We’ve all seen them on television and in fitness or fashion magazines – pictures of fit men showing off their abs. A six-pack in truth is quite desirable. Women love it and men like to show offer their perfectly chiseled abs at the beach, pool or any other appropriate setting.
Unfortunately, a six-pack abs is not an innate physical attribute. You have to work hard for them, which is a task that many people fail at or simply find insurmountable when carrying layers of stomach fat.There is no secret when it comes to building well-toned abdominal muscles. We know for a fact that dieting and consistent exercise are both essential to getting rid of belly fat. And there are no other shortcuts if you want to develop well-toned muscular abs. Both of these lifestyle changes will also require a lot of dedication, patience and time investment.
This article will help you learn the kind of food you should eat and the type of exercises you need to do to reach your desired goal. Keep reading and discover the fastest way to get ripped 6 packs abs in weeks.
Working hard and doing the right type of exercise will not be enough in your quest to have lean, muscular 6-packs abs. You also need to watch your diet and have a strategy in place to ensure what you eat does not stand in the way of all your hard work. Your strategy will involve figuring out your daily calorie intake and tailoring it to meet the amount of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and fluids required to make you succeed in the shortest time possible. This could mean making an entire change in your lifestyle, controlling cravings for fast foods, getting the right amount of sleep and drinking enough fluids.
When designing a diet for building six pack abs, keep in mind that your food choices ultimately depend on individual fitness goals. For people with belly fat, weight loss has to be factored into the equation. In this case, a low-calorie diet will be required. If you already have a flat belly and only need to tone it, then a protein rich diet will be essential in making sure that you build core muscles. In either case, it is important to balance your diet with the following major food groups.
You need a high protein intake to help you build muscles and develop your 6 packs abs. Proteins will boost your body’s metabolism, keep you from feeling hungry and prevent the loss of lean muscle-mass.
Having the right balance of carbohydrates intake is very effective in burning body fat. As you lower your carbohydrates intake and workout, the body will burn more body fat, reduce water retention and make you appear leaner.
However, a long period of low carbohydrate diet will cause your energy levels to drop sharply and make the body’s metabolism drop. Strict low carbohydrates levels diets can reduce your ability to produce glycogen needed for building and maintaining muscle, and cause the build- up of the stress hormone cortisol. You should take at least 25-50 grams of carbohydrates before and after strenuous workout sessions, together with some vegetables to get your metabolism fired up.
It is also advisable to eat larger quantities of carbohydrates after every three to four weeks in order to keep your metabolism stable. In this period, you should focus complex carbohydrates instead of simple sugars from processed food and at the same time keep your protein intake constant. If done correctly this process is very beneficial in getting fast results and preventing fat from been regained.
Limit your daily dietary intake of fat to a few grams per day. Ideally, go for unsaturated fats since they have lower “bad cholesterol” levels. Good sources of healthy fat include fish, fish oil, flax seeds, flaxseed oil, nuts and olive oil. A long- term maintenance diet should provide up to 15% fat of daily total caloric intake but you need to lower this to get the best results.
Avoid fat right before and after your workout as this will slow down digestion. Prior to workouts, you should only take proteins and carbohydrates as these nutrients are easier to digest and will provide energy as well as support recovery. You can add 4-7 grams of fat to your other meals during the day depending on your calorie requirements.
- Stay Hydrated
You should drink plenty of water and avoid sugary beverages like sodas and processed juices. Water helps clear the body of toxins and boost your metabolism. People who drink plenty of water lose more weight and keep it off longer.
How to Set Calorie Intake
To get your daily calorie intake total, multiply your body weight in pounds by 9-13 calories. You should start your calorie intake from the higher end then work your way down according to the progress you make.
Calculate the calories for each group of foods in the manner shown below:
A high protein intake is needed so take 1.2 to 1.5 grams per pound of your body weight and multiply by 4 to get the number of calorie of protein you should eat each day.
- Other Nutrients
Subtract your protein daily intake from your daily calorie intake to get the calories left over for carbohydrates and fat.
