When summer is in full swing, the desire for those six-pack abs intensifies. But it's hard to see results if you aren’t taking the right approach.
The secret to a defined core involves a holistic strategy rather than hundreds of crunches daily. You need to consider diet and other fat-burning exercises, as well as core training.
Many people believe to get chiseled abs, you need to do intense ab workouts every time you work out. But the truth is your muscles need time to recover, so overtraining them is futile.
To help you achieve the beach-bod you are after, we have provided some expert tips on training your core. Follow these steps, and those abs will be rippling in no time!
1. Assess your diet
Eating the correct diet to build muscle is just as important as your workouts. Without eating the right things, you will not see results. If you want to achieve a visible six-pack, you will need to lose body fat by remaining in a calorie deficit 1.
This means consuming fewer calories than you use, so the body resorts to burning stored fat for energy. Fruit and vegetables are low in calories and are great for assisting with weight loss 2.
A good muscle-building diet should also comprise plenty of protein, such as chicken, fish, nuts, legumes, and dairy. This important macronutrient provides the essential amino acids required to build and repair muscle tissue after workouts.
You should also try to limit your intake of sugary or processed foods, as these can cause weight gain and have other adverse effects on health.
2. Do cardio
Cardio exercise is a great way to burn extra fat to help those abs shine through. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) involves short bursts of intense activity and is one of the most effective ways to lose weight. It also boosts your metabolism to keep the calorie-burning ticking, helping ensure you remain in the all-important calorie deficit.
According to one study, HIIT workouts can burn 28.5% more fat than moderate-intensity exercises like walking 3.
3. Train your core
Now it’s time to focus on your core. To build strong, muscular abs, you’ll need to design a comprehensive training routine that includes a variety of ab strengthening exercises in all planes of motion (forward and backward, side to side, twisting or rotational). In each of these planes, you should perform static and movement-based exercises, as together, these strengthen stability and motion in your abs.
Static-based exercises involve resisting a force and trying to stay still. One example is the plank, one of the best exercises you can do for core strength! Many plank variations target different muscles in your core, so mastering this simple exercise is essential.
Movement-based exercises involve moving in a full range of motion against resistance. These include things like sit-ups, Russian twists, and leg lifts.
4. Strength train
Focusing on building muscle in other areas of your body may seem counterintuitive when your goal is to get defined abs, but increasing your overall muscle mass is key for maximum results. This is because muscle is your body’s primary fat burner, which burns more calories at rest than fat.
Strength training is a great way to achieve lean muscle mass. It also can ramp up your metabolism and increase calorie burning for up to 48 hours after a workout because your body is using energy to repair damaged muscles 4.
5. Take a pre-workout
A pre-workout can provide numerous benefits to your athletic performance and maximize results. Pre Lab Pro contains scientifically proven ingredients, such as caffeine, creatine, and beta-alanine, that help boost your energy, focus, and endurance so you can work out harder and longer.
Pre-workouts also optimize recovery after a workout, ensuring your muscles have all the required nutrients to grow bigger and stronger and that your body is topped up on all its essential resources.
The Importance of Recovery
When it comes to ab workouts or any workouts for that matter, the amount of exercise you do doesn’t directly correlate to the results.
It is often believed that to get a shredded body, you must work out every day. When actually, it’s important to take rest days in between workouts to allow your body to recover properly. No need to feel guilty!
Your abdominals are just like any other muscle in your body. They need time to repair, rebuild, and strengthen. Exercise also depletes the muscles’ glycogen energy stores, so leaving adequate time between ab workouts allows these to be replenished.
Research suggests the optimal rest time for muscles is between 48-72 hours, depending on the intensity 5. As such, you should aim to work out your abs 2-3 times a week for the best results. You can always do other exercises around these workouts that don’t involve directly targeting the ab muscles.
If you don’t allow yourself rest days, your performance will be compromised, and you risk overworking your muscles, which can lead to muscle pain, damage, or injury.
Getting toned and defined abs requires much more than simply performing core strengthening exercises, although these are also important.
To achieve the best results, combine ab workouts with cardio, strength training, and a well-balanced diet full of protein, fruit, and vegetables. You can also take a pre-workout like Pre Lab Pro to kick your performance up a notch!
Recovery between workouts is essential to allow your muscles time to recover and repair. To get results and to prevent overtraining, aim for ab workouts 2-3 times a week. These should include various core strengthening exercises carried out in all planes of motion, as well as static and motion-based.
- Strasser, B., A. Spreitzer, and P. Haber. "Fat loss depends on energy deficit only, independently of the method for weight loss." Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism 51.5 (2007): 428-432.
- Dreher, Mark L., and Nikki A. Ford. "A comprehensive critical assessment of increased fruit and vegetable intake on weight loss in women." Nutrients 12.7 (2020): 1919.
- Viana, Ricardo Borges, et al. "Is interval training the magic bullet for fat loss? A systematic review and meta-analysis comparing moderate-intensity continuous training with high-intensity interval training (HIIT)." British journal of sports medicine (2019).
- Vella, Chantal A., and Len Kravitz. "Exercise after-burn: A research update." IDEA Fitness Journal 1.5 (2004): 42-47.
- Monteiro, Estêvão R., et al. "Effects of different between test rest intervals in reproducibility of the 10-repetition maximum load test: a pilot study with recreationally resistance trained men." International journal of exercise science 12.4 (2019): 932.