That's what you're about to learn, in case it wasn't obvious—the art of carving out your ab ladders. Washboards. This can be achieved, and there are some precise steps you can take to do it—and you might see results in time to rock it on the beach before the summer is over.
Writing for Fatherly, Julia Savacool makes the following necessary points:
So the first step to a six-pack is watching what you eat, and sticking to lean meats, vegetables, and cutting out all sweets and most carbs.
The second step is committing to an intense ab-focused strength-training routine — not the twice a week deal you do now, but three to four times a week, with determination and focus — to see your abs transform themselves. The good news: Many of the moves don’t require machines or extra weights, so you can do them in the convenience of your own home.
The final ingredient to building your six-pack is a solid dose of daily cardio. Developing your overall fitness will help train your body to use energy more efficiently, and teach it to start torching calories the minute you begin to move. And that’s key because you can have the strongest abdominals in the world, but if they’re covered with a layer of fat, you’ll never see them.
So let's get specific. Here are Fatherly's seven basic steps with our brief explanations:
Step 1: Eat Less Fat, and More Protein
This one is almost as simple as it sounds. Protein is important because it fuels recovery following workouts, aids in building muscle. It's thermogenic as well, which simply means it aids in burning body fat.
Step 2: Count Your Calories
Yeah, leave these alone. In the effort to reduce that body fat obscuring those washboard abs, all that happy talk about focusing on nutrients and the burn is fine, but in the end, dropping the kcal intake is vital. A deficit of 200 calories per day—meaning if you normally eat 2,500, you need to drop it to 2,300—does the trick for many.
Step 3: Pick Exercises That Hit Multiple Muscle Groups
Isolation exercises are for bodybuilders. And The Rock (see above). To really get the body working on burning fat and building the muscle for those abs, you have to go for compound work. Planks and reverse crunches are excellent for core work, hitting the entire complex of muscles needed to support that six-pack, and deadlifts and squats don't hurt, either.
Step 4. Make Your Cardio Workouts More Intense (And Shorter)
Burpees and sprints, sprints and burpees. Tabata intervals—go hard for 20 seconds, rest 10, do that for four minutes straight. Fitness gurus slag on medium intensity cardio a little too much but HIIT (high intensity interval training) has been proven to aid in burning fat.
Step 5. Hanging Leg Raises
This is an ab exercise that doesn't get taken seriously enough for all the good it does, as it works the sometimes neglected lower abdomen as well as deeper muscles for overall core stability. Ab man Jordan Yeoh gets them right for you above.
Step 6. Prioritize Hydration
This is overall fitness advice we've all heard a thousand times. When it comes to unveiling those abdominal muscles, hydrating boosts overall energy and helps prevent water retention and bloating.
Step 7. Vary Your Routine.
Varying what you do is great just to stay interested, but according to Fatherly, it's also good to really work the abs in meaningful ways. They suggest additional core-centric moves like these:
Pronated Leg Raises. Lie flat on your back, legs straight, hand tucked beneath your lower spine for support. Engage your abs and raise legs to about 45 degrees. Lower. Do 10 times.
V-Holds. Sit on floor, knees bent, hand tucked under your knees. Engage your core and slowly raise your feet off the floor several inches. Once you find your balance, extend your legs in front of you, creating a V-shape with your body. Hold 60 seconds.
Bicycle. This favorite of aerobic classes everywhere gets your heart rate up with working your obliques. Start on your back, knees bent, hands behind your head. Raise your head and feet off the floor and begin cycling your legs back and forth as it you re riding a bike. Bring opposite elbow to knee as you go. Do 60 seconds, rest 20 seconds, and go again.
There you go: a blueprint for a six-pack. Get busy, and remember, you can always stop once sweater season kicks in again.