Wide shoulders are great, and big arms are awesome, but the gold standard that determines how great of shape you’re in is the midsection. Almost everybody that is into training wants to be able to pull up their shirt and reveal a six-pack. The confusion comes when people try to figure out how to do it. Does it take thousands of reps with crunches and situps, or does it take extreme dieting to show off those cuts? As the adage goes, “abs are made in the kitchen,” right?
The answer is actually “yes,” as in it doesn’t just take one or the other. Getting pro-level abs takes both smart dieting and hard training. If these tips can be put into practice now, then you’re much more likely to trim down that waistline and feel more confident taking off that shirt this summer.
Make a Commitment and Be Consistent
We all may know that one person that for whatever reason, has the best genetics possible and wakes up shredded. For the rest of us, getting lean enough to create pro caliber abs means making the serious commitment to achieve that goal. Just like you go all in at your job or supporting your family, training to get in that kind of shape means you need to make a hard decision today and start acting on it.
Beyond that, you must renew that commitment every day. One day of dieting and hard training won’t build a big bench, big arms, or ripped abs. It takes consistent effort and execution over a long period of time to get there.
Many people notice that they can get leaner everywhere else, but the midsection takes the longest. Without going too deep into the science of the matter, this is because for most folks, the belly is where fat gets stored first because it’s close to the digestive system. Unfortunately, this can also be the last place it leaves because when you restrict calories, the body will rely on fat storages for energy to compensate. This is actually what you want, but the downside is it will hold on to that closest resource for as long as possible. The result is you may notice cuts in the legs, leaner arms, and even detail in the upper back before you see the first line of a six-pack.
Instead of getting discouraged about the lack of ab development, just remind yourself that with every new cut, line, and detail that comes out everywhere else, you’re one step closer to revealing that midsection to the world. It will be worth the effort and wait, believe me.
Don't Neglect Your Diet
It doesn’t matter what type of physical improvement you’re pursuing, nutrition matters, a lot! If you’re trying to get leaner, then the simple phrase rings true - calories in should be less than calories out. This does NOT mean that you need to eat as little as possible, though. As a matter of fact, some people get stuck and don’t make progress because they dieted down for so long that their bodies started fighting the process.
The food choices you eat are more important than how little you eat in the long run. Abs are great, but we are in this for health reasons, after all. There are many popular diets and nutrition programs out there such as Intermittent Fasting (IF), Paleo, Carnivore, and some people still use the Atkins diet. The type of plan you follow should be one that you can use consistently and be more likely to stay on track with. If fasting on a 16 hour off, 8 hours on (eating) plan will be best for you, then do it. If you like the foods that come with a Paleo plan, then go for it. The only factors that should be followed universally are that you need protein for muscle, healthy fats for overall health, and water to stay hydrated.
Consider Taking Supplements
Once you have a solid food plan in place, it’s time to consider the supplements you take. Supplement Source is a great place for all your supplement needs, as long as they support the above steps. So, what supplements do you need?
People getting leaner can benefit from either an appetite control supplement or a fat-burning product if your doctor supports it. Always check with your physician before trying something new, especially if you have lingering health issues.
Once you get that clearance, an appetite control supplement can be a great asset if you work late, travel often, or simply have a lot of cravings. If you need something to pick you up for an early training session, then a fat-burner with stimulants such as caffeine will serve you well. Just don’t make the mistake of assuming supplements will correct diet mistakes. That is not what they’re made for, and you’ll be disappointed with the results.
Another great asset to have is whey protein. Having a shake once or twice a day can keep the calorie count low but keep your protein intake high. They’re easy to make and take little time as well. Just don’t leave your empty shaker cup in the car. The smell won’t be nice.
Incorporate Cardio Exercises
A big misnomer is that cardio helps you burn fat. This isn’t exactly true. Cardio helps you burn calories, which can lead the body to resort to fat storage for energy. This is why many trainers and experts advocate for doing cardio on an empty stomach. There are two popular methods of cardio, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and Low-Intensity Steady State (LISS). Which one is better? Studies lean towards HIIT, but I always suggested that people do both because there are advantages to both. HIIT can burn more calories in less time, but LISS can be more enjoyable and help promote recovery since the body isn’t working quite as hard. Switch up which types of cardio you do, and the program will be a lot less boring.
Train You Entire Body
Last, but not least, is the workouts themselves. You need to train the entire body, even if your main goal is ab development, because a complete physique is a healthy one. You could start workouts with some form of ab training if you like, but you don’t have to train them every day. Arnold Schwarzenegger used to start every workout with ten straight minutes of Roman Chair Sit-ups. You don’t have to go to that extreme, but you do need to train them hard if you want those muscles to look solid when you get leaner. This routine can be done at home twice or even three times a week without weights. It’s simple but effective. Focus on slow rep speed, concentrated contractions, and stay focused so you can see the best results possible.
Pro Caliber Abs Workout Routine
A1: Crunches with Feet Elevated – 3 sets of 15-20 reps
B1: Lying Leg Raises – 3 sets of 15-20 reps
C1: Lying Oblique Crunch – 3 sets of 15 reps per side.
D1: Planks – 3 sets of 1 minute