Is there any better shorthand for a physically fit body than a set of well-defined, six-pack abs? For many people into fitness, a perfect six-pack is the ultimate sign of success, the thing they’ve putting all that sweat into. But what happens when your six-pack never appears, no matter how much work you put into it?
As with all things fitness and lifting, different bodies have different thresholds and different requirements for results. A routine that gives one person a six-pack in no time at all may never work for someone else. If you’re having trouble building your six-pack, here are some tips you can try to get the muscles you want:
1. Lose the body fat – If you’re doing thousands of crunches every week and still not seeing defined, well-toned abs, your ab routine may not be the problem. It’s a simple fact of six-pack abs that, in order to appear, you need to be able to see them. In other words, excess body fat may be hiding your abs from view. The target body fat ratio for men who want a six-pack is less than 10%; for women, it’s less than 18%. If you’re over those numbers, step up the cardio and weight lifting to burn off the excess body fat.
2. Don’t just stick to crunches – There’s a common misconception that doing a lot of crunches is all you need to build a six-pack. Like any workout routine that says one exercise alone will get you perfect results, the all-crunches approach is all wrong. Why? Because crunches don’t work the lower abs enough, meaning that other ab workouts like hanging leg raises are also required.
3. Give the abs a rest – Think doing ab exercises 5-7 times a week is going to get you a six-pack faster? If you do, you might instead be sabotaging your fitness efforts. If you work your abs every day, or even every other day, you’re not giving them the time they need to rest and grow. If you want that six-pack, only do ab exercises once every three days. Any more than that is probably too much.
4. Challenge yourself – If you’re not slowly increasing the difficulty of your workout, you’re never going to meet your fitness goals. Muscles grow based on a principle called progressive resistance. In order to develop, the difficulty of your workout needs to increase. That means upping the amount of weight lifted, the level of pressure applied, and the number of exercises done.
5. Protein, protein, protein – There’s a reason fitness buffs and professional sportsmen won’t shut up about the amount of protein they intake. Protein builds lean muscle and helps burn body fat; the body burns lots of calories just breaking the protein in your system down. Your body needs fuel to burn in order to build that six-pack – eat lots of protein before your workout, and follow it up with carbohydrates for your post-workout meal.
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When beginners start coming to the gym, it can seem like walking into a place filled with strangers who all expect you to know and follow a whole host of unspoken rules and traditions. While the “rules” will become a lot clearer after just a few workout sessions, there are definitely some workout etiquette rules that beginners should remember. Along with obvious rules of public decorum (don’t go into other people’s lockers to steal their protein bars, etc.), be sure to follow these rules for proper gym behavior:
- Respect the gear – One of the most important rules to pay attention to at the local gym is to treat the building and the equipment with respect. When someone new comes in and clearly doesn’t respect the gym or its patrons, they’re on the path to not being accepted and possibly being asked to go elsewhere. Use weights and machines as they’re intended, don’t drop or mishandle them, and clean all your gear after you’re done. No one wants to be cleaning up after you or mopping up your sweat in order to use the gym once they’re done. And remember: gym mirrors aren’t there for primping, pampering, or applying cosmetics. That’s what the bathrooms are for.
- Put away the phone – Everyone’s addicted to their smartphones these days, but the gym should definitely be considered a “cell free” zone. Unless you’re running a fitness app, there’s no reason you should be fiddling with or talking on your phone while using the gym equipment. People waiting for you will start getting impatient when it looks like you aren’t taking your workout seriously, and the people around you are likely to get annoyed pretty fast with your yakking on the phone. Remember, the gym is a shared space: treat the people around you like you would want to be treated.
- Be sure to share – Sometimes there aren’t enough machines or weights for everyone, and that means having to wait. If you find yourself waiting for a spot, don’t crowd the person you’re waiting for or bother them by trying to push them along. Instead, do some stretches or easy workouts that don’t take up too much walkway space while waiting for your turn. If you find yourself in the position of making people wait, on the other hand, don’t linger longer than necessary or try to prevent someone else from using a machine. That said, don’t let yourself be pushed around or pressured into giving up your spot or trying to do your workout too fast, either.
- Remember you’re in public – It may seem like an obvious thing to say, but people at the gym sometimes seem to have a hard time remembering that there are other people around them. While the gym certainly has more lax dress standards than most other public spaces, that doesn’t mean that you should be wearing something so revealing, dumpy, or gross that the people around you are embarrassed to be seen with you.
- Practice good hygiene – When you’re at the gym, you’re going to get sweaty and smelly, and there’s not much you can do about it. But that doesn’t mean you should completely forget your manners and good hygiene. Be sure to clean up after yourself, and try to be as un-gross as possible. Also, remember to wear your deodorant. Please.
Get more workout and exercise tips today by visiting our blog or contacting us at Promax Nutrition.