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The Truth About Abs And How To Get Them
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The Truth About Abs And How To Get Them

The much envied and ever sought after six pack... Who doesn't want rock hard abs? Wouldn't it be great to have the confidence to not cringe every time you get into a bathing suit or take your shirt off at the pool or beach? Let's face it, well toned abs look hot and we'd all feel a little better about ourselves if we had them. But how do you get them and is it even possible for everyone? Hopefully the following article will shed some light on a very tricky subject, and even give us all a little hope that we can lose belly fat and achieve that six pack if we really want it!

If you've ever done much research about abs in the past, I'm sure you've heard a million times that it's about 80% diet and 20% exercise. That's not to say that you don't have to work out, because you certainly do! You just need to pay extra special attention to what you're eating, how much of it you're consuming and when. Sound complicated? It doesn't really have to be, and by making it as simple as possible you'll find it easier to get the results you want!

When I first started to get interested in fitness and nutrition about 10 or 11 years ago I read everything I could and pretty much got overwhelmed with how much there was to learn and how technical and precise the whole meal preparation thing seemed to be. I've since learned that unless you are trying to compete in bodybuilding or fitness circles, you really don't have to weigh and measure everything you eat even though you do have to be conscious of portion sizes and meal timing.

In my personal "ab quest" I've found the most effective "diet" to follow is the basic bodybuilding diet. Even if you aren't looking to gain huge amounts of muscle or uncover that hidden six pack and you just want to shed some pounds and get into better shape, in my opinion a basic diet like this is the way to do it. It's an effective way to lose weight and keep it off, and it's relatively easy to maintain and stick to. Like I said before, simplify and it makes it so much easier to reach your goals!

So, what makes up a very basic bodybuilding diet? It's easy! You really just need a portion of protein and a portion of complex carbs at every meal, and you need to eat 5 to 6 small meals per day, spaced 2 to 3 hours apart. Add a portion of veggies to 3 or 4 of those meals each day and you are set! Not too bad eh? That's really about as simple as it gets and if you go online and look up lean protein sources and complex carbs you'll find nice lists of what's good and what's not to construct your meals out of.

How do you know the correct portion sizes if you don't weigh or measure your food? Over the years I've found the most simple but still effective way is to measure a serving of protein as about the size of a deck of cards or the palm of your hand, and a serving of carbs as about the size of your closed fist. I typically measure my veggies by my closed fist as well. If you measure this way, you really don't have to get too technical and worry about figuring out your exact calorie requirements per day etc as it should take care of itself. However, if you really want to figure out those numbers, you can easily find the tools to do it online.

If you find by following the first method that you really aren't losing any weight or belly fat, you might also want to figure out your calorie requirements and get a little bit more technical by manipulating your percentages of protein and carbs consumed until you do see the results you want e.g 60% of calories per day from protein, 40% from carbs or whatever you find works for you. Sometimes when you've lost a bunch of weight and you're down to your last little bit of belly fat you might find you need to get a bit more technical as well if you really want to burn the last of the fat and expose those abs!

So, now that you have the diet part down and know what you should be eating, how much and when, what about the exercise part? It's also easier than you would think, except that you do have to put in the effort! Cardio is very important as it burns fat, but weight training to build muscle and lose fat is important too.

I generally split my body into "upper body" and "lower body" and weight train 3 times per week, which means that one week I work upper body twice and the next week I work lower body twice and so on. On the days I don't hit the gym for weights, I do cardio (running, bike, elliptical, rowing machine). I work my abs on the days I do cardio, right after my workout.

You don't want to over-train your abs, just like any other muscle group, and there's much debate about how much is too much training or how much is enough. Do some research and then try out some different strategies to see what might work for you. Also, research a whole bunch of different abdominal exercises and try them out to see what gives you results and what doesn't because the same things won't work for everyone.

One thing I have found in my search for great abs is that I can't train my obliques (side abs) too much or they tend to get "thick" and I don't look as toned as I would like. I guess my point here is just to research different workouts then try different strategies until you find what works best for you!

So there you have it - the "secret" to great abs... not such a secret really! I think the key really is making a diet and exercise plan (heavy emphasis on diet if you want those abs!) and being diligent about sticking with your plan. Consistency will reap great rewards if you can master it!

That being said, you also have to keep in mind that genetics plays a great role in our body shape and athletic abilities so not everyone will get the same results, or in the same time frame. I do believe though that even if you have to work harder than the guy next door, you can still lose your belly fat and have great abs if you are willing to work hard and eat well!


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