Who doesn’t wish for six-pack abs? Practically everyone, yet most of us feel that these abs are the most difficult to attain. The fact of the matter remains that the washboard abs are the reward of getting strong, being athletic and rocking in the gym. Even for the most competitive athletes and body builders, abs ebb and flow with a change in your workout and the diet schedule. The elusive abs, peek at a lower body fat percentage for both men and women. Obviously, for the shredded six-pack kind, your body fat needs to go lower further.
Your abs are intimately linked to your body fat percentage and for a genuine reason. Believe it or not, all humans have washboard abs, but for most of us, it is hidden beneath a layer of fat. Whereas for an average male, body fat ranges between 18-24 percent, in women it goes up to 25-31 percent. The bare minimum body fat required for basic physical and physiological functions in men should not go below 2-5 percent and in women below 10-12 percent and this is the range around which bodybuilders are during the contest prep. Hence, you have to go on a weight loss diet for abs to show.
CRUNCHES: THE ULTIMATE SIX PACK ABS WORKOUT
One of the most believed myths is that umpteen crunches, is the ultimate six pack abs workout and the more crunches to do, the result will reflect on your abs. This is not true. Your rectus abdominis, the scientific name for muscles that run the length of your abdomen constitutes predominantly of fast-twitch muscle fibers.
Sit-ups or crunches are a standard exercise to strengthen the rectus abdominis muscle group. Crunches engage upper abs and leg raises recruit the lower abs. When you train your abs, use these ab exercises every alternate day. A study commissioned by American Council on Exercise in 2001 recommends an exercise stability ball to train rectus abdominis muscles
HOW TO PERFORM A BASIC CRUNCH
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart.Put your hands behind your head in a way that thumbs touch your ear, but do not cradle your head by lacing your fingers together.
- Hold your elbows out to the sides but rounded slightly in. Tilt your chin slightly.
- Pull your abdominals in and curl up so that your head, neck and shoulders lift off the floor.
- Wait for a second or two and go back to the starting position..
A set of eight to twelve repetitions, with enough resistance so that you reach the verge of failure by the time you do the 12th rep is more than enough to build these muscles. While for beginners, body weight provides ample resistance, as you grow stronger rely on weights to increase the resistance.
Though your abs recover faster from the strain of training, yet it makes sense to train your abdominals every alternate day to allow time for recovery.
ESSENTIAL FOODS FOR SIX PACK ABS
Since abs peek at a lower body fat percentage, your abs diet should accelerate fat loss, especially around the midsection. Along with the basic tips, like frequent eating, counting portion size, drinking lots of water and no carbs after 7pm to keep your metabolism high, you need to incorporate certain essential foods for six pack abs.
- HIGH PROTEIN DIET FOR SIX PACK ABS
A study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism reported that subjects getting 40 percent of their calorie requirement from protein along with weightlifting and cardio lost more than twice body fat, particularly from the abdominal region, as compared to subjects, getting 15 to 20 percent of their daily calorie share from proteins and following only cardio program.
A high protein diet along with a sensible mix of weight lifting and cardio is a must to maximize both muscle growth and fat loss. Increasing protein share in your diet not only lowers carb content but also keeps you sated for a longer duration and maintains steady insulin level. When you replace carbs with proteins, it forces your body to burn more body fat for fuel.
2. CYCLE CARBS TO FIRE YOUR METABOLISM
To drop your body fat percentage, you need to curtail carbs. The downside of a low carb diet is energy depletion, extreme food cravings and a drop in your resting metabolic rate. Try to put a bare minimum of 25 to 50 grams of carbs both before and after your workout sessions to get that energy spurt. Never omit vegetables as they package fiber and micronutrients in a lean calorie format.
After every three to four weeks of low carb diet, you should have a high carb weekend to fire your metabolism. During your carb party eat nutrient dense carbs, like fruits, wholegrain bread, and pasta to stimulate insulin response that will enable shuttling of nutrients in your muscle cells and enable them to grow. Additionally, it will replenish muscle glycogen stores to fuel your cells. Cycle carbs to fire your metabolism for accelerated weight loss. Whether you’re restricting carbs or allowing those, you need to avoid starchy carbs before bedtime.
Tip: For a low carb diet you need to replace grains with veggies and include grains in a high carb diet
3. DO NOT FORGET FAT FOR RIPPED ABS
Finally, you must not forget fat for washboard abs. Incorporate good fats such as olive, flax seed, fish oil into the diet. Exercise discretion and limit your fat intake to only a few grams per meal coming from the healthiest sources. Avoid fats prior and post work outs, as it can slow digestion and make you lethargic.
Most importantly, you need to understand that six pack abs is a reward of a disciplined lifestyle, and it will stay that way. Rather than slaving for washboard abs, focus on getting stronger and muscular. Abs will follow.