For most men, the most coveted muscles are pecs, biceps, and abs.
For most women, the most coveted muscles are glutes and abs.
The common muscle group here is the abdominals which would make them the most coveted muscle amongst both genders.
Supplement companies have preyed on this fact for years. How many abdominal gizmos and super “fat burner” supplements are released and marketed every single year?
People are constantly fighting the battle to at the minimum have a flat stomach. Late night commercials promising quick results from these abdominal devices is extremely common. Even worse are the pills that claim you can maintain the same bad nutrition plan you are currently on and still flatten your stomach.
The fact of the matter is that all of those marketing ploys are fake hustle of the highest order.
First, we all have abdominal muscles. Abs that you can see on a person is a result of very low body fat regardless of age or training experience.
I have trained many young athletes from different disciplines of sport. Most of these young men have never touched a weight or have performed any type of abdominal movements in their whole life. But at age 14 or 15 these some of these young men have abs. Why?
Genetics play a big factor. Ectomorphic males like myself will be very low in body fat to begin with. Combine that with sports that require sprinting and jumping and you have the recipe for abs.
If you know anything about conditioning you will know that sprints are the best move for burning fat. Period.
The fact that these young men are playing their sports day in and day out contributes to the fact they have abs.
But what if you are someone who is trying to lose stubborn body fat around your waist?
What if you are someone who is not an ectomorph and gains fat easier? What if you are an ectomorph who has the dreaded skinny-fat look?
For you to reduce the fat around your midsection and reveal your abs there are 3 things that you must do.
I will list the 3 basic keys to building the abdominal muscles and then eliminating the nasty fat around them. It will not require gadgets, gimmicks, or supplements.
Key 1) The base of building the abdominals starts with a solid strength program
Strength training is the base of what you are going to be doing. Being physically weak has no value and it will not lead you to build strong abs.
The misconception about abdominal training is that it has to be this separate entity from your strength training. This is not the case.
The big body moves like squats, deadlifts, and especially chin-ups etc, will make your core feel like iron.
Not only do you want to see your abs but you will want them to be super strong. Most moves in the gym use the abdominals to some degree.
When you squat to the bucket or you pull that heavy deadlift off the floor you can be guaranteed that your abs are contracting with maximal force to help you complete the rep.
When you are performing a barbell lunge your core is keeping you balanced and stable so that you do not get folded like laundry on a Sunday afternoon.
Even when you are performing push-ups your abs are contracting or else your low back will begin to sink like lead. By basing your training plan around big compound lifts you will develop serious abdominal strength. There is no need to spend hours crunching away into oblivion.
Focus on the big moves but also focus on keeping your abs tight during these moves. You will feel your midsection get tighter as you progress through your training program.
Key 2) In order to see the abdominals you have built your nutrition has to be in order
There is another misconception in the industry that powerlifters are just fat bastards who can lift heavy. UNTRUE.
A typical powerlifter’s physique is very strong. They have abs but the reason that those abs remain hidden like a thief in the night is because of lackluster nutrition.
Let’s say I took a powerlifter who was has been training for years and he weighs a solid 250lbs.
Let’s also say his physique, while super strong is not even as close to as aesthetic as it could be.
This powerlifter has been consuming a high carb, high fat, high protein, and high junk diet for most of his career. There have not been any set nutrition protocols.
Now if this powerlifter and I sit down and have a conversation and discuss his nutrition and organize his macronutrients in a balanced way that will allow him to stay strong and lose fat, he will look totally different at the end of 12 weeks.
If his diet starts to resemble one where he cycles his carbs, creates a caloric deficit, and makes better food choices he will attain success. This powerlifter already has solid abs but they are being covered by loads of fat at the moment.
Once his macronutrients are in order this guy will lean out and a full 6 pack will be revealed like a rainbow. I always tell trainees that even if they train as hard as Rocky Balboa if their nutrition resembles the diet of Homer Simpson then they will not reach the leanness that they wanted to attain.
Nutrition matters and there is no way around it.
Key 3) You must perform conditioning
Let’s get right to the point. Most people loathe conditioning.
Not so much because they know it is not effective but because it is brutally hard and will expose you if you have been skimping on it. I cannot tell you the number of folks who claim to be fit who cannot complete some of my most simple conditioning circuits.
There are those trainees in the world who can develop great abs without any conditioning at all. Genetics and nutrition will play a big role in that scenario but by performing true conditioning it will allow you to burn fat faster and become extremely fit.
For the majority of trainees who want to lose fat and reveal those beautiful abs, you will need to perform hard conditioning.
Sprinting, bodyweight conditioning, or pushing the Prowler all qualify as examples. High-intensity conditioning will force your body to work hard and use large amounts of energy. Fat stands absolutely no chance against honest work and correct macronutrient levels.
Using the treadmill, elliptical, or stairclimber does not count as hard conditioning. Most folks in the gym go to the “cardio” section every time they walk in. Yet as the months go by they look smaller, weaker, and in worse shape.
Success leaves clues and real conditioning has worked effectively since the beginning of time.
There is no way that the person using the treadmill is going to be more physically fit and athletic than the person who performs sprints on the track or up the hill. NO POSSIBLE WAY.
Why would anyone spend a boring 1-hour plus on the hamster wheel going nowhere fast and not building muscle?
Why not spend 20 minutes performing sprints 2-3x per week while building more muscle and getting better results much faster?
It seems like an absolute no-brainer to me but the “cardio” section seems to have more magnetic powers then Magneto himself!
My conditioning of choice would be sprints or hill sprints.
Sprints are the number 1 movement for reducing body fat. There is no other move that will absolutely eat, eat, eat body fat more effectively than sprints.
How many times have you seen a sprinter without a flat stomach?
How many times have you seen a sprinter who was not very lean?
How many times have you seen a sprinter who did not have great, muscular legs?
Now there are sometimes throughout the year where sprints may not be possible. If you live in the Northeast like me then you know from late November until late March Mr. Freeze makes his yearly visit and the temperatures are very cold all day.
Performing sprints at over 90 percent of your maximum speed when you cannot get properly warmed up due to the cold would be like driving your car with no oil…STUPID.
The chance for you to pull that hamstring will be exponentially higher in very cold temperatures. The plan now would be to take your conditioning inside or reduce your speed work if you must be outside.
Before you leave this article make sure you check out my video on this topic at the end of this article. I discuss everything I just wrote for you.
As far as the general rules for getting lean goes you should focus on full body movements, creating a caloric deficit, performing high-intensity conditioning 2 to 3 times per week.
You should also be following a high protein, low to moderate carbohydrate, low to moderate fat diet to see the best results.
Getting lean does not have to be complicated. By following the basic rules of engagement you will be leaner and more fit before you know it.
The key to life is to not follow the crowd. When you see the masses on the treadmill, using all machines, and eating garbage all day, just do the opposite and you will have success.
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