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March 16, 2011

4 Keys to Uncovering Your Six-Pack Abs

By Tara Ballard

Ah…the elusive six-pack…so many people want it, yet so few (visibly) have it!  For years I engaged in long-duration cardio (up to 4-5 hours A DAY of exercise!) and tons of crunches and “Ab” classes in an attempt to “lean out” and uncover the small, though stubborn, layer of fat and water that covered my midsection.  And though I was always thin, it was not until I changed up my eating, training and cardio routines that I truly achieved a tighter midsection with visible abs (picture below).  Now I only do about 4-5 hours of exercise A WEEK!

Here are my 4 top tips for making the abs pop:

1] First and foremost, you have heard it before: “Abs are made in the kitchen,” NOT the gym.  You can do crunches all day long, but unfortunately, those abs will stay hidden unless you’re fueling your body correctly and eating in a way that helps shed water.

2] Do the right types of cardio: just like thousands of crunches won’t make your abs pop, neither will long duration, low intensity cardio. Think all-out sprints and plyometric movements, done to the point of breathlessness.  These types of movements work to create the wonderful Metabolic Effect, so that you are burning fat long after the workout is complete.  The phrase “go hard, or go home” comes to mind here.  Intensity trumps duration every time!

3] Do the right types of strength training: time to put down the pink dumbbells, and pick up those heavy weights ladies!  Similar to sprints and plyometrics, performing full body “hybrid” movements with heavy weights will illicit the Metabolic Effect, and do wonders for the mid-section.  Examples include squat/press, push-up-row, lunge/curl, etc.

4] Vary the intensity and types of core exercises you do frequently: the abdominals adapt quickly, so it’s important to vary the types of exercises, rep range, weight used, etc. to keep them “guessing”.  I personally love doing different variations of hanging leg raises, plank, and decline reverse crunches. See sample workout and video below :).

Exercise Weight Reps Notes
Hanging Leg Raise N/A 20 Vary it up each round if desired (see video)
Rope Crunch 1st 3 rounds HEAVY
4th round-drop set
25-first three rounds
10/10/10-last round is drop set, dropping weight twice after 10 reps
**Do not sit back on your heels as this works more hip flexor
Decline Crunch w/ dumbbell 10 lb dumbbell 15 Place dumbbell between feet
Side Plank w/ dumbbell twist 10 lb dumbbell 15 each side See video


Try out the above and let me know what you think! And please feel free to share your favorite ab workouts :).

As you can see, uncovering your six-pack is not just about doing crunches all day long; proper nutrition and the right types of exercise are key.  For more guidance, take a look at our 4 Weeks to Tight Core Training program!

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