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So you want a six pack?

Sean Lerwill's six pack

This weekend I did a Tabata HIIT session on Saturday morning with two close friends. We performed three Tabata 4minute intervals sessions with 3minutes walking between them to recover and take on Maxiraw Apple and Pear BCAAs. Immediately after we hit the mats for some abs exercises. I personally find abs exercises far harder after intervals due to the pre-fatiguing that the sprints provides.

It probably seems like I am going to tell you how you must always do abs exercises after doing intervals and that’s the way you get a six pack. Well I’m not. The reason I have mentioned the intervals and abs, is because the whole time we performed our session, from warm-ups to intervals to abs, a women in her early twenties (quite obviously carrying a little excess around her middle) was performing abs exercises on the mats. Even after we had finished and left to get our post workout shakes, she was still doing crunches and leg raises.

I’m hoping that most of you reading this already have an active interest in fitness, so already know that:

You do NOT get a SIX PACK from doing endless sit up and abs exercises

Despite what the numerous books, magazines, phone apps, electronic muscle stimulus adverts on TV tell you, you cannot target excess body fat by doing exercises on that area. Yes you will exercise the muscles and make them stronger. You may even feel harder muscles under your excess stomach fat. But, you will never get a flat stomach or see a six pack while that excess body fat is there. Ignore the claims of this ridiculous pieces of kit, devices and exercise plans.

In reality, to get a six pack you don’t really need to do abs exercises. I have always been asked what exercises I did to get my six pack (or 7 pack, I’m a genetic freak, but 7 is my lucky number so I’m happy!). 10 years ago, I would’ve said running and general exercise. I rarely did any abs exercises. These days, I exercise my abs doing front squats, overhead squats and correct technique on overhead press, pull-ups and deadlifts. I enjoy exercises like rollouts, so tend to perform them which does give my abs a workout. However, again, doing these exercises will train my core and my rectus abdominus muscles, but if I have any excess of bodyfat from bad food choices and overeating, you still wouldn’t see them. I eat well and exercise hard, hence I can see my abs.

This increasingly popular, yet a little cheesy saying is true:

Abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym

My advice if you want to get a flat stomach or six pack:

  1. Sort out a sensible nutritional plan and ensure a calorific deficit
  2. Eat high protein, good fats, green vegetables & fist size amounts of good carbs (not cakes ,biscuits, fruits etc) in 5 to 6 meals
  3. Don’t starve yourself. It doesn’t work. It will slow your metabolism
  4. Perform full body workouts using resistance and weights (men and women!). Especially compound movements
  5. Swap long, slow runs for short sharp interval sessions, they burn more calories and support fat loss far better

Conclusion

In order of importance:

  1. Good diet
  2. plus weights sessions
  3. plus interval training
  4. … hello six pack!

Sean Lerwill - Author

Sean is an former-Royal Marines Commando Officer & Physical Training Instructor. He has been published as a writer five times, has a BSc in Molecular Genetics and a Post Graduate Certificate in Education. He is also a MaxiNutrition ambassador.

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