Want 6 pack abs? Of course you do. Every guy does. But every guy doesn’t know how to achieve the 6-pack look. In fact, most guys go about it totally the wrong way when trying to get the 6 pack look.
They key to getting a flat stomach with 6 pack abs is lowering body fat. It’s really that simple, 6 pack abs are more about diet and cardio than they are about ab exercises and ab workouts. In this post I’ll post up some common mistakes made by those looking to get a 6 pack and some tips on how you can get one.
Common mistakes make when trying to get a 6 pack:
- Focusing to much on ab workouts. You can train your abs 3 times a week from all different angles with some of the best ab exercises out there, but if you don’t have the low body fat percentage your abs are not going to show!
- Dropping the calories way too much and losing muscle. Some people do understand that you need to have a real low bodyfat percentage to see those abs, but they go about achieving it all the wrong way. Drastically reducing calories will lead to muscle loss before fat and you’ll end up looking skinny and drawn.
- Too much cardio and not enough weights. When it comes to muscle mass, you use it or lose it. You’ve trained hard to build your upper body and legs and if you don’t train them hard you’ll lose muscle mass. The goal is to get the body fat down, but not sacrifice muscle mass.
Tips for getting those 6 pack abs:
- First of all, tune your diet in. You need to work out exactly how many calories your body needs every day and consume 500 less than that figure. You don’t need to go any lower than that.
- Track your bodyfat percentage, weight and muscle group sizes. This is essential so you can see where you’re going wrong. You can use the information to adjust your calorie intake, change your workout, and change your diet to suit your results. You should also always keep a training log.
- Don’t train your abs too often. Abs are like every other muscle group, you can over train them. Train abs maximum of 2-3 times per week, and if they’re sore from the previous workout don’t train them again.
- Pick an ab workout that compliments your current workout. Don’t sacrifice time on your other muscle groups for your abs. For example, if you were using our 4 day split bodybuilding workout, a simple ab workout on Monday and Thursday would suffice.
- Vary the rep range of your ab exercises from 10 to 20. Most people don’t like to go that low rep range for abs, but I believe you need to build a bit of muscle on your abs to really get them to stand out.
- Use supplements wisely for meal replacements, post training nutrition, overall wellbeing. I recommend at a minimum any serious weight trainer should be using whey protein, simple carbs, creatine and a good multivitamin (I’m not talking supermarket multis either!). Some might recommend fat burning supplements for fat loss, but I have not used them before so cannot recommend them either way.
- Hit the cardio first thing in the morning, and if you’re real keen, last thing at night. These are the 2 best times for actual fat burning. Don’t do anything high intensity, keep your heart rate at about 75% of your max for 40 mins each session.
For anyone that’s wondering, you should see your abs at around 10% bodyfat. Anything lower than that and you’re going for gold!
If you’re reading this post you’re probably looking to either increase your size or strength right? Well I thought I’d post up some practices that you should follow on your road to reaching your goals
This is not an A to Z guide on building muscle and strength, but it should give you something to think about. If you have any questions or comments, post them at the bottom of the page.
Practices for increasing strength and size:
- Your diet is the first key to success. There’s no argument about it. Neglect your diet and you’ll neglect your goals. Make sure you eat the right foods spaced over 5-7 meals. You should use a BMR calculator to work out how many calories you need each day. From there you can tweak your diet to suit your goals.
- Be consistent. Consistency is the second essential element required to reach your goals. If you train for a few months, go off it, come back on, goo off again don’t expect to get anywhere real fast. You need to stay focused on your short term and long term goals. Don’t take more than a week off weight training if you can help it. If you do take a week off, don’t let your diet slip. Keep your eye on the prize!
- Less is more. Overtraining is one of the most common mistakes made by new lifters. Make you sessions short and intense, and give yourself plenty of time between workouts for muscle recovery. Again I reiterate, intensity! For more on this subject see my less is more post.
