Six-pack abs are the most coveted yet difficult fitness goal to attain for most people.
“Abs” is a term used to describe the rectus abdomens, which is a segmented muscle on the front of your abdomen between your lower ribs and pelvis.
When a person is very lean, their abs are more visible, giving them the appearance of a six-pack. Defined abs are seen as the epitome of fitness.
But how does one achieve six-pack abs and can anyone get them?
What’s the best way to get abs?
The best way to get abs is through a consistent and meticulous diet and exercise. Crunches, sit-ups, and planks have their place, but they’re not the key to getting a six-pack. Abs exercises have very little to do with getting definition in the abs. Your abs are located on the front of your abdomen underneath your skin and fat layers.
The only way for your abs muscles to show through the skin is by removing the layer of fat that covers them.
Therefore, the best way to get abs is to lose fat in your belly, meaning diet and training are the keys to revealing your long-lost six-pack.
Losing stubborn belly fat comes down to burning more calories than you take in. You can train all day long but if you consume more calories than you burn, you won’t lose fat.
To ensure you stay in a calorie deficit, you need to be meticulous about your diet. The best diet for abs is a diet of mostly lean proteins, leafy green vegetables, healthy fats, and a small number of carbs.
Whole foods that are minimally processed are packed full of the nutrients, fiber, and protein you need to maintain a calorie deficit while still having the energy to train.
To find out how many calories and macronutrients you need to meet your fat-loss goals, consult a macro calculator.
A macro calculator will tell you how much of each food group and calories you need based on your height, weight, and age.
While these measurements are based on averages, they are often accurate. Being meticulous about sticking to your calorie and macronutrient intake is important.
Remember, you can’t out-train a bad diet. If you want abs, you’ll need to ditch your late-night junk-food snacking habits.
What’s the best exercise for getting abs? The best exercise for getting abs is any exercise that burns a lot of calories.
Yep, you guessed it, that would be cardio. While cardio is hardly anybody’s favorite form of exercise, it’s the best form of exercise for burning calories quickly.
A cardio workout is any kind of movement that gets your heart rate elevated for any amount of time. The higher your heart rate goes, the more calories you burn.
For example, walking burns on average 200 calories per hour while running for the same amount of time burns closer to 600 calories.
There are two different types of cardio: steady-state cardio and high-intensity cardio.
Steady-state cardio involves doing moderate cardio exercise for 30 minutes or more. During moderate cardio, your heart rate should rise no more than 50-70% of your maximum heart rate.
High-intensity cardio involves cardio exercise that raises your heart rate to 70-90% of your max heart rate. High-intensity cardio should be done in short intervals (a few minutes or less) followed by short rest periods.
Both forms of cardio are beneficial and can be performed based on personal preference. For best results, cardio should be incorporated into your workout schedule at least 3 days a week.
If you want to get an accurate heart rate reading, consider purchasing a heart rate monitor.
Strength training, or resistance training, is important for building strong muscles and bones. Strength training has multiple benefits, including toned muscles and a strong core.
Why is strength training one of the best ways to get abs? Strength training, or resistance training, builds muscle mass, which is metabolically active tissue. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn.
On average, muscle burns 7 to 10 calories per pound a day, while fat burns only 2 to 3 calories per pound. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn daily, even while at rest.
When you are trying to lean down and build a six-pack, the more fat you can burn is crucial. Building more muscle will help you get there faster.
Although doing abs exercises are the least effective ways to get a six-pack, they don’t hurt. No, doing a million crunches daily won’t be enough to chisel out your abs.
As discussed, the key to visible abs is a low body fat percentage, which is best achieved through diet and exercise. However, abs exercises will strengthen your core muscles and make them more visible when you’re already at a low body fat percentage.
In short, crunches aren’t entirely useless, but your diet and training play a much larger part. Core work shouldn’t be disregarded entirely as a strong core is beneficial to your overall fitness.
But don’t count on sit-ups or crunches to get you the defined abs you’ve always dreamed of.
The Bottom Line
Getting the coveted six-pack abs takes time and dedication. How long does it take to get abs? That depends on where you’re starting from.
If you have a lot of fat to lose, it will take you longer than someone starting at a lower body fat percentage.
Keep in mind every person is different and how quickly you can achieve a six-pack depends on your body type.
Some people may never get a six-pack, and that’s okay too. Visible abs are nice to have, but they don’t necessarily gauge how fit a person.
A healthy diet followed by a consistent training program is essential for getting abs and living a long, healthy life.