Set your carbohydrates levels to 25-50 grams before and after your workout, multiply by 4 calories per grams to get your carbohydrates intake. Add the remaining calories to other meals.
Set your fat intake with the remaining calories from the above calculations and multiply by 9 calories per gram.
You will see varying calorie levels during the week if you stick to your plan of cycling carbohydrates in your diet.
The Workout Program
The workout program involves challenging exercises but completing at least one set of each will offer a good start. Aim for one set of each routine and stick to exercising at least three days a week. Try 8-12 repetitions for each exercise and always maintain good form. If you manage to work your way up to 15 repetitions, complete the workout and still feel energetic, rest for 90-120 seconds and add another set to the routine.
The set of exercises detailed below will work and strengthen all the major muscle groups around the midsection. These muscles include the Rectus Abdominis (the muscle most visible in the front your abs), the Transverse Abdominis (the muscle behind the rectus abdominis, which is also the deepest muscle tissue in the abdominal wall), the external and internal obliques (these are the muscles on the sides of your midsection and are the largest in this group of muscles).
Most Effective Exercises to Get Abs Quick
The most effective exercises and simple exercise equipment that can help you develop six packs abs in the fastest time possible include Leg Raises, Sit Ups, the Abs Roller, Lose Love Handle with Side Bends and other exercises like the Plank, Ball Plank and Pullup to Knee Raise.
- Leg Raises
The leg raise is a perfect exercise for the lower abdominal and hip flexor muscles. Doing leg raises regularly will strengthen the lower back, improve posture and reduce the risk of back injuries.
You can perform them on a bench, floor or add weights by holding a dumbbell or ball between your legs to make the exercise more intense.
You need a mat to lie on and perform the exercise as follows:
- Lie flat on your back on the floor with your arms flat on the side of the body palms facing down.
- Your head, bottom, and legs should all be straight, and flat on the floor.
- Keep the core engaged and slowly lift your legs of the floor keeping them straight while you grasp the side of the floor with the hands.
- Raise the legs until they form a 90 degree angle with your torso. Ensure to keep them straight by avoiding bending the knees.
- Pause for a second or two then slowly bring the legs back down keeping them straight all the time.
- Repeat the exercise 8-12 times.
- Sit Ups
The sit up has a range of motion that works the abdominal muscles as well as the hips and helps build strong core muscles. You can perform sit- ups anywhere and all you need is a flat surface and a small amount of space. If you experience back pains, it is better to do sit-ups on a gym ball to help cushion your spine.
You can use a mat to lie on and do sit-ups as follows:
- Lie on the floor with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Place your fingertips behind the ears with the shoulder blades back so that the elbows are out on the side of the head.
- Engage your abs and raise the body up toward the knees with finger tips still behind the ears and elbows out on the side of the head.
- The head should look straight with feet firmly on the ground and you should not bend your head and place the chin on your chest.
- Slowly lower your body to the starting position and repeat the exercise 8-12 times.
- Ab Roller
An ab roller is a small wheel with a handle through the centre. Sometimes called the ab wheel, it is used for an abs strengthening exercise called the ab roll out.
The ab roll out is an effective ab strengthening exercise and can be done in a number of different ways. You can kneel, stand, roll up and down a hill, or wear a weighted vest or back pack to make the workout more intense.
The fact that you can use the ab roller in different variations makes it ideal for both beginners and seasoned fitness enthusiasts. Pushing the roller along the floor away from you and then pulling it back towards you will work your arms, chest, shoulders, upper back, hips, lower back and thighs, giving you a total body workout.
The ab roller is portable and does not require much space giving it an advantage over other abs exercise equipment. It is ideal for home use and easy to carry when you are traveling.
You can do your workout with the ab roller in the following ways:
- Kneeling Ab Wheel Roll Outs
Knelling rollouts are easier to do than standing roll outs and are ideal for beginners or people who want a less strenuous abs workout. The further you push the roller from you and the closer to the floor your chest and outstretched arms are, the harder the exercise will be.
