Having ripped six pack abs is no different than anything else worth having in life. It requires a handful of small disciplines to be performed consistently over time.
Is getting six pack abs simple? Yes.
Is getting six pack abs easy? No.
Let me explain…
If I told you to eat one apple per day, I’m assuming you would be able to do it without much resistance. It’s really not that much to ask, right?
The vast majority of people would struggle to eat a single apple for more than a few days straight.
Human beings are habitual creatures that resist change. I’m willing to bet your actions today are nearly identical to your actions yesterday…which are probably no different from what you’re going to do tomorrow.
Most of us know exactly what we need to do to achieve our goals in life. The problem is getting ourselves to actually DO what’s required each day.
The first step to transforming your body is to have a deep meaningful reason to do so.
Your body is a visual representation of the work ethic and respect that you have for yourself. The benefits of a shredded core go way beyond the vanity and sex appeal that comes with the territory.
It’s a testament to the fact that you’re one of the few people who actually walks the walk.
You can’t rent a set of abs for the summer.
You can’t inherit six pack abs from your rich uncle.
You can’t get a loan for six pack abs and then do the work later.
If you want to have ripped abs just to impress some girl on the beach, then don’t read any further. You’ll never have enough fuel to reach the end of this journey.
But if you’re serious about taking your body to the next level, then I’m willing to bet that you’re making a few key mistakes in your training.
The 7 Core Mistakes To Getting Six Pack Abs
In my experience as a trainer, these are the most common mistakes that people make when getting sculpted six pack abs.
1.) Your Body Fat Percentage Isn’t Low Enough
Everyone has six pack abs, but most people have a layer of fat covering their midsection.
If your goal is to get a lean body and six pack abs, then proper nutrition will account for roughly 60-80% of the process.
I struggled with this one concept for almost a decade.
I never understood how the foods you consume mattered more than the sweat equity that you put into your workouts. This philosophy prevented me from ever getting toned definition around my midsection.
Eventually, I started to resort to weak excuses such as “I just don’t have good genetics.” The reality of the situation was that I didn’t have the education or discipline to eat clean over the long-term.
So please take it from me when I say that…
You can’t out exercise a bad diet.
I know you’ve probably heard this before, but I guarantee it’s the number one reason you don’t have ripped abs.
If you want your abdominals to start showing, then you need to get your body fat percentage down to the appropriate levels:
- 10% for a male
- 15% for a female
Once you get your body fat percentage low enough, you can start sculpting each region of your abdominals. Which brings me to the next core mistake.
2.) You Aren’t Actually Training Your Abdominals
Your abs are comprised of three different subsidiary muscle groups, which are the upper abdominals, obliques, and lower abdominals.
You wouldn’t expect to get chiseled arms without training both your biceps and triceps, right? Well, that same mindset needs to be incorporated into your abdominal routine.
If you want to get symmetrical muscle tone in your core, then you need to target all three areas accordingly. It’s really that simple.
Each region of your abdominals is predicated on a specific movement:
- Upper abdominals: whenever you curl your shoulders off the floor
- Obliques: whenever you twist your torso from side to side
- Lower abdominals: whenever you elevate your legs and break the point of your waistline
Back when I first started training, I used to do 300 crunches per day. As you can imagine, I never saw any results in my midsection.
But it’s not for the reasons you might think…
Crunches only target the upper abdominals when performed correctly. This means you could perform thousands of crunches per day, and you would still be neglecting the other two thirds of your core.
This style of training leads to the popular myth that “crunches are bad.” The reality is that crunches are an effective way to target the upper portion of the abdominals.
The problem is that you’re only training one third of your core. As a result, you’re only going to get one third of your desired results.
Here are some of the best exercises that you can do for each area of your abdominals.
Side To Side Twists
Chair Leg Lifts
When you start training all three regions of the abdominals, you’ll notice an immediate difference in the durability of your core.
So many people become immersed in the aesthetics of getting in shape that they forget about the performance benefits of having a strong midsection.
Your core is the foundation of your entire body. When you train your core consistently, it will help accelerate muscle growth in your chest, shoulders, arms, back, and legs.
3.) You’re Training Your Abs For More Than 5 Minutes
No, you didn’t read this wrong.
Your abdominals aren’t like your other major muscle groups. They can be trained consistently for short high intensity circuit workouts.
Let me give you an example…
Let’s assume you train your chest on a Monday. You go to the gym and perform a 30 minute workout that consists of mostly bench press and pushup exercises.
During this process, you are tearing the acto myosin and sarcomere of your chest muscles.
You only place the demand for your body to grow during your workouts. Actual muscle growth only occurs when those torn muscle filaments repair themselves with the proper protein sources.
When you wake up the next morning, you’ll most likely feel some soreness in your chest. If not, you either didn’t push yourself hard enough or are suffering from the dreaded “plateau effect.”
Your chest will need a full 48 hours to recover and repair it’s torn muscle filaments from your workout on Monday. Therefore, the earliest you should train your chest again would be on Thursday.
Contrary to popular belief, this is NOT the most optimal way to train your abdominals.
Doing long weighted sessions with your core can lead to overtraining and potential injury.
The most effective way to get washboard abs is by doing short circuit sessions lasting anywhere between 3-7 minutes. This will allow you to elevate your heart rate into a fat burning zone and get your blood flowing before your resistance training.
Always make sure that you’re targeting the upper abs, obliques, and lower abs in every one of your workouts. For maximum results, use the clock instead of monitoring your reps.
