We ask personal trainer Damian Hall, to shed light on how to achieve what seems to be the most desired sign of physical fitness – killer abs.
Six packs are always at the forefront of peoples’ conversations when it comes to health and fitness. Lets face it, they look pretty good and are what most guys in particular are striving for from their regime, particularly pre-holiday season. The problem is though, that it is an idealistic world we live in and that puts a lot of pressure on todays’ younger generation to have that perfect body. The problem is, having visible abdominals does NOT necessarily mean you are healthy; it means you have a low body fat percentage and there is a difference. I have friends who are like this but live very unhealthy lifestyles. It comes down to several factors – genetics, body type, metabolism, calorie intake, food intolerances if any, and types of training. These all vary massively from person to person and have a direct impact on health, appearance and levels of body fat.
Lets get one thing clear…you can crunch your way through life with out ever reaching the six-pack look. Sorry to burst your bubble!
It is a common mis-conception that we will see abs if we crunch, in fact, it is not the case at all. No matter how many crunches you do, if your eating plan isn’t on point you may as well not bother. Here’s the point – your rectus abdominals are covered by body fat and this is why they are not visible. So yes, your abs are made in the kitchen. So what do we need to do? You got it, reduce your body fat. Want visible abs, eat clean and get your body fat percent down to single digits i.e 10% or less.
My favourite cliché is ‘You can’t out-train a bad diet’. A lot of people think that as long as they train harder they can eat whatever they want as they are burning it off.
Certain foods such as wheat and gluten can cause inflammation in some people that can last for days after consumption. So it’s not actually the effect the carbohydrate has on your body, it’s the effect of your body rejecting the gluten it may be intolerant to. This water retention and inflammation of the gut will give you that bloating, which will give you a nice covering of those abs!
I often get asked, what are the best exercises for building abs.
Here they are:
- Front Squat
- Roll outs
As you can see, the big compound lifts are top of the list. Without knowing it, you need to engage your abdominals to perform both of these lifts. Notice, the latter two are static contractions of your abdominals as these are the best way to tighten and strengthen the area, so forget about countless crunches.
My top tips for achieving a leaner physique:
- – Drink more water
- – Reduce your grains
- – Take sugar out of your diet
- – Increase your fish intake
- – Increase your protein intake
- – Be consistent with your training and nutrition
- – Include strength training and HIIT into your training program
So to sum up, having a diet that is 80% compliant and 20% not, will not get you the required results. You need to follow a plan and stick to it. If you are having ‘treat meals’ (and yes, that’s ok) just keep to certain guidelines:
- -Don’t let it run into being a cheat day / weekend / week! Sit down, enjoy your treat and move along.
- -Try and make whatever it is you enjoy yourself so at least you know whats in it!