8 Things I Tell Anyone Who Really Wants Six-Pack Abs
If you’re like me, right after a hard-core ab workout, you feel like you have the tightest midsection ever. You can feel each muscle beneath your shirt and you can’t wait to find some private moment to take a peak at your hard work. You’re sweaty and excited. But when you lift your shirt — your abs look exactly the same. What's going on?
I want to share with you some of the reasons why your great abs are hiding beneath that layer of fat and hopefully spur you into action to create a healthy routine that will make you proud!
1. You’re doing every ab exercise in the book.
Spot reduction of fat is a myth. You can’t crunch away midsection fat or do lunges to get rid of a double butt! A combination of intense cardio sessions, clean eating, and consistent weight training over time is the only way to lose the fat hiding your muscles.
2. You do crunches EVERY day.
When you work your muscles every day, they don’t have time to heal. Just like any body part, your core needs time off for recovery and to build new, lean muscle. Try incorporating a strong, concentrated ab workout at least three to four times a week with breaks in between.
3. You do an ab workout and then happily forget they exist until the next workout!
Just because you’re not in the gym, that doesn’t mean you can’t be using your body to its full extent. Your core can be used for everyday situations that will teach it to remain strong and become one of the first muscles to be used. By consciously working on your posture, you can engage your abs all day long.
Here’s another idea: The next time you have a decent drive on the highway, hold your core tight for one mile, release it for the second mile and retighten for the next. See how long you can do this!!
4. You’re doing the same core workout over and over.
Any exercise you perform repeatedly for months will result in a plateau, where your body stops making progress. Also, by performing only certain moves, you’re not working your entire core. There is no one exercise that will get you a six pack. Don’t forget about the obliques, lower back, lower abs and upper abs. Doing an intense, rotating regime will get your core strong! Try rotational lunges, T-pushups, and squats with up-right rows. The key here is that these are combination movements that join two classic moves together.
5. You eat unhealthy processed foods.
By eating prepared meals, you’re not paying enough attention to the nutrients your body needs and you’re likely ingesting WAY too much sodium. The bloating that excess sodium causes can hide all that hard work! Getting great abs starts in the kitchen with healthy, balanced meals — not in the freezer section of your grocery store. On that note, cut back on alcohol and sugar too. No one gets a six pack from martinis and cheesecake. Try water and green tea!
6. You’re not drinking enough water.
Drink at least half your body weight in ounces each day to remain truly hydrated and flushed of sodium. As an example, I weigh 130 pounds and as such, should be drinking at least 65 ounces (130/2 = 65). Adding coffee and workouts will increase this amount so add more water to stay ahead of the game. My goal is to get 100 ounces each day, but keep in mind that I play soccer, run, workout, box and drink coffee. All these make me sweat heavily or dehydrate me.
7. You don’t have time/a gym/good genetics.
People that have a six pack tend to not have excuses. There is always time during the week for a workout. You just have to want it bad enough and get off your bottom and do it! Ab workouts and clean eating do not require special equipment, nor the DNA of gods.
8. You’re trying to run off your belly fat.
A regimen of steady distance running will not reduce your body-fat percentage enough to lead to a six pack. Instead try high-intensity cardio programs. Think sprints not marathons. If you love your long distance runs, don’t stop! Try mixing in some boxing sessions to get that high intensity training in.
All of these tips revolve around the same bottom line: If you don’t have a low body fat percentage, you will never see your six pack! But on the bright side, everyone has a flat, sexy core waiting to be revealed. Pick your goal and stick to it until you get there!
Erin Oprea, former Marine, owner of Oprea Personal Fitness, and author of the forthcoming book, The 4x4 Diet. She provides elite, in-home, one-on-one training for busy professionals in the Nashville area. Currently working with Loews Hotels in Nashville, Balance is Erin's collaboration to bring her successful style of training and eating to the traveling public. With a focus on functional fitness and a straight-forward approach to nutrition, she has helped create healthy lifestyles for celebrities, executives, music industry leaders and great people dedicated to an active, fun life for over a decade. For more information, visit the website at ErinOprea.com.