Getting perfect abs is something many of us strive for. It is great to look at yourself in the mirror and be proud of your abdominal muscles. Not only do well-defined abs look good, but it is also healthy to have strong core muscles including abs and your back muscles and lower abdominals as well. To get to the point where you have defined, sexy abs there are some specific things you must do.
Getting Defined Abdominals Starts with More Cardio
You may think that because muscle definition involves working your muscles that you need to focus all your energy on strength training for that specific muscle group you are looking to improve. This is not the case! You should start with the mindset of the full-body as one workout goal because to improve one muscle group, the surrounding muscles must also be fit and healthy.
People Hate Cardio
Cardio is most people’s least favorite part of their workout, but if you want great abs you need to change this attitude right now. Without sufficient cardio, you will never have the six-pack you are after.
Cardio Burns Calories
Cardiovascular exercise, or cardio as it is called, burns a lot of calories, and helps stretch and work your muscles. Training your body to burn calories will help boost the effectiveness of any strength training you do which targets your abs. If your body is not burning enough calories the fat that surrounds your abs will not go away no matter how many sit-ups or crunches you do.
Add More Cardio
To work towards getting sexy abdominals you need to get your body used to more cardio in your workout regime. There are some great bodyweight exercises that require no equipment that you can do at home that involve lots of cardio. Check out this detailed guide on bodyweight exercises!
Improving Your Diet to Get Better Ab Muscles
Anytime you are working on a specific part of your body, you need to consider every other part because your body is a system of different parts working together. It is well known that the food you eat is a critical ingredient to how your body looks and feels. When you are trying to get excellent ab muscles you need to pay awfully close attention to what you are putting in your body.
You Need More Protein
Increasing your protein intake is one of the most important parts of your new ab diet routine. Eat your protein source first before the rest of your meal. When you do this, you will feel fuller faster and it will help you avoid eating more food and snacks that you do not really need. Another benefit of eating your protein first is that it will keep your blood sugar lower and avoid spikes. Here are some good sources of protein you can add to your diet:
- Cheese- Cheese is a filling snack that has calcium and plenty of protein and may even be beneficial to your heart health.
- Add almonds- Placing some almonds on top of your food is an easy way to add protein to any meal. You can get bags of chopped almonds cheap.
- Go with eggs instead of oatmeal- If you must choose a breakfast food, eggs are a good choice over cereal or oatmeal. Those have lots of carbs and not much protein, where eggs are a great source of protein.
- Greek Yogurt- Have some Greek yogurt for your snack, along with some chopped almonds on top.
- Protein shakes- Have a protein shake for a snack or breakfast. Whey protein is great, you can get powdered whey protein in bulk for not much money. If you have a great protein shaker bottle you can take your shake on the go. This is a fun way to increase your protein shake intake.
Drink More Water
If you think of your body as a machine, water is the lubricant. Of course, water is important no matter what is going on in your life, but it becomes critical when you have a fitness goal like getting a six-pack.
Water will keep your muscles limber and help with your energy level during your workouts. It is well known that drinking more water will improve your performance no matter what you are doing, but it is especially effective at helping your cardio and strength training go easier.
Stop Eating Nasty Processed Food
If you are already a fitness enthusiast, you probably do not have a fast-food problem. However, there are many processed foods that are bad for you that you may not be aware of. Everyone knows that a Big Mac or some French fries are processed food, but did you know pizza is also bad for you? Here are some processed foods to avoid:
- Instant soup
- Pastries and cakes
- Potato chips
- Fish sticks
- Frozen meals
- Candy (obviously)
- Fake cheese like Velveeta (nasty!)
- Ice cream
Eat More Fiber
Fiber is important for your health; nobody can argue with this! It helps with your gut health and makes sure you are getting rid of waste more efficiently. A high fiber diet will lower your risk of diabetes and heart disease as well. Everybody knows this, but for some reason, most athletes do not get enough fiber. Here are some simple ways to add more fiber to your diet:
Whole foods- Whole foods are exactly what it sounds like, food that has not been processed. Vegetables and fruits and legumes are all whole foods that contain some carbs, but also a great deal of fiber.
Popcorn- You probably did not expect this one! Popcorn is best when you air pop it, avoid the bags of super buttery microwave popcorn. Get the raw kernels and use an air popper. Popcorn is packed with fiber and a fun way to get more in your diet.
Focus on whole grains- Whole grains are less processed than refined grains. The less processing the grains go through the more fiber they have. Here are a few whole grains you can start looking for:
- Wheat Berries
Well Rounded Workouts That Work Every Muscle Are Key
Getting killer abs is way more than just binging on abdominal exercises (as you are starting to see!). As counterintuitive as it sounds, you should start trying to get more well-rounded workouts if you want to see faster improvement in your abs.
