There are a million columns in magazines, articles on the internet, programs on TV, and products for sale all promising a clear path to a “perfect 6-pack,” and most of them do one of three things: offer a general piece of advice that doesn’t really amount to much instruction, like, “cut carbs,” try to sell you some piece of expensive “wonder” equipment for an absurd amount of money, or it informs you of only one variable to the equation when there are really three. Most of them also lack specifics, which is why I decided to write this article. The path to abs is very simple. Not easy, but simple. If the equation to 6-pack abs is X+Y+Z=AMAZING ABS, here are your variables, in order of importance:
X = Eat Clean
The specifics: You do not need to eat zero carbohydrates or starve yourself. You need to follow my basic rule: no more soda/alcohol, no more fast food, and no more sweets. Of course, there are more intricate things you can do like eat only whole wheat breads and eat lots of vegetables (both of which I recommend), but the three aforementioned will do. Buy a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips (used for baking) so that when you get a sweet tooth, you can “cheat” by munching on them. This will cure your craving and leave you feeling proud you didn’t completely abandon the plan. It is understandable that fast food is necessary at times, but there are plenty of alternatives on the menu in current times to the triple stacked burger with fries. Choose wisely if you must go.
Y = Run
The specifics: In order to burn the fat covering your hiding 6-pack, you need to do cardio. I suggest running, as it has been proven to be the single most effective way to burn fat and burn it fast. If you are not, in general, a “runner,” then I suggest you start on this plan:
(all runs done at your fastest pace)
Monday (M): 1 mile
Wednesday (W): 1 mile
Friday (F): 1 mile
Repeat for week 2
Week 3, DON’T RUN, there is a high risk for stress fractures doing this critical week.
Weeks 4 and 5: 2 miles, MWF
Weeks 6 and 7: 3 miles, MWF
Weeks 8 and 9: 2 miles M, 3 miles W, 4 miles R, 3 miles F
Weeks 9 and 10: 4 miles M, 2 miles T, 3 miles W, 4miles R, 3 miles F
Weeks 11 and 12: 4 miles M, 5 miles T, 4 miles W, 3miles R, 2 miles F
Continue to increase mileage as you see fit, but you get the picture. If you are already a decent runner (i.e. can run 2 miles at an 8:30 minute pace at least), then start week one doing 2 miles in place of 1 mile, and increase mileage accordingly. I suggest progressing until running 5-6 miles every day M-F.
Z = Workout your abs
The specifics: Of course, you’ve got to have abs in order to show them. Here are two circuit workouts that will blast your abs and have your core feeling very strong and tight. You should alternate circuits by day, either working out every day M-F and taking Saturday and Sunday off, or working out every other day.
On both circuits, you should use a stop watch (most cell phones have one built in). Start the first exercise as you start the watch. At 30 seconds, switch to the next exercise. Continue doing that every 30 seconds for 12 minutes, or 6 minutes if you can’t last the entire 12.
Ab Circuit 1:
Ins and Outs (lying on a bench or the ground, sticking legs out off of bench or 6 inches above the ground, bring your knees in to your chest, then extend back out; repeat)
Lying Fold (lay on the ground, arms fully extended above head and legs extended straight out, everything resting on the ground. Then, keeping arms straight and legs MOSTLY straight, bring your hands to your toes, creating a virtual V with your body. Return to the ground and repeat.
Ab Circuit 2:
Russian Twist (With or without weight in your hands, sit down with your feet against a wall, legs mostly extended with knees slightly bent. Lean back at about a 45 degree angle from the ground, and keep your back straight. Put your hands together and twist from side to side, touching your hands to the ground next to you)
Hanging Leg Raises (Do knee raises if you aren’t able to do full leg raises)
Machine crunch (Hook a rope to the high pulley and pull a bench up. Sit on the end of the bench, grab the rope, and pull it down using your abs until your elbows hit your knees. Pick a suitable (difficult but doable) weight.
That’s it! Like I said, the path is clear and simple, but it is not easy. If you do stick with it though, it will definitely come. Good luck on realistically attaining your goal of 6-pack abs!