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Abs Are Made In The Kitchen

A very common goal many people have in the gym is to get their abs to show. There is also a misconception that doing ab workouts alone will get your abs to show. This is not true because if your body fat percentage remains high your abs will not show. Doing ab workouts correctly will certainly build your abdominal muscles but in order for them to show you will need to lower your body fat percentage.

One of the misconceptions is that doing ab exercises will reduce belly fat. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that 6 weeks of direct ab training 5 days per week did not reduce belly fat in overweight people. This concludes that only performing ab exercises will not get you a six pack.

How Do I Get A Six Pack?

Lower your body fat percentage and build the abdominal muscles. In order to lose fat you have to be at a caloric deficit. The most effective way to create a caloric deficit is to eat less. This could also be done by exercising more but it is much harder to get the results you're looking for with exercise alone and it's also more difficult to sustain. For example a 180lb person walking 1 mile only burns roughly 100 calories. 1 banana is also about 100 calories so for most people it is much easier to cut something like a banana out of their daily diet than adding a 1 mile walk. Obviously combining the two by eating a little less and exercising a little more will lead to optimal results. Below Is a calculator to find out a rough estimate of about how many calories you should be eating depending on your goals.

How Do I Avoid Muscle Loss?

Make sure to include resistance training into your routine in order to retain the muscle mass while losing fat and trimming down. A meta analysis on NCBI, compared the effectiveness of a calorie deficit alone, a calorie deficit plus cardio and and a calorie deficit plus resistance training on body composition of overweight individuals. They found that a caloric deficit combined with resistance training provided maximal results for burning fat and increasing muscle mass. It is also critical to track your bodyweight and progress by making sure the strength is still there in the gym and looking in the mirror to see the changes in body composition you want to see.

Why perform ab exercises and when do they come in to play?

When following the steps, lowering body fat and consistently resistance training we need to lastly focus on building our abdominal muscles separately. We need to do this because compound movements and many resistance training exercises do not stimulate the abs as well as performing exercises specifically for the abs. An article from The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that activation of the abs and obliques when performing a back squat was less than 20%. When comparing this to a standard sit up which led to around 40% activation. This is why consistently training your abs will give you that six pack that you are looking for after shedding off the fat that they are hiding under.

How much weight should I be losing per week and when will my abs show?

According to PubMed, setting a goal to lose around 0.7% of your body weight per week is most appropriate to maximize fat loss while retaining muscle mass. For example a person who weighs 150lbs would want to lose about 1.1 pounds per week. At around 10%-12% body fat or below you will start to see a six pack. Just remember fat will also come off of other parts of your body so you will look more skinny in places like your face and arms because fat will most likely come off of those places first. That is why it is called stubborn belly fat.

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