Here is a simple bodyweight circuit workout that you can do from the comfort of your own living room.
Despite what you might have heard, less is actually more when it comes to training your abdominals.
Short consistent 5 minute circuit workouts will produce better results than long 60 minute gym sessions a couple of times per week.
4.) You Aren’t Drinking Enough Water
Our society has been infiltrated with big corporations that sell “magic pill” supplements. There’s nothing sexy about drinking water, which is why you don’t hear much about it in the mainstream media.
But make no mistake about it…
Hydration is key when it comes to losing fat and building lean muscle.
Your muscles and brain are made up of 75% water. Keeping your body hydrated will detoxify the excess fats and toxins in your body. This will inevitably increase both your energy and strength levels.
The two most common symptoms of massive dehydration are thirst and fatigue. Your body will retain water if you aren’t properly hydrating yourself. This can cause you to become bloated and lethargic.
When you’re drinking adequate amounts of water, your body will start excreting that excess fats and toxins in your system. As a result, you will start noticing your waistline getting thinner as the layers of fat around your midsection slowly start disappearing.
So exactly how much water should you drink each day?
As a general barometer, you should try and consume at least half your body weight in ounces of water each day.
I weigh 200 pounds, which means I should be drinking at least 100 ounces of water daily.
I know what you’re probably thinking…who has time to have 8-10 glasses of water each day?
The answer is quite simple…nobody does.
Here’s a little hack that I use to keep myself hydrated each day.
Empty Gatorade bottles.
Instead of using small glasses, simply use a 32oz bottle of Gatorade. Drinking just 4 of these each day equals a full gallon of water.
I promise if you do this for just a couple of weeks you’ll notice a drastic difference in your waistline.
Drinking adequate amounts of water will also help mitigate junk food cravings. Water temporarily expands the walls of your stomach, which gives you a temporary sense of satiation.
And last, but certainly not least…
Start drinking water first thing in the morning. Your body becomes dehydrated overnight when you’re sleeping. One of the best ways to optimize your energy levels for the day is by drinking a large bottle of cold water.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so make sure that you’re drinking plenty of water with it.
5.) You’re Training The Lower Abs Wrong
Whether you’re a man or a woman, the last bit of stubborn belly fat will reside on your lower abdominals.
So if you want to torch your love handles and get toned definition in your lower core, the first step is to get your body fat percentage around 10-15%.
When you reach this point, it’s absolutely essential to train your lower abdominals correctly. Proper form is essential in all the exercises you perform. But it’s especially important when training the lower abs.
Here’s a dirty little secret that these so-called “fitness gurus” don’t want you to know…
You only activate the hip flexors when you elevate your legs up to your waistline.
It’s only when you break the point of your waistline that you begin targeting the lower abdominals.
This seems like a subtle movement, but it will make all the difference in your lower abdominal development.
Here is a lower ab workout that you can perform from the comfort of your own home or apartment. It will require some equipment, but nothing that you don’t already have stored in your living room or office. Check it out:
6.) You Aren’t Using Weights
Conventional bodyweight workouts are a great way to tone the abdominals. But if you want to get rock hard washboard six pack abs, you’re going to have to use some resistance in your training.
What most people fail to realize is that “resistance” does NOT mean heavy weight. In fact, lifting excess weight can actually add inches to your waistline.
In my opinion, the best way to get ripped six pack abs is by using light to moderate weight (anywhere between 10-25lbs). This will allow you to sculpt each region of your core without running the risk of overtraining them.
But what if you don’t have a gym membership or Bowflex machine at your house?
Fortunately, you can simulate many of the beginner core workouts that you would normally perform at a gym by using everyday home equipment.
Weight is weight. It doesn’t matter if it comes in the form of a dumbbell, barbell, weighted plate…or a water jug, suitcase, or chair.
Here’s a quick abdominal workout that you can do with a couch and a pair of water jugs:
7.) You’re Neglecting Half Of Your Core
Your core is the stabilizer muscle for your entire body. Having a strong durable core will increase the strength levels of your chest, arms, back, shoulders, and legs.
So whether your abs are showing or not, you should always train your core.
The problem is that most people don’t understand that your core isn’t just your abdominals.
It’s actually your abdominals and lower back working in conjunction with one another.
If you aren’t training your lower back, then you’re essentially neglecting half of your entire core.
It’s important to understand that your lower back is more fragile than your abdominals. Therefore, you should refrain from training them with heavy weight.
Throwing out your lower back will hinder your activities both inside and outside of the gym.
One of the safest and most effective way to train your lower back is with short circuit bodyweight exercises. Don’t worry about how many reps you can do at first. The key is to execute proper form by maximizing the full range of movement on each rep.
Here is a lower back workout that you can do from home:
If you’re struggling to trim your waistline and get toned six pack abs, then I’m willing to bet you’re making at least one of these 7 core mistakes.
Getting in shape is challenging. But staying in shape is easy.
It all comes down to a handful of small rituals that need to be performed each day. There’s no need to drastically change your entire life overnight.
Short, fun, consistent workouts is the key to torching fat and getting six pack abs. But you also need to be eating the right foods and drinking enough water each day.
Start small. Make it a goal to train your abdominals 3-4 times this week. Next week, try and drink half of your bodyweight in ounces of water each day. After a couple of weeks, start making small incremental changes to your diet.
Eventually, you’ll start acting unconsciously and will no longer depend on willpower and motivation. When you reach this point, it becomes inevitable that you’ll get toned six pack abs.
What is the #1 obstacle that’s preventing you from reaching your fitness goals?