Are you working out every day? Wondering when those abs will start showing up?
Daily workouts are an excellent start, but in order to achieve and maintain six-pack abs, you will need strict discipline in your daily diet and training. This is by no means an unachievable task and anyone with enough focus and determination can get six-pack abs.
Let’s discuss abdominal muscles, fat, how long it will take to achieve a visible six-pack and how anyone can do it.
Abdominal muscles are at the core of your body under your diaphragm, they maintain balance and postural support of your body while performing movements. There are 4 main abdominal muscles including,
- Transverse Abdominis
- Rectus Abdominis
- External Oblique
- Internal Oblique
These muscles make up the entire abdominal muscle structure we refer to as abs. Strengthening all of them is important for a strong core and six-pack. To achieve visible and strong six-pack abs, it is important to lose body fat, especially the fat that covers your abdomen.
The National Library of Medicine says abdominal obesity, or belly fat, also puts you at higher risk for diabetes and heart disease, which is why being informed and taking action is the best option.
The fat covering your abdomen is made up of two types:
- Subcutaneous Fat
This is the layer of fat directly underneath your skin, you can feel it when you pinch your belly. This wiggly and visible fat is not entirely harmful to your health as it stores the necessary calories your body burns when you are running low on calories.
- Visceral Fat
Visceral fat is fat that surrounds your internal organs, you cannot visibly see or touch it. This fat actively releases hormones and compounds that promote several harmful, disease-related processes in your body.
You will need to get rid of these types of excessive fat to visibly see a six-pack abdomen. This can be a lengthy process depending on your current body fat levels.
How Long Till Your Six-Pack Abs Show?
When it comes to six-pack abs, American Council on Exercise (ACE) classifies it in the ‘athlete’ category which requires maintaining 14-20% body fat for women and 6-13% for men. There are no hard measures for the exact time required to achieve six-pack abs.
It all depends on your current body weight, body fat percentage, diet and exercise routine.
Given that 1% loss of body fat is safe, healthy and achievable, it will take a woman at average body fat level anywhere between 20-26 months of 1% fat loss to achieve six-pack abs. A man, at average body fat level, will require 15-21 months of 1% fat loss to achieve the same.
Body fat levels and fat loss percentages differ in men and women because they both have different ideal body fat requirements. Women require a higher ideal body fat percentage to maintain healthy menstruation and the ability to have children.
Now that you can calculate and get an idea of how long it may take you to achieve six-pack abs, let’s see how you can go about doing it.
How to Achieve Six-Pack Abs
Anyone can achieve six-pack abs by reducing their body fat percentage through diet and regular exercise routines that include cardio and strength training which target your abdomen for stronger, more refined muscles. Here’s how:
As with any weight loss diet, the calories you burn must be more than the calories you eat. You can lose a pound of weight every week by cutting 500 calories a day from your diet. You can adjust this cut in calories by calculating the calories you burn through exercise.
If you burn 200 calories with your daily exercise routine, then reducing 300 calories of dietary intake per day is acceptable. Conversely, you will need to maintain muscle mass during weight loss to mitigate the loss of lean muscle that results from dieting.
An increase in your daily protein intake will help you maintain your muscle mass during weight loss. The easiest way to calculate the amount of daily protein you need is by adding 1-1.5 grams of protein for every two pounds of body weight.
If you weigh 150 pounds, you will need between 80-100 grams of daily protein intake to maintain healthy muscle mass. Losing fat is the key and there is no other way to achieve six-pack abs, exercise will only help with weight loss and to build strong abdominal muscles.
- Cardio and Strength Training
Cardio and exercise will help you lose fat, build lean muscle and achieve six-pack abs. You want to incorporate the following training techniques and exercises in your routine for the best results.
- High-Intensity Intermittent Training (HIIT)
HIIT is a type of interval training where you increase the intensity of your exercise for short periods between less intense recovery periods, till failure. Incorporating HIIT in your cardio routine, like running or cycling, will help greatly with weight loss.
You can sprint for 20-30 seconds in between 40-50 seconds of jogging or walking during your run. Similarly, you can cycle at high intensity for 10-12 seconds every 15 seconds of cycling, till you are exhausted.
- Targeted Exercising
Targeting your abs through exercising will help form strong and visible abdominal muscles that help improve balance, core strength and reduce back pains. You can incorporate crunches, twists and side bending in your routine to target abs.
Daily targeted exercising of abdominal muscles is important to shape and strengthen your abs. However, rest is important as well, if your abdominal muscles are overworked, you can skip targeted exercise for a day. Instead, work your abs in that day’s warm-up routine through planks and other balance exercises.
Always remember, ‘spot reduction’ is a huge misconception that states exercising a specific body part will help lose fat in that area. Exercising your abs will make them stronger but you will only be able to see them and achieve a six-pack by losing overall body fat which covers your abdomen.
If you maintain discipline, a healthy diet and regular exercise, you can achieve anything, including six-pack abs. Train your abs every single day and focus on your diet because without proper diet, you will never be able to lose the fat that hides your abdominal muscles.
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