Over the past couple months, my fitness routine has included many of my favorite strategies to get six pack abs. Combining a clean diet with ample strength training and cardio has allowed me to significantly reduce my body fat to a level I have never been before. As such, I’d like to share my six pack abs workout routine and diet plan. Additionally, I’d like to review some of my preferred six pack abs exercises. While I can’t guarantee you’ll see the same results as me, I hope that many of these tips will help you learn how to get six pack abs.
How to Get Six Pack Abs
The fundamental key to getting six pack abs is that your body fat has to be very low. Everyone is different, but generally for men, you’ll start to see your abs around 10% body fat. You’ll look completely ripped if you get under 6% body fat. For women, you’ll start to see a nice six pack when your body fat is around 16%. Anything under 12% and you’ll have ripped abs.
What’s the best way to reduce your body fat? I take a multi-pronged approach that combines a proper diet, cardio, and circuit training for fat loss along with a strength training routine for muscle maintenance. On top of that, I incorporate a modest number of six pack abs exercises to get more defined abs. Unfortunately, a lot of people tend to focus too much on abs exercises rather than on their diet and workout routine which are the biggest components in getting six pack abs.
Six Pack Abs Diet
In my opinion, the key to fat loss is a strong diet plan. What works best for me is eliminating as much refined sugar as possible from my diet and eating healthy foods like lean meats, fruits, and vegetables. I combine this strategy with intermittent fasting, cheat days, and calorie cycling. For my six pack abs diet, I decided to spread my meals out as well. Contrary to popular opinion, I don’t do this because of some belief that more frequent meals lead to an increased metabolism. The main reason is that I like to eat fruit on its own (avoiding other foods for at least 30 minutes before and after) to maximize absorption of nutrients.
For intermittent fasting, I generally prefer the Eat Stop Eat approach of fasting for 24 hours for 1-2 days per week. However, for the past couple months I’ve been using an “eating window” approach where I fast for 15 hours and eat for 9 hours. This is perceived as more effective in eliminating stubborn body fat (lower belly fat for men; waist, hips, and thighs for women).
Cheat days are a nice psychological break from a standard calorie restrictive six pack abs diet but also serve a role in accelerating fat loss. Levels of the hormone lepin, which controls appetite, fall by 50% after a week of a calorie restrictive diet. This results in a decreased metabolism. By having a cheat day, leptin levels are replenished and your metabolism is preserved. Joel Marion covers this in great detail in Cheat Your Way Thin. During maintenance mode, I allow myself to go all out one day per week and indulge in whatever I want. However, for my six pack abs routine, I did more of a “clean cheat” where I ate plenty of calories but tried to focus on higher quality food and less junk food.
Finally, for me, calorie cycling involves eating higher calories and more carbs on workout days and lower calories and fewer carbs on non-workout days. I discuss this strategy in more detail in my article about calorie cycling.
Here’s what a typical day looked like for my six pack abs diet:
9:00 – Fruit
10:30 – Fruit
12:00 – Sandwich with pretzels
2:00 – Fruit
4:00 – Raw vegetables
6:00 – Salad with fat free dressing; lean meat with vegetables; sugar free/fat free Jello/pudding
Six Pack Abs Workout
With a fat burning diet in place, it’s time to shift focus to a six pack abs workout routine. The main goal of strength training during such a time is to preserve muscle while maximizing fat burning. I performed weight training and bodyweight exercises to preserve muscle and utilized circuit training and cardio for fat burning. In total, I exercised 5 hours per week, more than 3-4 hours I usually do but well worth it for the results I got.
For strength training, I did a hybrid approach utilizing principles of Visual Impact Muscle Building for weight training and Convict Conditioning for bodyweight training. For my six pack abs workout, weight training was done with 3-5 reps with heavy weights. In the interest of time, I only rested 1 minute between sets. I followed that up by performing bodyweight exercises, many of which involved EXF rings.
For fat burning, I ended workouts with circuit training and steady state cardio, time permitting. Circuit training is simply doing multiple exercises one after another with little to no rest in order to increase your heart rate. After increasing your heart rate and releasing fatty acids into your system, it’s best to use steady state cardio to burn those fatty acids. I added 30 minutes of these components on the weekends when I had more time to exercise. I separately performed morning cardio involving 15 minutes of HIIT and 15 minutes of steady state cardio 2 days per week.
Here’s what my weekly six pack abs workout routine looked like:
Saturday: pushing exercises (30 minutes); circuit training / boxing (15 minutes); steady state cardio (15 minutes)
Sunday: pulling exercises (30 minutes); circuit training / rowing (15 minutes); steady state cardio (15 minutes)
Monday: morning six pack abs exercises (20 minutes)
Tuesday: morning cardio (30 minutes); night time pulling exercises (30 minutes)
Wednesday: morning six pack abs exercises (20 minutes); night time pushing exercises (30 minutes)
Thursday: morning cardio (30 minutes)
Friday: morning six pack abs exercises (20 minutes)
Six Pack Abs Exercises
Everyone loves to train their abs. However, this is the least critical component of getting six pack abs. Too many people waste time on crunches when they could get a more effective workout by doing planks. Start by getting your body fat low enough with diet and exercise and then start incorporating six pack abs exercises to increase definition.
I combined abs exercises with back exercises and forearm/grip strength training. Back exercises tend to balance out the effect of ab exercises that cause your spine to flex forward. I do a lot of hanging ab exercises which is why I do forearm/grip strength training simultaneously. I superset ab, back, and grip exercises together for a faster workout. Many of these ab exercises are taken from the free Abs Blueprint report.
Warm Up Gripper: 10 reps regular; 10 reps inverted
Feet to the Bar Bent Leg Raises: 10 reps
Ab Twist: 10 reps each side
Neck Bridge: 1 minute
100 Grip Inverted: 3 reps
Swinging Side to Side Bent Knee Ups: failure
Captain’s Chair Leg Raises: 10 reps
Back Bridge: 1 minute
150 Grip Regular: 1 rep
Stomach Flattener: 10 reps
150 Grip Inverted: 1 rep
Stomach Vacuum: 10 reps
200 Grip Regular: 5 reps
Elevated Plank: 2 minutes
200 Grip Inverted: 5 reps
Side Planks: 1 minute each side
250 Grip Hold: 5 seconds
Lying Leg Raises: 10 reps
Lying Leg Hold: 30 seconds
Hip Bridge: 1 minute
Bar Hang: failure
Cat Vomit (from Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Body; essentially a stomach vacuum on all fours): 10 reps
Front Neck Bridge: 1 minute
Warm Up Gripper: 50 reps regular; 50 reps inverted
Get Six Pack Abs
So there you have it. Those are the best tips I can offer on how to get six pack abs. The six pack abs workout routine and diet plan I shared above helped me reduce my body fat from 11-12% to around 8-9% over the past couple months. Combined with the six pack abs exercises I listed, my abs are as defined as they have ever been. It’s not going to be easy, but with time and determination, you can get six pack abs.
- Sample Workout Routine and Diet Plan
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