- Use supplements wisely. Supplements won’t get you big on their own! What they will do is fill the nutritional gaps in your diet and help you get nutrients into the body quickly when they’re needed most. Don’t replace food with supplements.
- Technique before weight. It’s not the amount of weight you lift, it’s the way you lift it. All movements should focus on contraction and stretch of the muscle. You should never need momentum to help move the weight. Select a weight that allows you to just complete your set with good technique.
- Select the right workout. It’s critical that you select a workout that meets your goals. To many people use the wrong workout routines and end up giving up due to lack of results. If you’re looking for a good muscle building workout try my 4 day split workout. You can find more workout routines.
- Don’t get stuck in a routine. It’s easy for a lifter to get stuck in the same routine, same weights, same days, etc etc etc. Not only is this boring as hell, you’re not progressing with your training! Use intensity techniques like drop sets, supersets, tri-sets and negatives to shock your muscles into growth. Change your routine as soon as you stop progressing.
- Track your progress. A workout log is your best training partner. I know you’ve heard it all before, but until you start using a log regularly you won’t realize just how much you come to rely on it for information about your workouts.
- Stay focused when you train. Training is not all about talking, playing with your phone, and wandering around the gym trying to look good. It’s all about you reaching your goals. Get in there and focus on the workout you have ahead of you.
- Never be afraid to try something new. Whether bit an exercise, supplement or workout routine, you should never shy away form new methods of growing bigger and stronger. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
Now get back in the gym! Good luck with the training
When you’re new to weight training you pretty much follow workout routines straight out of the book and don’t have the knowledge to put your own spin on them, and generally don’t know enough about how your individual body works and how it reacts to different types of training. Weight training and muscle building is a constant learning curve. You speak to the most experienced bodybuilders, athletes and coaches and they all say (well, the good ones do) that you should never stop learning.
That being being said, there are some rules that apply to weight training. Rules that you need to know in order to understand training, and tailoring your training program to your needs. Here at what I consider, the rules of weight training…
Rules to Lift By:
- Intensity builds muscle. Without it, you won’t grow or get stronger.
- Less is more. Quality intense weight training have been proven time and time again to give the best results for both muscle and strength gains.
- Nutrition is the cornerstone of your weight training lifestyle. Yes, I said lifestyle. Because that’s what lifting weights is all about. You live it, you love it.
- Momentum is your enemy. As a general rule, zero momentum should be used when lifting weights. Some specialized training programs use it, but if your goal is strength and size, slow and controlled movements rule.
- Adapt your routine to suit your body. What I mean by this is, listen to what your body is telling you and adjust your workout accordingly. If you feel you’re at a plateau, switch it up. Feeling tired, take a week off and recuperate.
- Overtraining will kill gains, and quickly. Train smart. Go back to rule number one, intense and hard.
- Increase something in your workout every session. Could be another rep, could be upping the weight, could be a superset. Progression is paramount. Small steps to reach a big goal.
- Always back your training up with solid nutrition and supplementation.
- Always warm up. This may not hit home right now, but as you get older you’ll realize just how important it is to take care of your muscles and joints. If you’re injured, you can’t train. Regular weight trainers know that stopping training from injury is like locking a dog in a cage.
- Motivate. Motivate. Motivate. Whatever floats you boat. Watch videos, stick pictures up, talk on forums, go to competitions, whatever. It’s up to the individual.
Remember these rules and apply them to your own training plan. Any questions just post below.
I get a lot of emails from confused weight trainers who know a lot about lifting weights, but not a lot about building a good weight training diet/supplements program to back it up. When answering emails I have often used my diet program as an example of a good well rounded muscle growth plan.
So I am going to post a sample slice of my daily weight training diet routine, including the supplements that I take as well. This is simply meant to be an example that you can build on to create your own diet plan.
My weight training diet:
- Immediately upon waking, 40g of whey protein with water.
- 30 mins after that cereal with milk, and a class of grape juice.
