6 Tips That Build Six-Pack Abs with Exercise and Diet

Everyone wants "Six Pack Abs." While it's not always easy to get strong, sexy abdominal muscles, you can find your inner six-pack, or at least a stronger, flatter midsection, when you combine healthy eating, with a solid fitness routine that includes endurance, strength, and specific exercises for your abs and core.​

1

Clean Up Your Diet

Healthy diet for better abs
Healthy diet for better abs. Patricia Granlund/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

The first step to finding your six-pack is to clean up your diet. If you want to see your ab muscles, you'll likely need to decrease your overall body fat. Cut back on processed foods, sugars, and processed carbs. Eat more vegetables, nuts, fruits, lean protein, and healthy fats, such as olive oil, fish oils, and avocados.

Try to include healthy foods at each meal. Eat some protein for breakfast, lots of vegetables, fruits, and fiber and drink water rather than calorie-laden beverages. However, moderation is key.

Some healthy foods (like nuts and avocado) are high in (healthy) fat and calories. While it's smart to include them in your diet, try to include them in moderation.

Bottom line: eat more high quality, nutrient-rich foods and eat fewer empty, processed calories.

2

Add High Intensity Training

If you want to get fit faster and burn more calories in less time, don't spend all your time in the so-called fat-burning zone. Instead, add some high-intensity training (HIT) to your workouts a couple of times each week. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, you can burn more calories in less time with short, high-intensity exercise.

High-Intensity Interval Training is a great way to strengthen abdominal muscles while boosting cardiovascular fitness.

You can also boost your overall cardiovascular fitness with this type of training. Be sure to slowly ramp up your intensity, however, or you could wind up with an injury.​

3

Perform Regular Cardio

Aerobic exercise is one of the safest ways to burn lots of calories over a long period of time while maintaining heart health. Simply modifying your diet or reducing your calories without exercise will lead to initial weight loss, but you'll likely reach a plateau and you may also lose muscle.

A personal exercise plan that has a solid base of cardiovascular exercise will help you maintain exercise for the long-term, overcome weight loss plateaus, and maintain your muscle mass.

So get out for a nice long walk, a hike, a bike ride or a swim on a regular basis. Park the car and walk for most of your errands and just get moving more often.

4

Build More Muscle

Strength training is an essential part of most fitness routines, but if you want a six pack, building more muscle can help. Strength training with weight lifting not only helps build muscle, but that muscle can help boost your metabolism and increase muscle definition.

If performed as part of a high-intensity interval workout, it can also be a great way to burn lots of calories in a short time. Strengthening the muscles, tendons, and ligaments also helps reduce strain on the joints which ultimately can help prevent many sports injuries.

5

Do Abdominal and Core Exercises

Once you've reduced the layer of body fat to the point where your six-pack is starting to show, performing specific ab and core strengthening exercises will make them much more visible.

Once you understand how to safely exercise your abs, you'll find core exercises are most effective when the torso works as a solid unit and both front and back muscles contract at the same time, and you perform multi-joint movements. Key exercises include:

  • Plank: Learn how to do it properly and maintain a straight line from ears to toes. Hold it for 10 seconds and over time build up to 30, 45 or 60 seconds.
  • Bicycle crunches: The bicycle crunch is another great core exercise that engages many muscles at once to help work the core in every possible way. Add this to your ab routine if you don't already do it.
  • Vertical knee raise (or captain's chair): This exercise requires some gym equipment, so check around your health club and give it a try.
  • Crunches on an exercise ball: These days many people already have an exercise ball at home, so if you've got one give this exercise a try.
6

Play Sports

One of the best ways to get six pack abs is by playing sports that burn the fat and engage the core naturally. Athletes who play sports that naturally engage both the upper and lower body in powerful, repetitive movements have a great six-pack as a by-product of playing a sport they love.

For example, sports like soccer, basketball, and swimming burn calories and require you to engage core muscles during the activity. Why not get your six-pack while having fun?

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  1. American College of Sports Medicine. High-Intensity Interval Training.