- Standing Ab Wheel Roll Outs
Standing rollouts are harder than their kneeling variety and require good abdominal strength because of the range of motion involved. Standing rollouts also work the rest of your muscles because you have to stay tight to prevent your hips from dropping and arms from bending.
- Uphill and Downhill Roll Outs
You can make abdominal roll outs easier or harder by using inclines. Rolling uphill makes the exercise easier while downhill is harder. You can also make kneeling and standing rolls outs more intense by doing them on slopes.
- Weighted Vest Rollouts
Wearing a weighted vest will make abdominal wheel roll out exercise much harder whether you are doing kneeling, standing or uphill/downhill workouts. Be careful not to put on too much weight as letting your back sag can cause injury. Use a weighted vest only when you are strong enough and can do your rollouts with perfect form.
- Lose Love Handle with Side Bends
Love handles are the flesh above the waistline on the obliques or the side of the abdominal wall. You can lose unwanted fat on your love handles by doing side bends using a dumbbell in the following manner:
- Stand up straight with your chest out and feet at shoulder width while holding a dumbbell in your left hand and right hand on your waist
- With your chest out and back straight, bend at the waist to the right side without moving your upper body. Hold the bent position for a second then come back to the initial position
- Bend to the right again following the above routine and repeat at least 20 times
- Switch the dumbbell to the right hand, follow the above routine and bent to the left about 20 times.
Some trainers recommend holding a dumbbell in each hand while doing this exercise since it gives you better balance and form. Others argue that this is counter-productive because the other dumbbell acts as a counterweight and reduces the effect of the bend. You can choose the version that makes you comfortable. Avoid using very heavy weight as this could injure your spine.
One of the most popular exercises with trainers is the plank. This exercise uses the body’s weight to work abdominal muscles as well as the shoulders, back, arms, legs, glutes and improves core strength.
Plank exercises work all major core muscle groups like the rectus abdominus, transverse abdominus, external oblique muscle and the glutes muscles to develop a flat and toned belly.
Plank workouts do not put much pressure on the spinal column and hips and thus help reduce back pain and the risk to injury. They improve posture, flexibility and boost metabolism.
The basic plank requires you to hold the body off the ground while resting your weight on the arms and toes. The body should be in a straight line from the head to the heels.
You can do the plank in many variations with and without equipment to work different areas of the body.
Top 14 plank exercises include:
- forearm plank
- straight arm plank
- uneven plank, single arm plank
- plank with arm and leg lift
- side plank
- side plank crunches
- caterpillar plank
- dolphin plank
- plank jacks
- rolling plank
- knee to elbow plank
- reverse plank
- reverse plank with leg lift
We shall detail four of the most common plank exercises practiced as follows.
- The Forearm Plank
This is considered the standard plank and works all the major muscles, the arms, shoulders, hips, core, and legs at the same time.
- Lie face down with elbows bent directly under the shoulders and hands clasped together.
- Your feet should be hip-width apart and elbows shoulder-width apart.
- Raise your body and rest your weight on the elbows, forearms and toes keeping your body straight from the head to the heels with tight contracted abs muscles.
- Hold that position for about 60 seconds and then relax.
- Straight Arm Plank
This exercise uses your body’s weight to tone abdominal wall muscles. It also targets the arms and shoulders.
- Start in a kneeling position on the floor with hands below the shoulders.
- Place your hands on the floor palms down and raise your body until the feet are straight, and the hands and toes support the weight of your body.
- Keep your body straight from head to the heels, hands and feet straight with core muscles tight.
- Hold this position for 60 seconds and then relax.
- Side Plank
The side plank works the entire core muscles, improves flexibility, balance and mainly targets the oblique muscles.
- Start in a straight arm plank position pressing your right arm into the mat.
- Rotate your body to the side with the left foot stacked on the right foot, right arm straight and firm on the floor and left arm straight and extended towards the ceiling.
- Keep your abs tight with the body straight from head to foot with the weight of your body being supported by your right hand and side of the right foot.
- Hold this position for about 60 seconds, return to the plank position and repeat the exercise with the left arm.
