Thought to be one of the biggest accomplishments for those who are trying to lose weight is the coveted presence of visible abs. Most people recognize a flat stomach with defined abdominals as a universal sign of health and vitality.
There are many things that come into play when it comes to getting a six pack, and it’s more complicated than just doing hundreds of crunches every day. There are a lot of things to consider: current body fat percentage, body type, diet, movement and daily habits. But even though rock hard abs may seem like a pipedream, they’re totally achievable when combined with the right mindset and ongoing lifestyle changes.
Here, I’ll discuss several things you can do to work towards getting the toned abdominals you’re seeking, but just know that there is no magic method or quick fix for uncovering your abs. It takes hard work and patience, but it’s so worth it in the end if that’s the look you desire. So, without further ado, let’s dive in!
Whatever you do, don’t believe the hype that you can get six-pack abs in just a month, as this is pretty unrealistic for most people who don’t already have pronounced abs. If that were the case, you wouldn’t have come here looking for answers, right? You may start to notice your stomach getting tighter and be able to feel the muscles underneath beginning to harden in 30 days, but visible abs take more effort.
One of the first challenges that you must tackle is body fat reduction. Your abs are in there, but they must be uncovered by reducing excess body fat first. That being said, if you work hard, you will lose weight all over, not just in your abdominal region. This can be done by way of diet and exercise in tandem, but it won’t happen with exercise alone if you’re not also willing to add other tools to your arsenal.
A person can (safely) lose about 1 to 2 percent body fat each month, so depending on where you’re at now, it could take a few months or a few years before you start noticing your abs beginning to reveal themselves. If you are already in somewhat decent shape and don’t have much excess body fat to lose, you may need to just continue whatever you’re currently doing to maintain your physique.
The Gender Gap
Gender does play a part in excess weight, as women are naturally meant to carry more body fat than men due to the fact that they are physically built for child bearing. For abs to start showing, a woman would need to keep her body fat percentage anywhere from about 14 to 19 percent. Going too far below this range long term though may lead to issues like secondary amenorrhea when body fat dips too low, resulting from the stalling of estrogen production. Hormones come into play especially for women, as weight gain/loss tends to fluctuate throughout each month. The good news is, some of this is generally due to some water weight, and this tends to even itself out after the monthly cycle ends.
Men on the other hand can drop even further below this body fat percentage range (6-13 percent) and still be riding in the safety zone, since they don’t require as much body fat and tend to drop excess pounds faster. Bodybuilders and athletes may drop below 10 percent body fat while in training, which can look great for competition purposes, but is not advisable long term. Our bodies all have a threshold in which we perform better as humans when we do have some body fat.
Food Is Fuel
You’ve probably heard the saying, “abs are made in the kitchen” and this couldn’t be more true. Training is important in order to get results, but all of it won’t matter if your diet isn’t in check. Cutting calories is part of the answer, but less calories alone won’t do it if you’re not cutting out the right kind. Many people find success in shedding weight faster by lowering their carb intake, or at the very least making sure that their carbs are coming from mostly plants and not through processed junk. Sprouted grains can be a good choice if you’re training extra hard and can tolerate them, as well as the darling of the carbohydrate crew: sweet potatoes.
Also, lowering your intake of high sugar fruits or replacing them with lower sugar fruits like berries is the way to go if you need a sweet fix. Raspberries are a good choice because they have a lot of fiber, are low sugar, and they are packed with vitamin C.
You’ll also want to make sure you’re getting adequate amounts of protein in order to add lean muscle to your frame. It will help with satiety, and it is a slower burning fuel source than carbs, so you’ll feel fuller longer. The body burns calories in excess while in the process of breaking down protein, so it plays an important role in fat loss.The best sources are grassfed beef, wild caught salmon, eggs, full fat, plain yogurt (or coconut yogurt if dairy is an issue), and beans if well tolerated. Your protein should cover around 30% of your calorie intake per day if you’re trying to lose weight and build lean muscle, but you can also divide your weight by 2.2 (for kg), then multiply that number by 1.2 up to 2 to calculate total grams of protein per day. If you’re going for the higher end, this amount would cover up to 30% of your daily calories.
The Importance of Sleep
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of quality sleep, especially if you’re trying to shed body fat. Sleep affects so many of our bodies’ daily functions, including metabolism and weight maintenance. In fact, research suggests that sleep might be the missing link for those who are having a difficult time losing weight. Getting less than seven hours each night has been shown to increase the likelihood of obesity and on the flipside, excess weight may encourage the development of sleep-related disorders like sleep apnea. Furthermore, adults are 55% more likely to become obese due to inadequate amounts of sleep according to this Healthline article.
So, if you want to work on building out those abs, make sure you get your sleep in check!
Train Like a Beast
Last but certainly not least, finding new ways to challenge your body will also work wonders in supporting your quest for the abs you’ve always wanted. Variation is key, so you need to keep your body guessing as much as possible. Using body weight resistance combined with regular strength training and primal movements will fire up your metabolism, increase mobility, and help you continue to torch calories even when you’re at rest. If you’re bored with your current workouts and need some inspiration to help break up your routine, check out my website and get started with your 14-day free trial.