6 packs are awesome. For many, they are considered the hallmark of a great body (be it male or female). However, for generations, there has been an egregious misconception regarding the process in gaining six pack abs.
Growing up, my parents and trainers all told me that if I wanted a six pack, I need to do sit ups. And so I did—every night I busted out 300 like I was some kind of shrimp in water.
As I got older, workout magazines and articles told me that sit ups aren’t enough—If I really wanted washboard abs I needed to do plank holds, leg flutters, mason twists, and leg raises. And so for 4 years I did those at a gym almost every workout.
However, until recently, I never was able to get that perfectly chiseled midsection that would make heads turn at the beach. I mean, under the right lighting and circumstances, you could kinda see I had abs, but if the sky was overcast or the lighting was too bright, my stomach lines would be washed away into nothingness.
This was weird because I knew I had a strong core. I could hold a 5 minute plank with good form, perform 20 toes to bar with perfect form, and bust out dragonflags for a full minute. Yet, I still wasn’t defined.
This infuriated me, as I wanted a stomach that was ripped under any condition. Too bright at the beach? Don’t matter, heads are still going to turn. Cloudy day? Sorry ‘bout it, I still look great.
This last year, my midsection has evolved from “ok he is cut” to “damn he is ripped!”
How did I do it? The answer is a mixture of calisthenics and high intensity interval training (HIIT).
You can be a master of every type of ab exercise in the book—leg flutters, planks, mason twists, and still not have a six pack. Google image the guy that holds the world record for plank at something like 4 hours—he does not have a six pack! See, all these exercises do is strengthen you core, which is not synonymous with gaining an aesthetic six pack. Physiologically, strengthening you core involves building the muscles around your abdominals, obliques, and lower back. You can have the strongest core in the world, but if it is covered by a thick layer of fat, you will look like you have nothing.
The fat around your belly is preventing you from achieving god like abs.
The absolute best way to do this via exercise is through High Intensity Interval Training. These scientific articles agree.
HIIT has been shown to burn almost twice as many calories as running and increase your metabolism two-fold. It addition to its fat-burning characteristics, if you use basic callisthenic movements when doing HIIT, you can strengthen muscle by breaking down muscle fibers in an extremely efficient way.
You see, implementing HIIT is one of the only ways to simultaneously lose belly fat while gaining muscle. It is what stepped up my abdominal gains this year and you can use it too!
However, let it be known that maintaining a solid workout routine is only half of the picture in achieving a 6 pack. The other half is composed of eating healthy, nutrient rich foods and staying away from junk food. You can workout all day long-- if you eat high-fat, processed foods all day, you will find it hard to shed that belly fat that your body wants to hold on to. For more information on this, head on over to our nutrition section.
Once you establish a consistent nutrition plan, the easiest way I have found to work HIIT in my workouts is via a TABATA timer. Basically, it involves doing an exercise for 20 seconds while taking 10 seconds rest 8 times.
In order to do it, simply download a TABATA timer on your smart phone, or visit this webpage for an easy to use one: www.tabatatimer.com
1. Push ups
2. Alternating Jump Lunges
3. Pull Ups
4. Jump Squats
5. Inverted Rows
6. Leg Lifts
I try to do this workout at least once every 2 weeks, and let me tell you I am always sore the next day. Grab a friend, hit the park and get at it! Doing this with a partner is extremely motivating and you can push each other not to slow down. It is easier to chisel away at those abs with two people!