This is How to Really Get Those Abs You Want This Summer

Man lying down on a tennis court

When it comes to losing weight, we’ve all fallen for (or at the very least, been tempted to fall for) pills, diets, and supplements that promise quick fixes to our weight issues.

But while those fixes – the supplements, workout DVDs, cookbooks, and pieces of fitness equipment – might not be entirely ineffective in helping you reach your goals, we can say that even when are legitimate, they probably won’t work. A diet pill might give you a little boost when you’re trying to lose weight for example, but it can never work without diet and exercise, too.

The same follows for a piece of fitness equipment. Sure, a particular gadget or machine might help strengthen your abs, but you’re not necessarily going to get the results you want from that alone. It’s the combination of that workout with a proper diet and maybe a nutritional supplement or two that will move you along.

Basically, the idea is that there are plenty of things that can help you work your way towards the abs and core you’re after, but each of those things alone is almost always not enough to get you there. Instead, each just factors in as a single part of the equation. To help you navigate it all a bit better, here’s my fool-proof plan to achieving the ab goals you’re looking for.

Step 1: Set your goal.

So you want a six pack? Okay, great. Do you know when you want it by? Do you know what level of visibility you’d be happy with? Are you just looking for a basic outline (this would entail about 12-17 percent body fat) or are you in it for full-blown, rock-hard abs (which would entail about 5-10 percent body fat)? It’s important to make your decisions and then set targets based around this. Start by finding out what your current body fat percentage is, and once you know that, you can work out how much lean mass you have (i.e. your body weight minus all of the body fat). This lean mass is basically the amount you would weigh if you had zero body fat. So if you weigh 100kg and have 20 percent body fat and want to get down to 10 percent body fat, then you know you need to lose 10kg of fat. (Bodyweight =100kg minus 20% fat = 80kg + 10% fat = 90kg).

Step 2: Create a calorie deficit.

Fat loss is all about burning more calories than you’re consuming because the energy imbalance forces your body to burn stored energy – i.e., fat – to redress the balance. There are two basic ways to create a calorie deficit every day: you either need to boost your calorie burn or you need to eat fewer calories. You can pick one or the other, or you can gain maximum results by striking a balance between the two.

Even if you know what you need to be doing to achieve your calorie deficit-cutting down on daily caloric intake and revving up your daily calorie burn by increasing your physical activity every day – one of the key pieces of the deficit puzzle is the dreaded task of calorie counting. Without have a rough estimate of how many calories you’re consuming and burning off every day, it’s hard to have an idea of how each is stacking up against the other.

Step 3: Work out your abs.

Getting that sought-after six pack is about a lot more than just losing fat; you still need to work those abdominal muscles. Crunches, planks, ab wheel rollouts, and leg raises (just to name a few) should all be part of your routine. Doing them on the regular will increase the size of the abdominal muscles, making it easier for them to be seen. Sure, there’s the school of thought that claims “abs are made in the kitchen,” and while diet definitely plays into it, don’t be confused into thinking you can achieve your ab goals through diet alone. Your core consists of muscles that, just like other muscles in your body, needs to be trained and rested in order to see major change over time.

Wondering where to start? Below, you’ll find two versions of a similar workout to sculpt your abs: one for beginners, and one for those looking for something a bit more advanced. For either of the routines, you simply need to perform the series of three exercises, remembering to do the workout on both sides where applicable and to rest for the prescribed amount of time between sets. Once you’ve gone through the series of three exercises, you’ll want to repeat the circuit one or two more times depending on which program you’re performing.

As for the tempo, the first digit represents the amount of time in seconds during the lowering portion of the movement and the third digit represents the amount of time in seconds during the raising portion of the movement. For any exercise that identifies the tempo as “hold,” that just means you’ll need to hold the position for the prescribed amount of time.

Finally, for “load,” or resistance, any exercises that call for a weight other than your bodyweight (these are the ones labelled “TBD”) just call for you to pick a resistance band tension (or you could use a cable column if you’re at the gym) that is challenging enough to give you a good workout while still allowing you to perform the exercise for the prescribed amount of time while being able to maintain proper form.

Beginner Routine

Reverse Crunch—Floor

Sets: 2
Reps: 8-10
Load: Bodyweight
Tempo: 2010
Rest: 60 seconds

Side Plank—Modified

Sets: 2
Reps: 15-20 seconds/side
Load: Bodyweight
Tempo: Hold
Rest: 60 seconds

Pallof Press—Resistance Band—Half Kneeling

Sets: 2
Reps: 15-20 seconds/side
Load: TBD
Tempo: Hold
Rest: 60 seconds

Intermediate/Advanced Routine

Reverse Crunch—Decline Bench

Sets: 3
Reps: 10-12
Load: Bodyweight
Tempo: 2020
Rest: 30 seconds

Side Plank—Forearm Position

Sets: 3
Reps: 30-60 seconds/side
Load: Bodyweight
Tempo: Hold
Rest: 30 seconds

Pallof Press—Resistance Band—6 to 12

Sets: 3
Reps: 30-60 seconds/side
Load: TBD
Tempo: Hold
Rest: 60 seconds 

Note: If you click on the movements above you will be able to see a short video clip of the exercise as well as the complete description of how to perform each movement.