- One of my meals that I bulk prepare on Sund afternoon. This is usually chilli with rice, pasta, or some kind of stew. You can keep these in the fridge/freezer for easy access and portion them to suit your calorie goals.
- I prepare lunch daily. Usually 1 chicken breast, whole wheat roll, salad, and oil dressing made with Udo’s Essential oils (a blend off omega-3/6/9 oils)
30mins after lunch:
- Animal Pak – the best multivitamin pack around, I can’t even get into explaining how good this product is. I recommend to all trainers, male or female.
20mins prior to workout:
- Take NO (nitric oxide) product. I am using Horsepower right now, because it’s cheap
***** WORKOUT *****
Immediately after workout:
- 40g of whey protein/60g of waximaize or dextrose/5g of creatine/5g of glutamine in my post workout shake.
- If I had white meat at lunch (chicken/turkey), I’ll try to have read meat at dinner. A 200g cut of lean beef, broccoli (I love my vegetable), baked potato.
- This is usually a smaller snack meal, might have some cottage cheese and crackers, yogurt, fruit, etc.
- Casein protein shake. Usually have around 40g of casein with water. If you don’t like the taste with water, have it with milk. It will up the calories slightly but that’s fine when you want to gain.
There you go, that’s a good sample of what I eat on a daily basis. That diet right there comes to around 3,350 calories. You can easily adjust the portion sizes to suit your individual calorie needs. If you have any questions post in the comments below.
I try a lot of supplements, especially protein powders. I like to try out what mixes good, what tastes good and what gives you the most bang of your buck. I have tried dozens of protein powers over the years, probably quite a few you haven’t tried! So I thought I’d post some of them up in case you might want to give them a go.
All these protein powders are decent value for money and taste good, I wouldn’t post ones that I didn’t like! These are all whey protein products, not weight gainers etc. If you have any comments or have tried any of these let me know in the comments at the bottom of the page!
5 protein powders you probably haven’t tried!
1. Universal Ultra Whey Pro
Universal Nutrition is really known for products like Animal Pak and Animal M-Stak, but they actually make a whole range of other products! Ultra Whey Pro is around the same price as the other leading brands (if not a bit cheaper), tastes good (I tried chocolate), and is very pure (no additives etc).
2. AST VP2
AST is one of the smaller brands, they produce a lot of vitamins, creatine, glutamine and joint health stuff. They only have a few whey protein products. AST VP2 is a solid product, a lot of people use it for weight loss (it has that reputation) but it’s a pure whey shake so really can be used for both muscle building and weight loss.
3. Gaspari Nutrition IntraPro
Most people only know one products from Gaspari, that’s SuperPump 250, the supplement that they’re famous for. I tried Strawberries and Cream flavor IntraPro last year and really liked it. The problem is it was hard to find in sizes more than 2lbs, so I stopped taking it (I got through about 5lbs per month).
4. MHP Simply Whey
I usually buy online, but my gym had this stuff on sale one time (it was coming up to expiry date) so I bought 5lb tub. Tried the chocolate, wasn’t *too* bad tasting, mixed without a problem. I didn’t mix up to thick, so I didn’t get bloated when downing a post workout shake with carbs in it as well. Price wise it’s about on par with other brands give or take a few dollars.
5. Champion Nutrition Pure Whey Stack
Champion make tons of supplements, mostly cheap ones. In my experience, most of their gear had been pretty low quality, especially their weight gainers. Their stuff works, but it contains a lot of fillers. But, their pure whey protein is an excellent product. Cheaper than most of the others with a pretty similar nutritional breakdown. I had the chocolate, mixed fine and tasted great as well.
Maybe it’s time you tried a few more protein powders. You never know what you might find. You never know til you try right?!
When it comes to muscle mass development less is more. One of the biggest mistakes newbies lifters make is lifting too much, too often. This results in one thing, failure. I believe the second most overlooked aspect of muscle development (after nutrition) is recovery. If you don’t recover properly you won’t grow, simple as that.
