Whether you’ve set yourself a goal to develop a six-pack or you’re keen to maintain the one you’ve got, it can be a tough challenge.
With so many elements to understand, from knowing your body’s needs to managing expectations and carving out the time to meet your fitness requirements, it can be hard to know where to start.
So, if you want to start building strong abs and strengthen your core but you’re not too sure where to begin, Dean Zwech, Product Development Manager at Total Fitness, has shared his step-by-step guide on the most effective way to build up your core.
Don’t Ditch the Cardio
It’s a common misconception that when trying to form abs you should only focus on gaining muscle, whether through deadlifts or crunches.
These are great to incorporate into your ab training sessions to build up your core strength, however, combining cardio into every workout is a must. Cardio is crucial for burning fat which is a key element in getting the defined look we all know as a six-pack.
So, next time you’re at the gym put the weights down for a while and get your heart racing with the rowing machine. It not only gives your body a full workout, but it also helps to maintain core control, allowing you to give your body the balanced exercise it needs.
Focusing on your abs is essential to getting a six-pack, however, your abs are just one group of muscles in your core. Your core is made up of your internal and external obliques on the side, your lower back and deep muscles such as your transverse abdominis and pelvic floor.
Together these muscles work to help provide posture, balance and improve performance. Only focusing on crunches may limit the results you see in not only your appearance but also your performance. Having a stronger core also decreases the risk of injury.
If developing abs is your main goal, allocate specific days for abdominal training to make sure you are hitting your target.
However, if you just want to improve your overall core strength and stability incorporate exercises such as planks, side planks, hanging knee lifts, Russian Twists and Bird Dogs into your routine.
As your core is needed throughout your entire workout, an ideal time to train your core is at the end of a workout so you don’t fatigue these muscles too early.
Pack The Protein
As we all know, it’s important to fuel our bodies when doing any form of exercise. When it comes to building muscle, swapping a few carbs or fat for extra protein is a huge help.
With our muscles tearing slightly during exercise, protein is a vital part of the body’s recovery process, with amino acids helping to repair muscles, allowing them to grow.
However, many can get fixated on packing in too much protein and struggle to see the desired change in definition. Maintaining a balanced diet, while also mixing up your dinner plate with lean proteins, such as pulses and white fish, allows your body to get the protein it needs with less fat – which is ideal for toning and sculpting.
Also, don’t banish all carbohydrates – complex carbs such as whole grains and veggies are essential for keeping your body fuelled, allowing you to reach your goals quicker.
Keep At It
Gaining a six-pack takes a lot of determination, with many not seeing the desired results for up to a year. This is because you must maintain the balance between body fat and body muscle.
It’s also important to understand that everybody is different, your abs can vary according to a range of factors including: genetics, diet and body fat levels.
Don’t feel disheartened if you’re not seeing the results you anticipated straight away, you’ve just got to keep striving – the dedication you put into your health through fitness will show over time.
So, if you’re setting out on your ab journey, it’s important to develop your fitness routine, making sure you take your time to perfect a schedule that fits your abdominal needs.
With hard work and persistence, you’ll be able to reach your goals at a steady pace and still include everyday exercises to keep your fitness journey on track.