When people start looking to sculpt their body, one of the main areas of focus is the abs. Who doesn't want a strong, sexy, shredded six pack? Unfortunately, people tend to go about this process in entirely the wrong way.
Doing sit ups until you are blue in the face will not give you a six pack. Concentrating ALL of your efforts on your stomach will not give you a six pack. You need to take a more rounded approach.
First of all, you can't spot reduce fat. Doing ab workouts alone will not trim your middle. Fat loss occurs all over your body. So, to boost this burn it's best to engage your largest muscle groups. Working the legs and glutes, for example, ups your fat burning potential by revving your metabolism and increasing your calorie burn. When you tackle your overall body fat, you give those muscle building and toning ab exercises a chance to show what they can do. Think about it, you can't see those muscles if they are covered in a layer of fat. Work your entire body and your core can't help but follow! It is important to remember that muscle burns fat. The more muscle you have, the more fat you can burn so don't neglect the rest of your body in an attempt to whittle your middle.
Second, abs are made in the kitchen. That's right, you can't lose fat and slim down if you are filling yourself with junk food. You will never be able to out work excess or empty calories! It is important that you fill your diet with nutrient dense foods full of healthy fats, protein and fibers. These foods will help you to feel full and satisfied for longer periods while helping you avoid overeating. It isn't necessary to avoid carbs completely, as they can be a useful way to fuel your body, especially pre-workout, but you do need to be careful about the types of carbs you are consuming. If it is processed, comes in a package, and/or has an ingredient list full of things you don't recognize and can't pronounce, don't eat it. Stick to fruits, vegetables, lean meats, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Eat real food, as close to its natural source as possible. This is the best way to ensure you are getting the important vitamins, nutrients and minerals your body needs to support all the work you are doing. If you require a little bit of guidance in this department and are looking for a plan that will not only teach you how to eat but provide you with easy to follow and delicious recipes, The BodyRock Meal Plan is just the thing for you. It's 30 days of nothing but good, clean, healthy, and scrumptious, food. Getting your diet right has never been easier!
None of this is to say that you shouldn't have ab-focused workouts, it's just a way helping you understand that you can't neglect your diet or working the rest of your body if you want hard abs. Now that you have this information, it's time to get a real understanding of your core muscles. If only do sit ups or crunches, you'll never get the definition you desire. You won't get this definition because those moves only work a specific set of muscles in the core, neglecting the rest. The core is actually made up of multiple muscle groups, and you'll have to work all of them to not only chisel your look but to create strength and balance in your core. Your abs work with your back to support your entire body and if you neglect one for the other, you risk throwing your posture out of whack and causing pain and/or injury. Here are 6 muscles to keep in mind when thinking about your core:
Rectus Abdominus: These are the muscles people usually mean when they talk about the 'abs.' They are a flat band of muscle that runs from your sternum to your pelvis. This is the muscle that produces that obvious, six pack look.
Internal Obliques: These muscles run from your lower rib cage into your pelvic iliac crest. Your iliac crest is the top, outer part of your pelvic bone. They are located underneath the external obliques.
External Obliques: These muscles run in a diagonal from your lower ribs to the iliac crest, along the side of your torso.
Transverse Abdominus: This is the deepest of the ab muscles and wraps around your spine to provide your body with stability.
Latissimus Dorsi: These muscles connect from your lower spine, along your lower back and into your lower ribs. They are the largest muscle in the back. These muscles help with rotation of the shoulder joint and helps with extension and lateral movements in the spine.
Trapezius: These are triangle shaped muscles that run from the mid back into the shoulders. These muscles help with shoulder movement and rotation.
When building your core, you cannot neglect strength and stability which is why it is supremely important that you focus on all these muscles, the obliques in particular. Some great moves that use all these muscles are things like planks, v-sit ups, kettle bell swings, and bicycle crunches.
If you want to build your core properly, and don't know where to begin, try our Strong & Sexy Abs: Five Day Challenge!
This five day, HIIT challenge will work your core from all angles, helping you to tone and tighten in the process! It is full of moves to create definition while increasing balance and strength! Learn more here.
The moral of the story here is to take a whole body approach to your six pack. Yes, work on your abs but don't neglect your diet, fat loss efforts, or other muscle groups!
Your body is a machine and to work properly, it all has to work together!