Six Pack Abs
How to get a "flat stomach" and "ripped abs."
It's the one common thing everyone would probably agree on wanting, yet they'd all disagree on how to say it. For example, some people may want washboard abs, others may prefer a flat stomach. You might want to get six pack abs, but your friend might want ripped abs. Person X would love to have chiseled abdominals, yet Person Y would rather have a slim sexy core. No matter which way you say it (and for the record, I find 99.9% of these ways absolutely hilarious) they all mean the same thing.
The big problem here is that a lot of people don't seem to actually understand what that is and, even more so, how exactly to get it. So... let's change that.
What is needed...
Having the flat stomach and six pack abs of your dreams requires just two things:
1. First and foremost are the actual abs themselves. Technically your abs are already there, however you will want to work on building and strengthening them. I'll get to all of that stuff (workouts and exercises) a little later.
2. But second and easily the most important part of this equation, you need to get rid of the fat that is on top of your abs so they can become visible.
...and this is where all the problems lie.
The myth of spot reduction.
See, some people may think that it's the ab exercises and the ab machines themselves that will burn the fat that is on your stomach. If you think this is true, you believe in the impossible myth of "spot reduction." Spot reduction is the idea that you are able to directly target the fat of a certain area of the body simply by doing exercises for that specific area. This is completely untrue and impossible. While you can certainly target specific muscle groups, there is no way to "work" or "target" or "burn" specific areas of fat.
Exercises work muscles... not fat. In this case, ab exercises will give you great, strong, sexy, washboard, ripped abs, but they won't have any direct effect on the fat that is covering them. No amount of ab exercises (no matter how fancy or expensive the machine is or how effective it claims to be) will directly target the fat on your stomach. It's just not possible. They will only work the ab muscles. If there is any fat on top of those muscles (which is usually the case), your wonderful abs will remain covered by it and will therefore be unable to be seen.
And, by the way, this doesn't just go for abs either. It's true for the entire body. All of the chest, back, tricep, bicep, shoulder, and leg exercises in the world won't have any effect on the fat on that body part. Whether you do high reps instead of low reps, machines instead of free weights, you will still only be working the muscle, not the fat that is on top of it.
How to lose the fat on your stomach.
Getting back to getting the six pack abs of your dreams, don't let what I just told you discourage you from working your abs. This is still very important and should be done. However, the true key to having a "flat stomach" and "six pack abs" is losing the fat that is on your stomach. And, since you are now aware that ab exercises are not what's going to accomplish this, you may be wondering what will.
But um, you shouldn't be. After all, you're at a web site whose entire purpose is doing just that.
See, the only way to lose the fat on your stomach is to... lose fat period. You know, through a proper diet and/or cardio exercise. You can only lose fat from the body as a whole, and as you should have already learned by now in Phase 1 of The Lose Weight Diet, the only way to do this is by burning more calories than you consume.
You remember that whole thing about being 500 calories below your maintenance level through a proper diet, cardio exercise or a combination of both? We'll, that is what causes the body to lose fat. Eventually the fat that you lose will be the fat that is on your stomach. When this happens, your wonderful six pack abs will be visible and you will have the flat stomach and ripped washboards and sexy cores and all sorts of toned sculpted chiseled things... of your dreams.
Ab exercises and workouts.
Now that the important part is out of the way, let's get down to exercises and workouts. First of all, I would suggest working your abs no more than 2 or 3 times per week, if even that much. There is no need to work them any more than that. I know, a lot of people work their abs every single day. These people are wasting their time and are the people who aren't aware that spot reduction isn't possible. There's people like that in every gym. Ignore them.
I personally only train my abs directly twice a week, and that's what I typically recommend.
And about reps, there is no need to do 100 crunches. Abs are a muscle just like any other muscle. Do you do 100 reps on the bench press? I didn't think so. Instead of wasting all of your effort on doing an insane number of reps, focus on doing slow and controlled reps where you are really being sure to contract and squeeze the ab muscles each rep. Remember, this isn't what's going to give you a flat stomach and visible six pack abs. This is just what's going to make your abs strong, which is still a very good thing.
Now, if your concern is that doing 20 or so reps (instead of your usual 1,000,000) of something like crunches will be way too easy for you, make it harder. One way to do this is to add weight. Try holding a weight either on your chest or behind your head when doing crunches. When you get to a point where that feels way too easy as well, increase the weight a little. If this sounds at all familiar, it's because this is the same method used for building and strengthening every other muscle of your body. Abs are no different.
As for ab exercises themselves, you probably noticed I've only mentioned crunches. That's because they are simple (no equipment needed) and equally as effective as any other ab exercise. Do them to the side, do them with your legs in the air, do them weighted. It's all fine and good and effective. I'm also a fan of hanging leg raises, jack-knife crunches (doing a crunch while pulling your knees towards your face), side bends and some sort of weighted twist. I very rarely use any kind of machine.
Oh, and speaking of machines...
Fancy ab machines.
You know all of those fancy ab machines that are advertised on TV all the time that promise six pack abs and a flat stomach and sexy abdominals and ripped abs and all of those other wacky adjectives I mentioned earlier? Well, they are all pretty much useless. They want you to think spot reduction is possible, which it isn't. They want you to think their machine will remove the fat from your stomach, which it won't. They want you to think all of the people in the commercial with great abs got that way by using their product, which they didn't.
There is enough deception and lying in each commercial that it could pass for a 30 second soap opera. You don't need these ab machines. They don't do anything special. They are no better than any of the free exercises I mentioned before. Everything they show or say is a complete lie. Save your money.
Well, that's about it. You now know everything you need to do as well as everything you don't need to do in order to get the six pack abs and flat stomach "of your dreams." Just build and strengthen the ab muscles by doing normal non-fancy ab workouts, and then just lose the fat on your stomach through a combination of a proper diet and cardio exercise.