In this post I’m going to give you a list of reasons why when it comes to training more muscle growth less is more. If you have any questions post in the comments below.
Why less is more in muscle growth:
- Contrary to popular belief, muscle growth does not take place in the gym. It’s actually the exact opposite. If the gym you’re breaking down muscle tissue for repair when you rest. It’s when you’re resting that new muscle grows! So not enough rest means you’re limiting your muscle growth potential.
- If you don’t allow enough time for recovery you won’t be able to lift as much when you train. Obviously, this is going to hamper your progress.
- Doing too many sets on one muscle group leads to muscle breakdown! The guys at Muscle and Strength have been preaching this for a long time. You only need to work a maximum of 16 sets on large muscle groups (chest, quads, etc) and 12 sets of smaller muscle groups (biceps, triceps, forearms etc). That’s enough, really. You might not think that training your biceps for about 20mins per week for 12 sets will make them grow, but believe me, if you’ve got the rest and nutrition right, that’s all they need.
- You train your arms more than you think. I’ve heard of people training biceps up to 5 times per week! This is totally ridiculous! They are a small muscle group and don’t require that much training. Another thing you have to think about is that when you train your back you are also training your biceps and forearms hard as well. So even if you only hit your biceps once a week, they’re actually getting trained twice.
- Long training sessions are counter productive because after about 60mins your body will have depleted glycogen and protein levels in muscle tissue and will be looking looking for other sources for energy. Often this energy will come from muscle tissue itself. It’s called catabolism. Catabolism occurs when the body breaks down muscle tissue for energy. This can happen during, or after, your workout session. This is why we have our protein shakes immediately after training, to prevent this from happening. If you keep training for too long you’ll end up skinnier than when you started, I’ve actually seen this happen.
- Finally, over training often results in preventable injuries occurring. This is often due to joints and tendons not being given adequate time to recover from intense workouts. If you’re injured, you can’t train. If you haven’t been injured, good for you. But if you have, you’ll already know the frustration that comes with it.
Think about these points when you’re training and designing your next workout.
Have a good workout!
Two of the most common lagging areas for many weight trainers are the lower back and hamstrings. Because you can’t really physically see these body parts they’re often neglected. For anyone who is over 40 I don’t have to underline the importance of having a strong back, especially if you’re training with heavy weights. And as far as hamstrings go, pull your shorts up and do a side pose in the mirror. What’s missing? Although hamstrings are much smaller than the quads and glutes, having sizable hams really adds some width to your upper legs.
So what’s the best exercise to bring up these body parts? The Romanian deadlift, or stiff legged deadlift. The Romanian deadlift is a variation of the regular deadlift but you keep your legs fixed and rotate at the hips only. This takes the focus your quads and onto your hamstrings, glutes, lower back and upper back. It’s a huge all round strength and size exercise for those muscle groups. So how do you do a Romanian Deadlift. Let’s see…
How to do a Romanian Deadlift correctly:
This is a great exercise for displaying some of the worst exercise technique you’ll see. I have seen guys nearly break they’re back doing this, it’s crazy. So if this is your first shot at it, get the technique down backed before you load up the weight.
Especially important: technique rules over weight here, I can not stress that enough! A good stretch, slow motion, and squeeze will yield much better results that 20lbs more on the bar.
Grab the bar at slightly wider than shoulder width grip and stand straight up with the bar against your front. Slightly bend the knees. Arch your back and pull your shoulder blades back. This is your starting position. like shown below. Some people like to use a belt, this can be a good thing as it gives you something to squeeze into with your lower back, but it’s definitely not essential.
I chose this image becuase the woman in the picture goes right down with the bar. This is really important as you want to stretch the hamstrings right out, then use them to pull the weight back up. Notice her back is perfectly straight, never left your back arch. This is the worst thing you can possibly do and might lead you to some serious back injuries. Also notice how the weight is close to her legs, not out in front. This will also cause you added back pressure and will prob lead you to an injury once you pile some weight on the bar.