How to get the ultimate six-pack
by Monique Farrugia
Beating belly jiggle and getting the six-pack of your dreams requires hard work and dedication (I’m not gonna lie), and you’ll need to go beyond straight sit-ups to achieve this! However, you don’t actually need to hit the gym every single day or become a professional bodybuilder to do this. You can actually get the abs you’ve always wanted if you follow these tips below.
"Abs are made in the kitchen" they say, so let’s start off with kitchen talk.
1. Big Breakfast - Small Dinner
Breakfast should be the largest meal you consume in an entire day. But don’t just eat a granola bar. We both know that that’s not gonna satisfy your appetite. I like to think of it this way - If you eat a large breakfast in the morning, then you’re going to be less hungry during the rest of the day. And since you’ll be consuming a chunk of your calorie intake early on in the day, you’ll have time to burn those calories. So remember that the size of your meals should get smaller as the day ends.
2. H2O is the only way to go!
If you want to lose belly fat you need to keep your body well hydrated. We all know that drinking enough water is good for us, but why is it actually necessary? Well, for starters it helps you flush out all the accumulated toxins in your body, it boosts your metabolic rate, it increases energy levels, while it improves digestion. One of the reasons for being bloated is actually due to lack of water. Timing is also important! Drinking a glass of water before a meal can help you feel fuller and you will end up consuming fewer calories.
3. Fibre for fewer cals
Foods rich in soluble fibre help banish that stubborn belly fat that just won’t go away! Avocados, kidney beans, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, carrots, broccoli, figs, apricots, pears, barley, oats, flaxseeds are all good sources of soluble fibre. These high-fibre foods help you feel fuller, and in turn, will make you want to consume fewer calories.
4. Drink green tea
High metabolic rate = bye bye belly fat. Drinking 2 to 4 cups of green tea a day is thought to increase your metabolic rate thanks to an antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).
Probiotics can reduce accumulated fat in the abdominal area, keeping your tummy looking tight and toned. A good example of a probiotic food is yoghurt. However, not all yoghurts are healthy! Some contain so many sugars and flavourings that they end up having the same effect as junk food. So how can you distinguish the good stuff from the bad stuff? Read your labels! Look for the words ‘’live and active cultures’’ seal on the yoghurt to make sure you’re getting the good stuff.
6. Avoid liquid cals
Packaged fruit juices, certain energy drinks, cocktails and sodas are generally loaded with unnecessary sugars and calories. Therefore, try substituting these drinks with healthier alternatives such as fresh smoothies and homemade fresh juices and stay away from these liquid calories as much as possible!
7. Stay away from trans fats
Trans fats are an absolute nightmare if you’re trying to build a six-pack. It does not only make you fatter than other foods with the same number of calories, but it also increases fat around the belly. And not only that! Trans fats move fat from other areas in your body to your belly. Yep! They’re a real buzzkill! They are found in vegetable shortenings, fried foods, ready-made frosting, certain kinds of margarine and several baked goods such as cakes, pie crusts, cookies and crackers.
1. High - Intensity Interval Training
Do some form of high-intensity interval training, also known as HIIT! HIIT is a type of exercise which involves intense bursts of exercises and short recovery periods. HIIT burns fat and boosts weight loss and therefore makes it easier to get a six-pack. One form of HIIT which I absolutely love is Tabata training! In fact, I always involve this type of workout in my routine. Tabata training involves 20 seconds of high-intensity exercise, 10 seconds of rest and 8 rounds of the exercise again, amounting to a total of 4 minutes of the same exercise. For an example of a Tabata workout see my workout routine below.
2. Hundreds of sit-ups are not the way to go
Sit-ups are probably one of the most hyped abdominal exercises and a common misconception is that by doing hundreds of sit-ups or crunches, you will get the ultimate six-pack. False! Full body exercises will help burn fat faster and produce a much better muscle building response.
3. Train your abdominal muscles and vary the exercises
Set up a 20-minute abdominal workout and perform it after your HIIT workout. However, it is important to vary the exercises and not stick to one routine for weeks on end! Your body is very quick to adapt to change, so it’s extremely important to continuously change and mix up the exercises. If you stick to the same workout, you won’t be providing your body with much of a challenge. Challenging your body is especially important if you want to see results.
4. "Spot reduction" - another common misconception
"Spot reduction" refers to the misconception that fat can be removed from a specific area by performing only exercises that target that area. For example, if you want to get a six-pack, you only train your abs. However, this ‘theory’ is not correct (sorry)! Although it is important to train your abdominal muscles since doing so will strengthen them, it does not mean that by training ONLY your abdominal muscles, you will remove the fat stored there.
5. Hide and Seek Abs
If you solely do abdominal exercises, your muscles will strengthen and grow but they might not show since they might be hiding under layers of fat. That is why it’s extremely important to not only train the muscles but you must also burn fat. So how exactly can I get my abs to stop hiding? Perform exercises such as those involved in the Tabata workout as mentioned earlier on and by leading a healthy lifestyle and eating the right types of foods, particularly foods rich in soluble fibre, as mentioned earlier.
Below I’ll give you an example of what my workouts generally look like. I start off with a short warm up on a cardio machine, such as rowing machine, treadmill, bicycle, stepper, air walker etc. Next is my Tabata workout. This is where I really get my sweat on and when I end up absolutely breathless. Next comes my selective body part workout. Here I select a muscle group which I’m going to focus on, whether it’s abs, legs, arms, back etc. In this particular workout, I focus on my abdominal muscles. Finally, the last part of my workout is stretching (my relaxing time). I love spending time stretching at the gym since it not only helps with muscle soreness but can also help you lengthen your muscles, allowing them to regain a wider range of motion.
Rowing machine (10 - 15 minutes) or a light jog on the treadmill (10 - 15 minutes). If you’re training at home, you can try marching on the spot, jumping jacks, knee lifts, knee twists, single leg lift (total time 10 minutes).
20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest (x8 rounds of each exercise. Rest for 90 seconds between each different exercise)
- Burpees (4 minutes)
- Rest for 90 seconds
- Mountain Climbers (4 minutes)
- Rest for 90 seconds
- Squat Jumps (4 minutes)
- Rest for 90 seconds
- Push Ups (4 minutes)
(Repeat this set 3 times with a 90-second break between each set)
- x25 Crossover Running Plank
- x25 Push up to Jack Knife (using TRX or an exercise ball)
- x25 Bicycle
- x25 Commandos
- x25 Russian Twist (with weights or without. I personally always add an 8-10kg kettlebell)
- x25 Toe Touches
- x25 Flutter Kicks
Here, I try to continuously move from one exercise to the next without any rest. If I really feel tired and need to rest, I do not do so for more than a few seconds between each exercise.
The real key to getting the ultimate six-pack is to focus on eating properly, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, while you must also incorporate full body fat burning exercises in your workout (and avoid training only your abdominal muscles). If you want to achieve the ultimate six-pack, you’re gonna have to do ALL the work. There’s really no shortcut. Sorry!
Kickstart your workout plan by joining these gym & fitness clubs. Keep on discovering local with Yellow.
The Legal Bit: We strongly advise you to consult your physician before trying out the suggested food items and exercises. This article is merely for educational purposes and should not be used instead of professional medical advice. You should understand that when working out, there is the possibility of physical injury, and when trying out different foods, there might be a chance of an allergic reaction. If you choose to try out the suggested foods and exercises, you are doing so at your own risk, are voluntary participating, assume all risks to yourself and agree to release ‘Monique Farrugia’ and ‘Yellow Pages (Malta) Ltd’ from any and all claims, or causes of action, known or unknown, arising out of this article.