Lean and muscular man get six pack abs

How to get six-pack abs

Here are the definitive answers to the question you ask us most: how to get lean, hard and defined six-pack abs. The good news is it’s not as complicated – or as difficult – as you think. But only if you follow the New Body Plan expert guide to get six-pack abs!

What is a six-pack?

The six-pack is anatomically known as the rectus abdominus. It’s a paired muscle that runs vertically on each side of the front of the abdomen. The muscle pairs are separated down the middle by a band of connective tissue called the linea alba (or white line).

It’s this tissue, and similar lines that that run horizontally across the rectus abdominus, that creates “separation” in this muscle group and the “six” visually-distinct parts of a six-pack.

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What do the abdominals do?

The rectus abdominus is a very important postural muscle. It’s responsible for flexing your spine forwards, which is the movement you do when doing a crunch. It also has a role in breathing, stabilising your torso during exercise, and protecting your internal organs from damage.

Why can’t I see my six-pack abs?

Everyone has a six-pack but most people can’t see theirs for one simple reason. It’s hiding under a layer of belly fat. This is especially true for men, who are genetically programmed to store fat around their stomachs. Women typically store it around their hips, thighs and bottom. If you have too much body fat then your abs will remain hidden, only making an appearance once your body-fat levels reach a certain percentage. For men that’s typically under the 10% mark, or maybe slightly lower to reveal the full definition of your lower abs.

Is going for a run the best way to get six-pack abs?

Afraid not. For many years the theory prevailed that the best – or indeed only – way to shift excess body fat was to do hours of cardio training. Specifically running, swimming or cycling in the “fat burn zone”. That’s when your pulse is around 60-70% of your maximum heart rate. (You can estimate your MHR, which is your maximum number of heart beats per minute, by subtracting your age in years from 220.)

If long and slow cardio was the best way to get lean every amateur marathon runner would cross the finish line with abs of steel. And that’s clearly not the case!

Long runs do burn a lot of calories. But they also increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This encourages your body to break down muscle tissue for fuel and store more of the energy you eat as fat. It also lowers your levels of muscle-building and fat-burning hormones, including testosterone.

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What’s the best cardio to get six-pack abs?

You need to follow a training plan based on lifting weights, which will promote the release of those body-improving hormones so you build lean muscle and burn fat fast. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has a similar positive effect on your body composition, and will improve your cardiovascular fitness too.

It’s why we include “Fat-Loss Finishers”, such as farmer’s walks, prowler pushes and kettlebell swings, in all of the New Body Plan fat-loss plans. Why? The combination of lifting weights and high-intensity cardio is the fastest way to blast away even stubborn body fat. And to build lean muscle as well, to completely transform how great you look, feel and perform.

You also need to follow a smart and sustainable approach to eat for fast fat loss. The New Body Plan nutrition approach has already helped thousands of ordinary guys get extraordinary results thanks to its simplicity and effectiveness.

It’s relatively high in muscle-building protein and low in processed carbs to provide your body with the energy and essential nutrients it needs to perform at its best, without taking on excess calories that will get stored as fat.

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What are the best exercises to get six-pack abs?

Heavy compound lifts are best. Barbell squats, overhead presses and deadlifts work your entire abdominal region far harder than even the best gym machine moves, such as the leg press or seated shoulder press.

Why? Because they require your core to stabilise your torso, and assist in power transfer between your upper and lower body. Try these best dumbbell moves for six pack abs.

What abs exercises should I do to get a six-pack?

While compound lifts are more effective not only for bigger muscles less body fat, and to get a six-pack, there are some abs-specific moves you should do. Try these best bodyweight abs moves.

But the most popular abs exercise, the sit-up, isn’t actually a good one because it’s your hip flexors that power the exercise, not your abs.

The plank and its variations are great for building strength in the deep-lying stability muscles of the core. Gym ball crunches hit the top of the abs. Knee raise twists work your obliques (side abs). And hanging leg raises and reverse crunches target your lower abs. So they should feature in any good lower abs workout.

The best way to work your abs during every exercise is to make sure you start each set with your core fully engaged and tight so it’s always working to keep your body stable and your posture perfect.

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