- Ball Plank
The ball plank exercise will strengthen the core muscles and tone the abdominal wall muscles. You can do the exercise on a stability ball as follows:
- Get into a plank position and support your body with your chest and forearms on a stability ball and toes on the floor.
- Lift your chest off the ball with your forearms supporting your upper body keeping your head, back, legs straight and lower body supported by your toes.
- Hold this position with abs and body muscles tight for as long as possible and eventually build up to 60 seconds.
- Pullup to Knee Raise
The Pullup to knee Raise combines the pulldown and crunch exercise to work your arms, abs, back, improve pullup strength and stabilize the whole body. A fun fact about knee raises is that you can do them in the pullup position (that is while clinging on a bar) to build strength in all muscle groups of the body. What’s more, pullup to knee raises work your abs harder than they could if you were to do this exercise with your feet placed on the floor for support. With this routine, you can build big muscles on the back and develop ripped six packs abs.
Here is how you do the workout:
- Grab a bar over your head with hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart and hang on it.
- Pull your body up to bring your chin above the bar and hold.
- Contract your abs and raise your knees to the chest.
- Slowly lower your knees and then your body to the starting position.
- Do three sets with each set having 8-10 repetitions.
- Weight Training or Body Weight Training
Weight training is a type of strength training for developing the size and strength of the body’s skeletal muscles. You use weighted bars, dumbbells or stacked weights to contract body muscles and build bigger muscles, strong bones and increased strength.
Some of the common weight training exercises that also help develop six pack abs are squats, bench press and pull-ups.
Squats are a vital exercise for increasing the size and strength of the legs, buttocks, core muscles, lower back as well as develop abdominal muscles. The squat is one of the routines used in the sport of power lifting.
- Begin from a standing position with dumbbells in the hands or weighted bar held behind the head across the upper back
- Lower the torso by bending the knees and moving the hips back with the weighted bar held firmly then return to the standing position
- The torso and shin should be vertical throughout the exercise to keep the spine vertebra aligned and help prevent low back injuries
- Bench Press
The bench press is a full body exercise and targets the chest, shoulders, arms, legs and midsection. The exercise is effective in building upper body strength, engage core muscles and help you develop abs. This is how you do a bench press:
- Lie on the flat bench with eyes under the bar, feet on the floor, lift your chest and squeeze your shoulder blades
- Hold the bar firmly with the base of your palm and with wrists straight
- Unpack the bar by straightening your arms and move it over your shoulders with the elbows locked
- Lower the bar to your mid-chest keeping your elbows at 750 with forearm vertical and hold your breath at the bottom
- Lift the bar from the mid-chest to above the shoulders. Keep your buttock on the bench and lock your elbows once you are at the top.
- Repeat as many times as possible.
- Pull Ups
Few people attempt to do pull-ups, as they are very challenging to do and are a test of someone’s fitness level. Pull-ups will work the arms, shoulders, chest, neck, back, abs core muscles and will help you develop 6-packs abs. You can perform pull-ups as follows:
- Grab a bar with your arms slightly wider than the shoulders and hands facing away from you and hang on it
- Pull yourself up until the chin is above the bar and pause for 1-3 seconds
- Slowly lower yourself down to the starting position and repeat the exercise progressively until you can do 3 sets of 12 repetitions.
- Losing Fat
If you are completely out of shape, chances are that you will also be looking to lose weight on your quest to get six pack abs. Burning belly fat requires you to create a calorie deficit. This means, you should take in less calories in your diet and burn more through exercise.
Nutritionists suggest that you need to burn at least 3,500 calories per week to lose one pound of fat. People starting on a weight loss program will usually begin losing body fat if they consume 13 calories per pound of body weight, provided they workout 3-5 days a week. You may need to lower your intake to 9-10 calories per pound of body weight as you progress and this might have an effect on the body’s metabolism.
To avoid your body metabolism from crushing, it is necessary to take higher calories/carbohydrates when you have a heavy workout and lower them on days you have less strenuous workouts.
