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Summer six pack….who wants one?

Aren’t six packs great!… Almost everyone wants one yet they seem to be the hardest thing in world to get. So what are the fitness professionals secrets to this mythical attribute?

I’ll try explain what your six pack is and how to get one.

Firstly lets look at the basic musculature. The abdominal muscles you see are a very thin sheet of muscle that connects your ribs to your pelvis and are responsible for flexing your mid to lower spine. They are actually quite a superficial muscle in what they do.

So how is best to work them? To exercise the rectus abdominus (Abs) you need to simply contract your rib-cage towards your pelvis, I.e your standard crunch movement. That is it. There are literally hundreds of variations of abs movements spouted as the latest and greatest ab developer, however they all stem from the basic premise of spine flexion. If your legs are moving, then primarily, your hip flexors are doing the movement and not your abs. The muscles that run diagonally on the sides are your obliques. They are involved in a side flexion and rotation movement. So to work these your simple crunch could involve a slight twist movement.

Then if it’s that easy lets all do 100 crunches a day and we all have  a six pack…..sadly no. The first flaw in the plan lies in the fact the muscles are superficial. Which means they are but a finishing coat to the real muscles responsible. The muscle that is far more responsible is the transverse abdominus (tva). This muscle is huge and runs around your middle like a boxing trophy belt. It has many functions, but without a good thick tva your core would never be prominent enough to display your six pack. Because this muscle works on support and compression, the best methods are large compound movements that link upper and lower body like squats and dead lifts. So get in the gym and lift!.

One of the trainers in my gym (Luke Austin) had never done a direct ab exercise before, but had a history of power lifting, yet when he dropped some body fat he displayed an extremely impressive set of abs. Which leads onto the second criteria. If you’re not lean, all the lifting and crunching in the world will never show you your six pack. You may well have it hidden under three inches of umbilical fat, but like much of the famous art in the world, it will never grace public viewing. So strip the fat!

I have spoken specifically about fat loss before but i’ll try to summerise. Eat less refined sugar, drink less booze, eat       4-6 quality meals per day, train weights, supplement your weight training with some cardio if necessary. To burn fat you must create a calorie deficit. Simple as. Then, you will use body fat as the extra fuel needed to make up that deficit. If you don’t eat enough your body will not give up your body fat. If you don’t eat carbs your body will starve itself and burn up muscle tissue. If you don’t exercise and try to do it from starving you will look and feel awful.

There of course are some subtle nuances with an individuals fat loss journey, but for the masses, these basic rules will get you a long way. So there you have it a brief synopsis of how to attain the unattainable. My ab regimen is very simple. I lift big frequently, I train abs once a week 6-10 sets, and I keep my body fat reasonably low all year round by managing my food intake.

If you would like any assistance in trying to find your six pack then email me on to arrange some one on one tuition or if you’re interested in joining my gym.

Keep on liftin’ Ali ‘Fat Al’ Stewart

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