As the body surrounding the abs begins to get in shape, the abs will start to follow suit. The more calories you are burning and the more limber and healthier the surrounding muscles are, the easier it will be to focus the abs and get them defined.
Running and Cycling
Start adding more full-body exercises to your workout routine to see fast improvement in your abdominal muscle group. Running or jogging, and cycling are great exercises that work a lot of muscles at the same time and help satisfy the cardio needed to develop your abs. Consider getting a recumbent bike or folding treadmill if you have the budget and space for them. Jumping rope or working the battle rope are intense workouts that will give you lots of cardio and work for many muscle groups as well.
A well-rounded routine is going to supercharge your efforts!
Crunches are not the Answer to a Six Pack
Yes, crunches are the preferred exercise everyone thinks of when it comes to abs. They are part of the plan but crunches alone are not going to give you the results you are after.
It is a common misconception that when you want to get good abs, start doing crunches over and over until your stomach is on fire. While targeting the area you want to be more defined with exercises that use those muscles is part of the equation, it is not the answer.
As stated earlier, your entire body’s fitness is part of your abs looking great. Have you ever seen somebody with flabby arms and a saggy butt that has perfect abs? Of course, you haven’t! Every time you see somebody with perfect abs the abs are surrounded by an amazing physical body with well-defined muscles everywhere.
To put it bluntly, perfect abs means you need to have a dang near perfect body everywhere else.
Specific Exercises You Need to Focus on To Get Perfect Abs
There are several variations of planking, any of them are going to be helpful to your goal of getting great abdominals. Most people think crunches are the kings of core exercises, but it is planking. Planking will work your core like a boss and improve your stability while giving you a decent cardio workout as well.
If you are not already doing planks in your routine, you need to start. As part of your well-rounded workout routine, they will help you get to your goal much faster than if you were not doing them!
Do it- Get on your stomach and place your weight on your forearms. Ensure your back is straight and you should feel the weight on your forearms and toes. Your core will be engaged and your shoulders as well. Hold this position, you are now planking!
While this exercise is focused on the upper body, when you do it correctly it also strengthens the lower back. By engaging the lower back, you are simultaneously working your abdominals. As you push down on your hands your stomach will tighten along with your back to keep your back straight. This engages the core in a way that is different from crunches or other ab focused exercises.
Do it- Lay on your stomach and put your arms out to the side. Place your hands flat on the ground about shoulder-width apart. Make your back straight and your legs should be close together. Bring your chest down to the floor and then go back up.
Crunches and Reverse / Side Crunches
Crunches are well-known core exercises. As you have learned already though, crunches alone will not give you well-defined abs. They are a big part of the plan, however. Crunches engage all muscles in your core as well as your lower back, hips, and pelvis.
Crunches can put a lot of stress on your lower back, so if you have had issues in the past, be very careful with crunches.
Do it- Get on your back and put your feet flat on the floor. Place your feet roughly hip-width apart from each other. Bend your knees and fold your arms across your chest while you flex your abs and your body moves up slightly.
For reverse crunches, you would raise your legs while on your back and bend your knees. Engage your abs and bring your knees toward your chest.
For side crunches, lie on your side with one the floor arm stretched out in front of you and the other arm bent at the elbow and behind your head. Engage your stomach muscles and move upward.
Barbell rollouts engage your core as well as your shoulders. This exercise does require you to have a barbell and ideally an exercise mat. This exercise is another simple one that you can add to your routine to help reach your goal of sexy abdominal muscles.
Do it- On an exercise mat get on your knees in a kneeling position. Put a barbell in front of you on the ground and grab it. Roll the barbell forward slowly until you are almost fully prone. Drag the barbell back toward you to finish in the kneeling position again.
Swiss Ball Crunch
This is exactly what it sounds like, but it is an amazingly effective exercise to target your abs. It looks a lot like a crunch, but you are sitting on top of a swiss ball.
Do it- Start by sitting on top of a Swiss ball, with your legs in front of you and feet flat on the ground. Place your hands behind your head and do a crunch. When you go back down you will extend a little past your flat back position, which will stretch your abs.
Getting perfect abs is exceedingly difficult because it involves improving your entire body and diet. To have excellent tone in your stomach muscles you need to work your entire body. This will require you to make some changes to your workout routine and change your focus from working your abs to working your body. As mentioned earlier, when you see someone with abs to die for, you will always see that those abs are attached to a body that is also almost perfect. You cannot have one without the other. Time to get busy!