Want to know how to get a six pack? The one thing you need is not special gym equipment or a new-and-improved fitness supplement. The main thing you will need to have defined abs that actually show is persistence. Nothing beats using the best workouts and having a healthy diet, over a prolonged period. Putting the effort in will make you a leaner, stronger person soon enough but saying this, there are a few things that can speed up the process.
We've put together a six-pack of tips that will skyrocket your efforts in making those abdominal muscle humps visible to everyone. Surprisingly enough, most of the list consists of non-exercise related tips, because as they say, abs are made in the gym and revealed in the kitchen. You need to lose belly fat to reveal a six pack. You can also start with the self explanatory best abs exercises for beginners.
Then, so you can feel the burn, we have our most popular ever six-pack abs workout from Blok's head PT Jermaine Johnson – you can jump straight to that from this handy link.
There's not much tech that's essential for six-pack abs – even weights aren't necessarily needed – but we have also included a guide to gear you might find useful.
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No matter what everyone is saying, building muscles is not rocket science. You only need to adhere to a few rules and you don't necessarily need loads of equipment either.
This is especially true for abs. You can use dumbbells, kettlebells or resistance bands to provide extra resistance during your abs workouts, but most of the best abs workout routines recommend bodyweight only exercises.
However, two things that can assist you in your pursuit to better understand your fitness needs are a fitness watch and an abs roller. These old-school devices are having a resurgence in popularity because they work.
And if you bought an ab roller, make sure you check out our best core exercise guide and train the whole of your core, not just the abs. It will help you alleviate back pain and improve your sleep, too.
A watch provides continuous heart rate tracking so you can keep your heart rate in the correct zone during your workouts – usually for abs workouts, this is not an especially high heart-rate. The accompanying apps will help you analyse your performance even further and more importantly, keep a log of your previous workouts so you can have a sense of progression.
1. Do some abs exercises (almost) every day
Goes without saying, the best way to get a six pack is to actually work your abs. Let it be the hardest abs exercise or the most fun core exercise, as long as you spend some time chiselling your abs almost every day, you'll see results soon enough.
Abs are high load-bearing muscles, much like calves, so the usual hypertrophy levels don't apply here. With abs, instead of going for the 8-12 reps, aim for 15-20 reps in each set.
As well as doing higher reps, another way to ensure your abs are growing is to work all areas of it. This means working the upper abs with crunches, the lower abs with flutter kicks and the obliques with Russian twists.
You'll see results ridiculously soon doing two exercises only: ab rollouts and mountain climbers – see our best bodyweight exercises list. Both work a range of muscles but mainly target your abs and your core. Rollers are dirt cheap and they are one of the most underrated bits of fitness equipment, ever.
2. Consume the right amount of calories
The way to find out your maintenance calorie level is to measure your intake by logging what you eat using a calorie counting app like myfitnesspal and keeping track of your weight. Maintenance calorie is the amount that keeps your weight at a steady level.
Now, even if you aren't overweight, you will need to go slightly under this in order to lose weight and for your abs to start showing. Reason being, for abs to really pop, you will need to have seriously low body fat percentage. For women, we are talking about 16-17%. For men, sub-10%.
Even if you go down to that level during the summer months, where your abs can actually be on display, it is recommended not to keep fat levels too low for a long period of time if you aren't a top athlete.
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3. Cut back on added sugar/salt
You should cut back on added sugary stuff anyway, even if you aren't trying to get them abs out. Consuming food with high added sugar content can cause a range of illnesses even short term, let alone on the long run.
Not only that, but excess sugar (and carbs) get stored away in your body, hiding your abs behind layers of soft visceral fat. Men are especially susceptible to gaining weight around the hip area first, so gents, say goodbye to all those Mars bars if you want to have a six pack!
Another item on the bad food ingredients list you should avoid is too much sodium. Eating too much of it will not only result in high blood pressure levels but it also makes your body retain more water. And that, as we know, is not how one gets a ticket to Flat Stomach Land.
4. Swap out processed carbs and avoid bad fats
I personally know people who refused to eat at a restaurant because they said they can't serve fries that evening (the fryer being broken). Not only it is very said that fried white potatoes need to be eaten with everything but they are also high in both bad carbs and vegetable fat.
Not saying everyone should transition from eating fries to gobbling up raw broccoli overnight. Even just swapping half the fries to something more healthy can help you effectively cut back on calories, effortlessly.
Let's say you have 100 grams of fries as a side. Instead, have 50 grams and have another 50 grams of vegetables. You are still eating 100 grams of food, but you are also cutting back on all bad things without eating less.
Not to mention, swapping fries for even just baked potatoes or even better, baked sweet potatoes, can make a huge difference too. Gradually, you can swap your 100 grams of fries to 100 grams of quinoa; the latter is a million times healthier.
5. Add more protein to your diet
Adding more protein to your diet can help you build muscles faster and it can also help you lose weight more efficiently.
Some easy swaps can make the transition to a more protein rich diet easier. It's all about planning your snacking right. Instead of having a chocolate bar, have a protein shake or a protein bar. Again, you aren't eating less, you are eating better.
By eating better, you are fuelling your body with nutrients it needs, so it won't have to struggle with breaking down all the excess carb and fats. This will leave your body in a state when it can tend to building and repairing muscles.
6. Try an abs belt
These things may seem ridiculous, but they do have an effect. Most notably, they help those who already have toned abs get more toned. Our top pick for its mix of affordability and usefulness is the Slendertone range. This uses convenient gel pads to provide the electrical 'circuit' between the belt and your stomach and while you can tell it is working, it's not outright painful.
Alternatively there is always SixPad as used by Christiano Ronaldo. Now you can say what you like about Christiano, but he sure as hell has a chiselled physique – especially when you consider he's now, what, 35? 57? 100?
