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Model Trainer Heather Marr's Guide To Building 6-Pack Abs
Six-pack abs: Many of us want them and train for them, but few of us ever get them. As an independent personal trainer, I work out of many gyms and see the same mistakes over and over. Members will spend half of their allotted time in the gym doing crunches or other ab isolation moves, but more often than not, their body fat is too high to show any definition whatsoever in that area. They can crunch their lives away, but they'll never get the 6-pack abs they're striving for. The only way to build abs is to train and eat intelligently. So, how exactly do you do that? Here are my top tips:
1. Maximize your time
For most people, it's not realistic to spend hours in the gym every day. Maximizing your time in the gym and training intelligently is crucial. Heavy exercises like squats, bent-over rows, deadlifts, and shoulder presses are all effective exercises to add and maintain muscle mass, boost metabolism, and help lower body fat, all of which is necessary to reveal those abs. They also help to strengthen the core. These types of exercises should be the bread and butter in your training programs, especially if you can only get to the gym a couple days a week. If you only have one hour to train legs, for example, fill that hour with heavy leg work like squats, lunges, and deadlifts instead of 30 minutes of light leg work and 30 minutes of abs.
2. Create a calorie deficit
Second, you need to create a calorie deficit to lower body fat and show definition in your abs. When it comes to nutrition, a common mistake I see is lack of portion control and food preparation. Someone may train intelligently and eat healthy foods, but still not see results because they're taking in more or the same amount of calories they're expending. If you want to see your abs, you need to be in deficit; there's no way around it.
Also, most people don't realize their "healthy" takeout isn't so healthy. The easiest way to know what and how much you’re actually eating is to prepare your own food. Set a day aside each week to prep your meals for the week and bring lunches with you instead of eating out. This is by far one of the easiest ways to set yourself up for success.
3. Add in cardio
Third, if you're not already doing it, add cardio to your routine. Treat cardio like any other workout by challenging yourself and using your time effectively. For example, if you have 30 minutes to do cardio that day, a casual stroll in the park is probably not your best choice or use of time. Instead, hit the stepmill or treadmill for high-intensity intervals. You want to get the most bang for your buck with the time you have.
A few of my favorite ways to get my cardio in is on the stepmill, performing continuous walking lunges outdoors for a set amount of time, or running a set distance with my dog. Find activities that you enjoy doing and that are convenient for you, challenge yourself, and use your time wisely. If you only have one hour including your drive to the gym for cardio that day, skip the commute and go for a run outdoors instead.
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