There are a number of key requirements to fulfil in the quest for that elusive ripped and muscular body, obviously a strict diet and a great workout plan are a must because without losing that excess fat from your body you will never get to see the ripped abs hidden underneath.
First things first however, without at least a basic understanding of the physiology and composition of this particular muscle group then your goal of well defined abs will remain a distant dream.
There are six groups of abdominal muscles, hence the term six pack, and they make up the core abdominal muscles. Your abs begin just under the rib cage and make their way all the way down to the pelvic area. On each side of your torso are two pairs of abdominals known as the external and internal obliques. These muscles are there primarily to support the movement of your spine from both side to side and the bending of your spine backward and forward. Your obliques are absolutely fundamental in your quest for ripped abs as they play a key role in developing core strength, but they will not form part of your visible six pack as they are impossible to see.
Now one extremely important fact to remember when working to develop ripped abs is that although the abs are made up of distinct muscle groups the abdominal area is in fact one muscle known as the Rectus Abdominus. Therefore it is physiologically impossible to isolate just one area of your abs completely, because by definition when you work your abs you will be working them all. You will sometimes hear people saying “I need to work my lower abs” or something similar. This is simply not possible without working the rest of the muscle group at the same time.
The third and final group of abdominal muscles are known as the transverse abdominus muscles. Again just like the internal and external obliques they are not visible from the outside, however, they play just as important a
role in your plan for ripped abs as the other ab muscles. They are mainly responsible for ensuring correct body posture. The best analogy would be to think of your transverse abdominus as your very own natural weight belt.
I believe it is vitally important to stress at this point just how vital strong abs can be. Ripped abs are a wonderful goal to work towards, not just from an aesthetic aspect but also because strong and well defined abs will go a very long way towards reducing problems in later life. Weak abdominal muscles will contribute towards problems such as lower back pain or indeed any other postural issues. Strong abs will go a long way towards reducing the risk of injury when you train or indeed just help to build your core strength when performing everyday activities.
It is also important to remember that the abs are muscles just like any other and as such they will require a period of recovery after a workout. The good news however, is that given their unique fibre composition they actually require slightly less recovery time than most of the other major muscle groups.
There are so many factors that will dictate our natural physique, age and gender are just two, but it is our genes that determine where you will store body fat. Some people will store fat around their thighs and butts, this tends to be women, and guys have more of a tendency to store their body fat around their stomachs, especially as they approach middle age. It is vital then that you develop an understanding of how your body stores, uses and burns fat.
The body uses fat and carbohydrates as an energy source. The level of intensity in your exercising will determine how much fat or carbs you will burn. The commonly held theory is that the lower the intensity of the exercise the more fat you will burn. In fact you will even see it in black and white on the cardio machines at the gym. The “Fat Burning Zone” means that the lower the intensity and the longer you work, normally at around 50-60% of your maximum heart rate then the more fat you will burn for energy. The higher your intensity then the more likely you are to use up carbs as fuel.
The thing to remember however, is that it doesn’t matter at all how much fat you are burning if you are not burning off enough calories. Fat loss can only happen if you are burning more energy than you are taking in and exercising at a higher intensity is the best way to achieve this. Remember, energy in versus energy out equals fat loss. It’s actually quite a simple equation.
Now don’t think that there is not a place for a low intensity cardio workout, there is. It would be a good idea however, to mix up your cardio workouts with some real high intensity training. Perhaps 20 minutes at around 80-85% of your maximum heart rate on any cardio machine. Interval training, perhaps sprinting at full speed for a minute then walking for a minute etc, will give you all the intensity you will ever need to burn calories as well as fat.
Also try to fit in the odd moderately intense cardio session as well, 75% of your maximum heart rate should do the trick. A muscular physique with ripped abs are there for you, as long as you can combine your cardio with a great strength training programme. Lifting heavy weights is a fantastic way to burn fat as it actively increases your metabolic rate and of course preserves your muscle mass. The more muscle you have the more calories you will burn in preserving it in your everyday activities, so even just walking around will help to burn fat.
Now of course there are countless exercises you can do that will go some way towards getting you ripped. However, you will end up hugely disappointed if you think that all you have to do is whack out a couple of hundred crunches and a set of razor sharp abs will suddenly appear. Bottom line is that you will have to condition your abs by performing some core exercises first
These core exercises are designed to eliminate the fat from your stomach. Now this is non negotiable if you are truly serious about developing ripped 6 pack abs as you can do all the crunches in the world but if you don’t burn off enough fat then you will simply never get to see them.
My suggestion would be to start off with some simple leg raises, knee raises, crunches, reverse crunches and other basic exercises. We will outline the details of these exercises below. Set yourself a schedule and stick to it religiously. Again I would recommend working out 3-4 times per week combining your basic exercises with some decent fat burning cardio work.
Now this is important. It has been proven that if you train once a week you will see roughly 10% improvement in your fitness level. Twice a week leads to a 20% increase. that is all well and good, however, check this statistic out: training 3 times per week leads to an overall increase of 80% in fitness. That is mind blowing, that third workout of the week is the one that makes all the difference so make sure you get yourself to the gym!
Familiarise yourself with the correct and safe supplements. These will provide you with all the essential vitamins and nutrients to keep your body growing in the right way. It is massively important to avoid the use of artificial, and in most cases, downright illegal stimulants. It is not for me to judge but if you pump your body full of steroids then you are effectively cheating and you will ultimately pay the price!