Want killer abs for the summer? Of course, you do! You’ve probably read plenty about how to build abs, along with a lot of misinformation about how hard it is to achieve that six-pack. But don’t get discouraged: There’s actually more within your control than you realize when it comes to revealing your abs.
Abs are never out of reach, but they can be challenging to reveal since you have to balance cutting fat at the same time that you’re building muscle. Lower body fat means less padding between your skin and your muscle, allowing more definition to show even if the amount of muscle is the same.
This delicate balancing act means that you have to pay attention to every part of your bodybuilding lifestyle, including your cardio regimen and your diet, for starters.
Check out our 5 secrets for revealing your abs and you’ll be well on your way to a summer six-pack of glory:
#1: Do More Cardio
Cardio is one of the best tools you have at your disposal when you’re trying to reveal your abs. The reason? Studies show that the amount of cardio that you do could directly increase the amount of belly fat that you lose… and belly fat is exactly what you want to be cutting when you’re looking to gain abs.
There’s a ton of variety available when it comes to cardio, so don’t despair if you aren’t a fan of the treadmill. The type of cardio that you choose doesn’t matter as much as consistency, so just pick something that appeals to you and feels good, and then stick to it.
Some options include:
- Barre training
- Elliptical training
- Yoga (certain styles, such as vinyasa, focus on fast cardio exercise)
Around 3 to 5 hours of cardio per week is enough to enhance your body’s fat-cutting capabilities without interfering with your body’s ability to build more muscle, so try to strike a balance where you’re doing it often but not overdoing it.
#2: Use HIIT Training to Your Advantage
Have you heard of HIIT, or High Interval Intensity Training? This training method burns calories, gets the heart rate elevated, and tests you a little more every time you do it.
It involves breaking up a normally-paced exercise routine with short, 60 to 90-second bursts of hyper-intense exercise. The key to making HIIT work properly is that you need to push yourself to your limit during these HIIT sets, which aids your body in maximizing its metabolism and burning more fat.
When paired with a core-targeted strength exercise routine, HIIT can be a valuable asset that helps you melt away abdominal fat while showing off the newly-built core muscles underneath.
#3: Do More Cardio
There are over 100 trillion probiotic bacteria living in our gastrointestinal tracts, helping our bodies process food and get rid of waste… and lessening the amount of belly fat that we develop.
Scientists aren’t sure why fiber has this effect on our guts, but it’s clear that it does. For some reason, having a diverse microbiome in the gut is directly correlated to having smaller amounts of belly fat. Eating more fiber increases the diversity of the microbiome, leading to less visceral fat development.
It’s easy to get more fiber into your diet because it’s in a lot of high-protein foods that bodybuilders already eat, such as beans, rice, whole grains, and nuts.
Some choice fiber options include:
- Brown rice
- Fruits and vegetables with the skin (e.g. apples, potatoes)
- Whole grains
#4: Increase Your Protein Intake
While you’re maxing your fiber, don’t forget to consider your protein intake, too. Eating more protein can be a great way to build lean abs when combined with core-targeted strength training.
The key is to choose foods that are high in protein without being high in calories.
For instance, peanut butter may be a great source of protein, but it will pack on the pounds at nearly 200 calories per tablespoon! It’s fine when eaten in moderation, but you’ll get more bang from your buck out of lean, low-calorie proteins such as eggs, salmon, and Greek yogurt.
Some great lean protein choices for ab building (or any muscle building) include:
- Cottage cheese
#5: Target the Right Muscles
All the nutritional care in the world won’t help you build your abs if you aren’t actually working them. The abs have two main muscle groups: the rectus abdominis muscles and the transverse abdominis muscles.
The rectus muscles are on top, so those are the ones that you can see through your skin if you get your bodyweight low enough. Once you’ve developed definition in the rectus abdominis, you can move to the transverse abdominis for deeper strength.
There are plenty of bodyweight exercises you can do at home that target the abs, including:
- Forearm Planks: Get into a classic plank position with your hands, then lower to your forearms, keeping your palms on the floor and forearms straight ahead like a sphinx. Keep your hips up and parallel with your back by engaging your core and lifting.
- Bridge: Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Activate your core and raise your hips until they’re the highest point on your body. Keep your core strong and focus on creating a straight, diagonal line with your body.
- Side Plank: From a side-lying position, raise your body up on your bottom arm’s hand, straightening slowly through the arm and keeping straight through the legs and torso. While you raise your body, activate your core muscles and focus on a slow transition from the abs, rather than rushing by pushing up with your arm.
You can have the abs you’ve always wanted, and hopefully, the process of developing those abs is much easier once you realize the amount of control you have. The right workouts and nutritional regimen can give you the boost you’ve always wanted for Instagram-worthy abs! The key to whatever approach you choose is consistency, so make sure you get into the gym regularly and build mindful habits around what you eat. Happy cutting!
- Bodybuilding: 6 Ways to Get Ripped Six-Pack Abs! <https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/6-ways-to-get-ripped-6-pack-abs.html>
- Healthline: The Best Ways to Get 6-Pack Abs Fast <https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/best-ways-to-get-abs>
- PubMed: A dose-response relation between aerobic exercise and visceral fat reduction: systematic review of clinical trials <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17637702>
- Men’s Health: Is Cardio Necessary for Super-Low Body Fat? <https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/a19516299/low-body-fat-cardio/>
- Self: High Intensity Interval Training: What is It And How Do You Know If You’re Doing It? <https://www.self.com/story/what-is-high-intensity-interval-training-benefits>
- Men’s Journal: The 10-Minute HIIT Workout to Target Abs <https://www.mensjournal.com/health-fitness/10-minute-hiit-workout-target-abs/>
- Healthline: How Eating Fiber Can Help You Lose Belly Fat <https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/fiber-and-belly-fat#section2>
- Healthline: 10 Ways to Improve Your Gut Bacteria Based on Science <https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/improve-gut-bacteria>
- Mayo Clinic: Dietary Fiber: Essential for a Healthy Diet <https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983>
- Healthline: 26 Foods That Help You Build Lean Muscle <https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/26-muscle-building-foods#section4>