Ah. the never ending quest for those elusive six-pack abs. William Moffitt from Vancouver asked us: “What are the best exercises and order of exercises to get a six-pack stomach?” The Globe’s fitness expert Kathleen Trotter, says she wishes she could give you the “five miracle exercises guaranteed to give you a six pack” – but she can’t. “Anyone who tells you that is either lying, misinformed or trying to sell you their product,” she says. That said, here’s her sage advice for six-pack success:
Before I delve into the fitness aspect, there’s one big caveat: your body fat has to be low enough for your hard-earned muscles to be visible. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, managing your stress levels and being mindful of your nutrition. No amount of planks and crunches can compensate for a poor diet. (For more on a healthy diet, check out columns from Globe dietitian Leslie Beck.)
Obviously one important aspect of getting a six pack is strengthening the core. In my videos, I provide great exercises to do just that.I suggest using my videos to develop a well balanced routine that strengthens all elements of your core. A balanced routine is key. It will help you stay injury free. If you injure yourself you won’t be able to be as active. Aim to complete the routine three days per week on non-consecutive days. The routine should include exercises that work your rectus abdominals (the actual “six pack” muscle), your obliques (your waist), your lower back and your deep core.
Here’s one of my videos for proper front plank form:
When doing the exercises remember the following Kathleenism: you have to earn the right to progress. Master the basic version of every exercise before you increase the intensity.
Next, work to improve your metabolism. Two to three times per week, do multi-joint strength exercises like squats, deadlifts and push-ups. Follow my strength training videos for both upper body and lower. And don’t phone in your cardio workout. Challenge yourself by doing interval style cardio workouts. After a five minute warm up alternate bouts of intense work with periods of recovery.
Lastly, keep in mind that every body will react to exercise in a slightly different way. Your age, gender, exercise history, the medications you are on and your genetics will affect how easily you can gain and lose both fat and muscle.
Some people – usually young men – are able to get a six pack with much less effort than others. For many women a six pack is not a realistic or safe goal. If you never get a six pack, don’t bediscouraged. Don’t use a lack of a six pack as an excuse to stop moving – exercise will make you feel better. Remember one of my favorite ‘Kathleenisms’: You are only ever one workout away from a better mood.