Wherever you are now, to get a six pack you can be proud of and amaze your friends with, you need to get the basics right before you even think about moving on to the more advanced principles. To get started were going to take a look at your diet, your cardio, your training, your recovery, and how to keep your motivation. So whether you’re an exercise newbie or workout veteran, the following six pack basics will give you something you can use straight away.
1. Your Diet
The word ‘diet’ has a lot of negativity associated with it for various reasons, the most guilty of which is probably that having a good diet is often confused with being ON a diet. Being ON a diet usually means starving yourself, apart from when you’re allowed whichever fad or secret ingredient the clueless celebrity or previously unknown ‘expert’ permits.
Compare this to having a healthy diet, which means 6 or 7 equally sized meals a day consisting of as much variety as realistically possible.
You might have no desire whatsoever to be a body builder, but like any athlete they’ll tell you that their diet is just as, if not more important, than what they do in the gym.
So the basics of a good six-pack diet are:
- Find out how many calories you need each day then divide the result by 6 so you can eat 6, equally sized meals spaced regularly throughout the day (click here for more)
- Eat the correct proportions of protein, carbohydrates and fat (click here for more)
- Never eat less than your Basal Metabolic Rate (click here for more)
- Drink plenty of water (click here for more)
2. Do The Right Type Of Cardio
Even if you’re not that interested in being fit, cardio training has far more benefits than allowing you to use the stairs if you miss the elevator without having a heart attack. Believe it or not, if you do the right type it can actually help with muscle growth.
Let’s start with the wrong types of cardio, the worst of which is training in ‘The Fat Burning Zone’. The idea behind this is that we burn more fat at 60% – 70% of our maximum heart rate, so we should only work in that zone if we want to burn fat. Not only is this wrong, it’s counter-productive, which is why the fact it’s recommended by most instructors in most gyms is a pet hate of mine.
The other type of cardio commonly done is steady-state aerobic training. In other words – jogging. Whether it’s done for a certain time or a certain distance, it’s far from the best way to burn calories, burn fat, or improve fitness. Though it might well burn off some of the muscle you’ve worked hard to build.
The only thing running for a certain time or distance is good for is getting used to running for a certain time or distance. Instead to burn fat, increase metabolism, increase insulin resistance, increase tolerance to lactic acid and plenty more besides I recommend HIIT training, which stands for High Intensity Interval Training.
Interval training means you break the cardio into two repeating phases. A recovery phase and a work phase. In the recovery phase you give about 50% of your maximum effort and in the work phase give as close to 100% as you can effort as you can. In other words, give it everything you’ve got!
The time for each can vary with goals and fitness levels, but you want to be aiming towards 30 seconds work and 30 seconds recovery for 20 minutes.
3. Train To Build Muscle
As I said above, to get a great six pack you need to lower your body fat and build up your abdominals. But the way a lot of people train (by this I mean the way a lot of guys train), they’re producing stronger muscles, not necessarily bigger muscles. And no they’re not the same thing. I have personal experience of strength training enabling me to lift more, while my muscles got smaller and my six pack less defined.
Without going into detail (we’re just covering the basics here), a strength-training set is usually only a couple of reps and lasts less than 20 seconds, while a muscle-building set is more like 8 sets and should last around 40 seconds.
Also, while we’re on the subject of muscles, the way to get a six pack isn’t just to train your six pack. If you’re already working out this (hopefully) doesn’t apply, but if you’re new to all of this it might not make sense for me to tell you to train your legs, back, chest and the rest of your muscles. There are basically two very good reasons why you should though. First, training big muscles groups such as your legs does all sorts of beneficial things to the rest of your body. Second, you might get a lot of attention if you’ve got washboard abs with arms and legs like matchsticks, but it won’t be the right kind!
Last but definitely not least, all the hard work done in the kitchen and the gym would be wasted without rest. Well not quite, but not getting sufficient sleep will definitely effect your results.
Although it might sound a little strange when you first hear this, but a six pack isn’t made in the gym it’s made while you sleep. Working out actually damages muscle, which is why you can feel sore for the next day or two after a good session. But the right diet provides what’s necessary for the body to repair and strengthen itself, as long as you get enough sleep. For most people that’s about 8 hours, but you might need even more.
Getting enough rest also means taking at least one day off from exercise each week, especially if you’re training with sufficient intensity they way I recommend. Not only that, but every 12 weeks take a full week off to let your muscles, your nervous system and your mind recover. If you train for the right amount of time you might think you’re not training hard enough to need this, but not only will you notice the difference when you return from a break, you’ll go a long way to preventing over-training. The effects of which could set you back for weeks.
Finally there are the rests you take between sets, which varies with your goal. For strength training this could be as much as 5 or even 7 minutes, but for those of us wanting to get a six pack it’s more like 30 – 60 seconds. The reasons behind this will be explained in other articles.
Unfortunately, knowing what to eat and how to train most effectively is of little use if you can’t motivate yourself to actually do any of it. Whether this is to eat the right food or eat the right amount, exercise enough, exercise correctly, or just to get enough rest!
Fortunately you’re not the first to have had these problems, so there are numerous ideas out there to help.
When it comes to diet, the main issues generally faced are to do with eating the wrong foods (junk), eating too much or too little, or eating the right amount but in too few meals.
To get around this try these quick tips.
- Have set times to eat and stick to this as much as possible. For example, have breakfast at 7am and eat every two and a half hours until 10pm. Set a reminder on your phone if necessary.
- To make sure your meals consist of the right things, plan each of them out a least a day in advance and buy what you’ll need, then prepare them all as much as is practical the day before.
- The best way to avoid snacking on junk food, especially when you’re tired after work, is not to have any of it in the house!
When it comes to working out, the problems and solutions are similar.
- Know what days you’re going to be working out and what time you’re going to start. Stick to this without exception.
- Have your workouts planned at least a week in advance (as they should really be anyway). That way you know exactly what exercises you’re going to do and are less likely to change them for something easier if you’re tired or just not in the mood.
- As well as planning your workout, know what weight you’re going to lift for how many reps and sets. Again this helps to stop lazy or unmotivated training.
- The simplest and in my opinion one of the most effective methods is to just get up and head for the gym. The next thing you know you’re there and to turn around and go home without training just seems silly. Then it’s just a matter of picking up that first weight and once you do that, you’ll feel better and before you know it you’ll be finished.
You now have more than enough to be getting on with and the Dream Body Six Pack website has far more information available that can answer any questions you might have. And if it doesn’t, it will do very soon! But if you just can’t wait and want it all nicely packaged in ebook, audio book, or movie form, then check out these products.