Most people would love to have a flat stomach and lean, muscular abs. For men, it accentuates the breadth of your shoulders and arms. For women, it makes you more curvy and sexy. And for both men and women, it is a symbol of youth, health, strength, and discipline. No wonder all of those ads for jeans, perfume, and the like use models who have perfect abs. A lean abdominal section is tremendously appealing.
The really good news is that the process for getting great abs is very simple. The not-so-good news is that while it is simple, it isn’t easy (isn’t this always the case!). If it were easy, everyone would have them, but instead, almost no one has them (the next time you are at the mall or a restaurant, look around and see what I mean).
There are two keys to amazing abs. The first is to develop the ab muscles so they are toned. The second is to remove the layer of fat covering your abs so you expose them. That’s it.
The most common mistake people make in trying to get great abs is that they combine both goals, toning and fat reduction, into one process by performing hundreds of sit-ups or other ab exercises every day. This is not the optimal way to get outstanding abs—it is time consuming, inefficient, and unlikely to produce the abs you desire. I will explain why this is the case as I further explain my two simple keys to amazing abs.
Toning Your Abs
What many people fail to understand is that the abdominal muscles are like any other muscle in your body, and as such they respond best to the same weight training methods you would use for any other muscle group (chest, shoulders, legs, etc.). For those of you who weight train, do you train your chest every day with hundreds of repetitions of the same exercise? Of course not. And so it makes no sense to do hundreds of sit-ups every day. You will most effectively build toned abs by performing two or three different exercises, with 8 – 15 reps per set, a couple of times per week. If you do these exercises with a high level of intensity, there is no reason to spend any more than 15 minutes per abdominal session. Your sole focus in these sessions is to build muscle, not reduce fat (I’ll discuss fat reduction next).
Some people work abs every day, but they smartly focus on different areas of their abs each time (such as upper abs, lower abs, obliques, and serratus). If you insist on working your abs every day, then use this method of rotating the sections you work on to build your ab muscles wisely and efficiently.
Reducing Fat from Your Midsection
I’m just going to say one key thing here, and I’m pretty sure you’ve heard it before (and it is scientifically proven): it is not possible to “spot reduce” fat.
If you are overweight, then you have an excess layer of fat all over your body (and unfortunately, also around your internal organs). You would never think that you would get thinner arms by doing hundreds of arm curls, would you? Well, for some reason people think that they can spot reduce fat from their waist by doing hundreds of sit-ups. You might lose some weight due to the exercise you are doing, but it will be from all parts of your body, not just your stomach.
To get a lean waist you need to focus on losing overall bodyweight, which is achieved through reduced calorie intake (i.e., dieting, or more positively referred to as just “healthy nutrition”) and increased calorie burning (most effectively accomplished with cardiovascular exercise and resistance training).
If all of this sounds like much too much work and effort, I can sympathize. However, don’t give up just yet. Even a small reduction in your overall weight and bodyfat %, and slightly more toned abdominal muscles, will represent a significant improvement in your health and will make you look much more fit and appealing. You will likely be the only one among your friends who has any measure of ab development, causing you to really stand out among the crowd.
Don’t be ordinary—be EXCEPTIONAL, and be your best!