We once met the makers of SixPad and their rep literally laughed at Slendertone because it 'wasn't painful enough'. Supposedly, SixPad uses a more powerful electrical current, for those who are truly serious about their abs belting experience. We suppose there might be well be some truth in that, but given that we found Slendertone pretty damn intense, we were way too wussy to try SixPad.
Best gear for six-pack abs
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Best workout for six-pack abs
How to get a six pack is one of the most searched things on Google, and we're here to supply some answers. Or, more accurately, Jermaine Johnson is. He's head PT at London's finest: BLOK, and knows many a trick for obtaining a killer washboard stomach via the most cutting edge abs workouts.
The sad truth is, today's social media-obsessed society has been duped into thinking that every young, beautiful creature has a belly that's seemingly made of steel. But those rippling abs take a lot of hard work, both in the kitchen and in the gym.
Get a six-pack… or just a flatter stomach
The reason we mention the kitchen is this: your body fat percentage will need to dip below 10 per cent before a six-pack even begins to show. That's why we'd recommend most people content themselves with healthy dieting and regular, fun workouts to obtain flatter abs rather than going all-out for a six pack.
We'd never advise to work solely on your stomach in search of 'popping' abs, as this would be a waste of time, so weaving this workout into a more rounded fitness regime will not only reap dividends in the gut department, it will also make you a generally fitter, healthier and happier person.
"To gain abs of steel requires a lot of work," warns Jermaine Johnson, head personal trainer at trendy London gym chain BLOK – an abs expert who's also kindly told us his top tip for getting a six pack.
"You need to target and work your abs in a variety of ways but you should also aim to build your internal core strength, as well as the external muscles for maximum results," he says.
Follow the workout below and heed the following advice on nutrition to begin the journey towards a ridiculously cut stomach.
Abs are, perhaps more than any other muscle group, at the mercy of a strict nutritional plan and achieving visible results will inevitably mean cutting out lots of the fun stuff in a regular diet.
"We all have abs but it is our body fat that hides them away," explains Jermaine. "To reduce body fat, you'll need to eat plenty of protein, reduce the number of carbs in the diet - but don't eliminate them, as you need fuel for workouts - and introduce healthy fats, lots of fibre and vegetables rich in the nutrients needed to promote muscle growth.
"Most importantly, you will also need to keep away from sugar, so reducing or completely cutting out sweets, processed foods and alcohol will definitely help lose the belly fat and reveal your abs," he adds.
There are plenty of good resources online that can assist in mapping out a good low fat diet, while offering some recipes to help in the kitchen.
We've also got a great selection of top supplements, protein powders and training snacks that make it a little easier to get more of the right stuff inside your body.
How to perform to the killer abs workout
"The workout below is focussed on the external core by performing a variety of different crunches targeting the upper, middle and lower abs as well as the obliques," Jermaine explains.
"We will also work the internal core (the deeper ab muscles), so you will perform a variety of different planks to fire up those deeper muscles that lay the groundwork for a solid six-pack," he adds.
Jermaine suggests performing each exercise back-to-back without rest, but if that feels too much have a 30 second breather between each one before moving on to the next.
Complete all of the exercises in the list and that is considered one set. Rest for 45 seconds between sets and perform four sets in total before congratulating yourself on a job well done.
Don't forget to drink plenty of water while exercising and ease your body into this routine with a 10-minute cardio warm up, whether that's on the treadmill, static bike or with a round of jumping jacks, high-knees or jogging on the spot.
The killer abs workout
1. Ab Crunch
This exercise targets the rectus abdominis muscles in a controlled manner, flexing and releasing the core muscles in order to give them a thorough workout.
Lay flat on your back, and then rise up to meet your pelvis using the shoulders and the core to maintain and propel you forward. Use the hands to support your neck.
Repeat at a comfortable pace for 30 seconds.
2. Bicycle Crunch
This move also works the rectus abdominis, as well as the upper abs and obliques, giving a nice rounded workout in one fairly simple manoeuvre.
Lay flat, rise into a crunch and ensure the back of your shoulders are off the floor, rotate to the right and try to meet the left knee with the right elbow while you extend the right leg straight out and then do the same for the opposing side.
When performed correctly, this exercise should look like you're pedalling an invisible bicycle (hence the name), while simultaneously connecting opposing elbows and knees with a slight twist of the trunk.
3. Reverse Crunch
Now we move on to the lower abs. Lie flat on your back with your legs up at a 90-degree angle to the floor.
Then, using just your core, pull your legs and hips towards the ceiling, while bringing your knees towards your chest and repeat. Ensure you feel your bum leave the floor, while pulling legs and hips up towards the ceiling.
It's a tough cookie, but the plank targets so many muscle groups and is an absolute must for sculpting a well-defined stomach.
Lay facedown with legs extended and elbows bent and directly under shoulders. Clasp your hands together.
Your feet should be hip-width apart and elbows should be shoulder-width apart.
Squeezing your abs, lift your body weight onto your toes with forearms still on the floor; keep a nice straight line from top of the head to lower spine.
5. High Plank or Straight Arm Plank
This is essentially the same exercise as above but the bodyweight should be placed on the hands, rather than forearms.
Jumping directly into this from the previous plank will keep the core activated and essentially works those muscles twice as hard. It will be tough, but the abs will be pumping after this.
6. Plank Jacks
Still focussing on the plank, this variation is a killer way to end the workout and really makes the core muscles pump.
Maintain either a High Plank or regular forearm-based plank, but add a jumping jack movement with the legs, while maintaining strong posture and alignment of your spine.
This is sure to get the pulse racing and have that stomach feeling nice and tight afterwards. All you need to do now is have a short rest and repeat the entire session.
It's going to hurt, but nobody says it was going to be easy.