Sculpting decent abs takes time and willpower, especially the lower part. Strength work in the gym, specific exercises for the six pack like planks and a very good diet. "Abs are built in the kitchen as well as the gym," it's often said. And Phil Learney, personal trainer and core work expert, nods, "You can do endless sets of crunches, mountain climbers or planks, but if you don't eat right you'll never see your six pack."
Personally, at Men's Health, we have 3 basic exercises above the rest for at least a decent six pack: the abdominal roll, which is non-negotiable, the isometric plank with hip rolls, to also activate the obliques, and leg raises hanging from a bar. But there are many more exercises for our abs and core.

5 key aspects for a cover six pack

1- Genetics plays a big part, so don't get overwhelmed.
We all have abs, but their strength, shape and visibility vary, says Claire Steels, director of Steels Fitness. The extent to which they explode isn't tied to how many crunches you do. "Some people will have visible but not overly strong abs, while others will have strong abs without being very visible, like rugby players, for example."

2- Body fat index
Do you want spectacular abs? For that, men need to have less than 13-14% body fat, says Steels. Be consistent in your training and nutrition, maintain an adequate calorie deficit and adapt your plan after three to four weeks if you don't see any visible changes or results.
3- Vary your workouts at the gym
An overlooked factor in the quest for abs is that muscles have a functional purpose: to provide support for your core. "Dynamic exercises, such as Russian twists, will cause the muscles to shorten and lengthen to produce more power, while static exercises like the isometric plank require isometric contraction," explains Steels. Combine the two for the best results. "And avoid training your abs more than four or five times a week. They need to recover..."

4- Losing weight versus burning fat
The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition suggests that to do this safely, you'll need to lose 0.5-1% of your body weight per week. And you don't need to ban carbs. In fact, says Steels, you may find it easier to limit your fat intake to 30% of your calories.
5- Patience.
Take it easy and be patient. "Reducing your energy intake too much can disrupt sleep, for example," says Steels. A smaller deficit of 300 to 400 kcal per day may take longer, but it will be less arduous. And remember: ultra-low body fat is not an indicator of wellness. Men in their 30s and 50s can be healthy at the 20-23% mark.


September 05, 2023