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Fitness Nutrition Forums

Where's My Six-Pack?

You don't need thousands of crunches - get your diet and training on point to reveal that six-pack.

Oh, the six-pack — the epitome of a great physique. When you have it you feel fantastic, and when you don't ... you feel let down. You believe it's under there. You train your core regularly, but can't figure out why the work doesn't show. That's because there is a lot of truth to the old adage, "abs are made in the kitchen".

The Nutrition Component

Low-fat, high-fat, high-protein, low-carb, carb cycling, this diet, that diet — it all gets really confusing! Different approaches do work for different people. However, all of these diets focus on good, quality foods — just in varying amounts. You need to consume lean protein, nutrient-dense carbs such as sweet potatoes, brown rice or oatmeal, along with heart-healthy unsaturated fats and fresh fruits and veggies. Balance is key to satiety, health and leaning out your body. You can play around with the nutrition component to figure out what works for you or hire a registered dietitian to guide you. Along with the foods you consume, remember to drink your water! Avoid the bloat and water retention which are ab-killers by drinking a minimum of 64 ounces per day, up to 1 gallon to really hydrate your body.

Change Up Your Training

Your abs are a muscle group just like all the rest. So you need to train those core muscles at least two or three times per week. But that doesn't mean you should spend an hour doing crunches and all their variations. Your abs are working during exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, squats, lunges, deadlifts, etc. They work to keep your body stable, and while you are focusing on a different muscle group, they still have to work. Keep your stomach tight during every resistance exercise to support your spine. You can practice activating your core by lying down, placing your hand on your abdomen and forcibly exhaling all the air you can. Your stomach pulls in and tightens. Mimic that feeling throughout your workouts.

When you do go to target those abs, remember to train from different angles. Planks, mountain climbers, ball rollouts or crunches, Russian twists, hanging leg raises, and all the rest hit your core in different ways. This stimulates your abs and keeps them changing.

Don't Neglect the Cardio

All of the bodybuilders and athletes that have great midsections do cardio. Cardio is great for your overall health, including the reduction of body fat. You have to be lean to see that abdominal definition. If your diet and training are on point, you don't need hours of cardio. Instead, try HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, to really torch calories and save time. A solid, challenging 20 minutes of HIIT can improve your cardiovascular fitness, and burn more calories, than 20 minutes of moderate walking.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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