness related. Even one month is very short. When it comes to getting abs, most of your visible progress will come from losing weight. In two weeks, you shouldn't expect to lose more than 5lb without sacrificing your muscular development. If you still want to give it a go, create a similar plan to the one listed in the one month section (perhaps slightly more aggressive). Again, you're not going to make much progress, but it seems like a lot of people attempt some sort of crash course to get abs.
How to Get Abs in 1 Week
If anybody is selling you on the idea that you can get abs in one week, kindly tell them to kick rocks. One week is barely enough time to get accustomed to an exercise, let alone see progress. This largely applies to the two-week plan, as well, but one week is simply absurd. At least you have time to cut a few pounds in the two-week time frame.
How to Get Lean?
Getting lean is all about losing weight while having muscle underneath. To lose weight without experiencing muscle atrophy, follow the advice in my article on If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM). To gain muscle, check out my free powerbuilding program.
How Long Does It Take To Get a Six Pack?
The length of time it takes to get a six pack will depend on your current physique. If you've lifted for a long time and have a relatively low bodyfat percentage, it won't take very long. If you're an average person who doesn't workout or are obese, then develop a long-term plan spanning months to years.
Best Supplements for Abs?
There are no special supplements you should be taking for abs. Many supplement companies sell fat burners for abs, supplements for cutting, and a bunch of other nonsense. Your core is made up of muscles like every other muscle in your body. Treat it as you would any other muscle group. You can read about what supplements to take for lifting here.
Should I Workout My Abs Everyday?
While you can workout your core everyday, I would suggest taking an off day between workouts. As with other muscle groups, it's important to schedule recovery days. You may be able to double up without issue by doing a heavy weighted ab day followed by a light at-home ab day. The second day in that kind of program should be considered an active-recovery or mobility session. I personally like to run a pull, push, legs lifting plan that incorporates core movements on pull days.