The Truth About Developing Six Pack Abs [Ab Training Tips]

Ab DevelopmentAs an athlete, it is very important to have a strong core. You don’t necessarily have to have an awesome six pack to be functional in your sport, but hey, who doesn’t like to have great abs?

In this post I’m going to walk you through exactly how to develop a six pack, dispel a few myths, and give you some great exercises that will make the process easier for you.

So here’s the ugly truth: Abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym. 

You can have insanely strong abdominal muscles without having a six pack, or even a four pack! As humans, we all have abs – they’re just sometimes covered up in fat and therefore we can’t see them!

If you want a killer six pack, there are tons of exercises that will help you achieve your goal, but you need to eat right in order to see that washboard-type physique that everyone dreams of!

So that’s step #1. Make sure that your diet is clean in order to maximize your results. A myth that floats around the fitness world is that in order to become more “defined,” you need to do high reps. So instead of doing heavy weight for 8-10 reps, you should do lighter weight for 20-30 reps. This is a MYTH!

It doesn’t matter whether you choose to do high reps or low reps. It all comes down to breaking down your muscles, tearing fibers, and then feeding them the nutrients required in order to re-build them.

If you’re looking to get “cut,” “defined,” or you really want to show off your abs, you’ll need to be in a caloric deficit. Simply put, you need to burn more calories than you consume. This is how you shed body fat and bring your ab muscles (or any other muscle group) out.

You have to be careful with getting caught up in always having perfect abs, especially if you’re looking to put on muscle mass in other areas. In order to gain mass, size, and weight, you need to be in a caloric surplus versus a caloric deficit. When you eat more calories than normal, it’s gonna be tough to keep your abs looking as good as before.

Trying to achieve both muscle gain and fat loss at the same time is not physically possible. 

Don’t worry though. Just try to workout in phases, either bulking, cutting, or maintaining. If you are bulking, expect a little more body fat all around. If you are cutting, really focus on your diet, eating clean, doing a bit more cardio, etc.

Another myth that I hear all the time is related to “spot reduction.” This concept makes me laugh. Some people believe that if you’re looking to lose some fat around your belly, you can just do some core work and hop on a treadmill to spot reduce the area. LIES! Plain and simple, that’s just not the way your body works.

If you are in a caloric deficit, you will lose weight all the way around your body, not just in one area. It all comes down to your diet, as previously mentioned.

Alright, so now that we’ve dispelled some myths and you know a little bit more about the diet aspect, here are some techniques and tips you can use to help you develop a sweet six pack:

#1: Don’t train your abs everyday. Just like any other muscle, your abs need adequate time to rest. You’ll be tearing down your fibers as you train, so allow them enough time to recover and grow! I recommend training them twice a week.

#2: Try to train your abs after you’re finished with the rest of your workout. That way you’ll be able to exert maximum effort and give “everything you have left in the tank.” I also recommend working on your abs with an empty stomach because you’ll be able to get a better contraction and squeeze at the top, improving your gains. 

#3: Learn how to do stomach vacuums. This exercise will help you work your deep core, also known as your TVA (transversus abdominis muscle). This isn’t a muscle that is visible, but it is critical in developing a great set of abs. The TVA is responsible for pulling your abdominals back and keeping them tight toward your body. Nobody wants to have abs that bulge forward! This is a wonderful exercise for creating “v-lines,” or the adonis belt that goes from your obliques down to your groin.

Try different abdominal exercises out and see what works best for you. Not everyone’s body is the same and you will react differently to a particular exercise than I will.

Here are some exercises that I use that have really helped me boost my progress:

  • Stomach vacuums
  • Hanging leg raises
  • Crunches on a medicine ball
  • V-ups
  • Weighted decline sit ups
  • Planks
  • Cable cruches
  • Jack knives
  • In and outs
  • Alternating toe touches

There are plenty of exercises out there and you can find even more with a simple search, but if you hit your abs hard with these few basic ones you’ll be well on your way. Aim for doing 20-30 reps and about 3 sets per exercise, twice per week.

Eat clean, train mean, and there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be able to develop six pack abs!