Six Steps to a Six Pack

The six pack is not going anywhere.  It is often the most wanted outcome of a fitness program.  The biggest mistake with trying to obtain a six pack, or a flat stomach in general, is spending too much time on your back doing crunches, jack knives and leg lifts. 

Shane_Jenne_NSCA_Personal_Trainer

1. Mobilize.  Take at least 15 minutes every day to work on those nagging stiff areas of your body; this will improve injury prevention.  Nothing is worse than killing it in the gym then having to take weeks, if not months rehabbing an injury losing everything you worked so hard to get.  

2. No carbs before you workout.  We all have a six pack, right?  It's just hiding.  Burning fat is essential to let all six of them show.  Your meal plans should be structured around eating a protein and fat-rich preworkout meal and keeping the carbohydrate (and protein) for recovery post-workout.  My favorite preworkout meal is scrabbled eggs, kale and cherubs all mixed together in a skillet topped with a sliced avocado.

3. Sprint.  Interval training (an exercise mode focused around a work:rest ratio) is also known as metabolic training.  The idea is to sprint down a given distance, say a basketball court (work), walk back to the start (rest) and repeat..  This exercise prescription is highly demanding which burns calories long after the actual workout is complete.  

4. Eat clean.  This idea is simple.  It is known across the world.  It is also very difficult to do.  Simple never meant easy, right?  My "What Should I Eat?" article offers a sample meal plan of a ideal low-calorie day.  Note: your "diet" doesn't have to evolve around a low-calorie approach. 

5. Lift heavy core lifts.  The term "core lifts" refers to the fundamental compound movements (i.e., back squat, dead lift and bench press).  With a solid foundation with these lifts, you should experiment with lifting heavier.  When you back squat (that is, with a bar on your back) your abs are firing to stabilize your whole body.  Without your abs, aside from being flubber on the ground, you would either roll forward and face plant or over extend and snap your body in half.  The heavier, with proper form, the higher the demand for your core to stabilize your body during this movement.

6. Protein.  Ah, at last, BRO-TEIN.  Do not mistake protein only being appropriate for males, it is also absolutely essential for females.  I recommend that you aim for 1.2 g/kg protein a day.  The amount of protein needed is based on bodyweight.  Find your baseline protein allowance using the formula below and then divide it by the number of meals you typically consume daily.  This will promise an even spread of protein throughout the day.

Example calculation: 150lbs bodyweight ÷ 2.204 = 68kg × 1.2g of protein = 82g of protein a day