An intense hour-long workout will burn 800-1000 calories. If you are active and burn 600-800 calories in other activities, expect to lose one pound of weight per week. You will see changes in your abs quickly as your body burns fat in your entire body and not just one area.
Doing cardio workouts, eating the right type/amount of food and getting enough sleep will help you lose fat, develop your abdominal muscles and archive your goal in the shortest time possible.
- Cardio Workouts
Cardio workouts are intervals of intense workouts that make your heart rate go up, and will burn fat better than prolonged workouts of the same intensity.
To develop ripped 6-packs abs you need to get rid of layers of fat on your midsection. You can have muscles covered by layers of fat that make it impossible to notice your abs muscles. Cardio workouts can help you lose fat and reveal the muscles underneath.
Examples of cardio workouts include jogging, rowing, bike riding, and other workouts that will raise your heart rate like interval training.
Interval training involves short burst of intense workouts followed by long periods of less intense workouts. Studies show that cyclist who practiced interval training for 20 minutes a day in a 4 months period, lost 4 pounds more than other participants who cycled at the same speed for 40 minutes.
Do cardio workout, together with other workouts mentioned in this article, for about one hour3-5 times a week to help you lose fat in the midsection and develop 6-packs abs.
- Eating Appropriately
Diet plays an important part in your workout strategy and you not only have to eat the right food but also eat at the right time.
More Tips to Build Ripped Six Pack Abs in Weeks!
- Eat Smaller Meals Late at Night
Meals taken late at night are usually stored as fat because people tend to eat food with a lot of starch and the calories taken are not burned off before you go to sleep. Your body metabolism works even when you are asleep and it is only that most people eat food rich in starch instead of vegetables. Here is what you need to do:
- Eat more at lunch time and during the day to avoid feeling hungry before dinner
- Eat fruits, vegetables, nuts at dinner as they are good for you and will also make you feel full
- Drink a large glass of water or tea before dinner to make you feel full and eat less food.
- Eat Breakfast
Eat a healthy breakfast to jump-start your metabolism and keep you from eating more food latter on. Skipping breakfast because you don’t have time will harm you weight loss program as you will eat more latter and increase pressure on your resting metabolism by about 10% the rest of the day.
- Eat protein that don’t have a lot of fat in the morning instead of cream cheese and bagels
- Eat eggs-white omelet with spinach, turkey, blueberries, bananas and salmon with whole grain toast
- Avoid eating sugary cereals, starch such as refined white bread, potatoes etc.
- Avoid low fat drinks, fresh fruit drinks mixed with milk, yogurt, ice cream etc.
- Keep your Metabolism Steady
There are foods that will slow down your metabolism and you need to avoid them to keep your weight loss program on track. They include:
- Refined Carbohydrates: Such as rice, pasta, white bread etc.
- Sugar: Sugar is absorbed quickly but it slows down your metabolism
- High Fat Foods: Avoid fast food and fried food.
- Drink Plenty of Water
The minimum amount of water you need to drink in a day is half your weight in pounds translated to ounces of water per day. It seems a lot but you make up the deficit by drinking tea, fresh fruit drinks and from the food you eat.
Drinking too much water can dilute certain salts and minerals in your body especially if you exercise and sweat heavily. In such situations, you need to take sports drink supplements or potassium rich fruits like bananas and apples.
- Get the Right Amount of Sleep
Doctors are looking into research that suggests that sleep or lack of affects hormones that control appetite. Studies show that individuals who got 8.5 hours of sleep per night lost more body fat in their workout program than those who slept for only 5.5 hours.
- Control your Stress
Stress and sleep play a great part in helping you reach your weight loss goals. Studies have shown that participants in a weight loss program who slept for 6- 8 hours and had the lowest stress levels were more likely to lose weight than those who had higher stress levels.
In conclusion, it is important to reiterate that developing ripped 6-packs abs will require a lot of dedication and hard work as well as a strategy you need to stick to in order to succeed. It will mean that you adjust your life to fit in with your workout program. The exercises will have to be something you really like doing and your diet should be one that you can maintain long term.