Six Pack Abs/Core Guide

Physical conditioning, injuries, nutrition and everything related to fitness
Soccer4Life
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Six Pack Abs/Core Guide

Post by Soccer4Life » 13 Jun 2007, 14:52

While in the process of writing this guide, two others were written as well that I was unaware of until this guide neared its completetion stage. You can view them here and here. Hopfefully not too much information will be repeated and new information is brought to you in this guide.

Table of Contents
Part I: Introduction
Part II: What is your "Core"?
Part III: Why Core/Ab Training is So Important
Part IV: Common Myths
Part V: The Truth About Abs and How to Achieve Them
Part VI: Boosting Your Metabolism to Burn Fat
Part VII: Proper Nutrition and Nutrition Science
Part VIII: Fullproof Core and Abdominal Exercises

Part I: Introduction
Who doesn't want a washboard set of flat, six pack abs? It's the most popular area in the human body, and one of the most heavily researched. Even some of the most trained bodybuilders and gym enthusists have yet to gain a set of rock hard abs. However, in this guide, I hope to let you know the truth about abs so you can set yourself apart from the crowd. Use this information to put yourself on your way to the abs of your dreams. Remember, though, that its YOU in the end who will have to do the work. Guides can only get you so far.

Also remember that I'm no PhD, so if you are in any kind of physcial disadvantage, it's best to consult a physician before starting any new training plan or diet. Please, talk to your doctor before doing any extreme life changes. I can't be held liable. Enough of this medical crap. On with the guide!

Part II: What is your "Core"?
Your core is a group of muscles in your mid-section and lower back. It includes the following;

Rectus Abdominis
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Transverse Abdominis
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External Oblique
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Internal Oblique
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Lower Trapezius
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Erector Spinae
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These muscles all work together to stabalize your body and help all of your muscles work in accord. To learn why they are so critical, how they can help your performance, and how they can hinder your lifestyle, look to the next section.


Part III: Why Core/Ab Training is So Important
There are more reasons to work out your abs and core besides just wanting a six pack. Not having a well-developed core can actually hinder your athletic performance. Especially when it comes to football. With a strong core you can have these benefits to help your game:

1. Your legs have a stronger anchor point, allowing a stronger, more controlled shot and better running strides.

2. You will maintain balance easier.

3. Arm and other upper body movements are more stable and controlled.

And those are just the direct ways your performance is enhanced with a strong core. With a strong core, you are carrying an optimal weight for your height. Which helps with overall fitness, health, and possibly sprinting speed. Core development is so critical because it affects your performance in such positive ways. Think of the difference you could make if you added some core training. (Which we WILL discuss later!)

However, even if you didn't play football, there are still reasons that core training can be critical. Two important reasons to be more specific; subcutaneous fat and visceral fat. Subcutaneous fat is what's directly beneath the skin and on top of your abdmonial muscles. However, visceral fat is in and under your abdominal muscles. Aside from being plainly undesireable, these fats have been proven to increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease, getting cancer or strokes, and many other things that go way beyond just undesirable.

Part IV: Common Myths
These are 6 common myths or misconceptions that should be cleared up right away before going anymore into core information.

Myth 1: I just have to do a lot of situps and running for a six pack.
Not only are situps ineffective and running isn't the only way to burn fat, but this leaves out the most important element of gaining a six pack; nutrition. Without proper nutrition, you're fighting an impossible battle. Does it really make sense to say "I want a six pack" then go out and eat a cheeseburger with fries, a soft drink, then ice cream for dessert? I sure hope something about that suonds wrong to you.

Myth 2: There are 6-8 muscles in the rectus abdominis.
The rectus abdominis is one muscles that eludes to 6 or 8 parts because of the tendons stretching across it. That's why you can get an "eight pack" by burning fat above the lower part of your rectus addominis. Just remember, it's only one muscle.

Myth 3: I can work out my core/abs everday.
If you want any results, you need to give your muscles time to rest and repair themselves. There's no need to work your core or abs more than 3-4 times a week.

Myth 4: Abs are different from normal muscles, so I can/should treat them differently.
Abs are just like any other muscle in the body. They need rest and can't be worked every day. The only distinct difference would be that they take more streneous exercise to become defined.

Myth 5: Doing enough core/ab exercise will make my core/ab muscles bigger.
Your ab mucles won't change size; they aren't ment to. The only thing exercise does is boost your metabolism (more later) and define your abs. Exercise also helps with muscular endurance.

Myth 6: I don't need to work every muscle in my core/Not every core muscle is important.
Incorrect on both accounts. Your core muscles work in must work in accord for 100% full athletic performance. Every muscle has it's own job and it vital in the process. Make sure to leave nothing out of your routine.

Part V: The Truth About Abs and How to Achieve Them
The nitty gritty truth about abdominals is that you have to engage in a fat-burning lifestyle and understand that you will have to burn fat all around and not just focus on your abs and core. There is so such thing as spot reduction. You shouldn't expect to lost fat around your belly if you're ignoring your upper body. Fat burning takes place around the whole body, and above your mid-section is one of the last places this will occur. To burn fat, you must raise your metabolism and consume the proper foods to give you energy and nutrients that your muscles need to repair themselves.

You must also stay in balance, and work out all the major muscle groups in your body. One of the worst things you can do is work on your abs too much. That's one of the most common mistakes people make. Doing 100's of crunches, situps, and leg raises will increase your muscular endurance and maybe a little muscular definition, but that's it! Ab exercises don't trigger as much of a metabolic response as other exercises do. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying don't workout your abs, I'm just saying that you should try to not isolate them too much, or you'll be wasting your time. Use full body exercises as much as you can!

Another thing to keep in mind is that if you're doing sets of exercises with 50-100+ repeitions, you either aren't using proper form, or you need to find a more challenging exercise. If you were lifting weights, would you do 6-12 reps with a 30 lb weight or 60-120 reps with a 3 lb weight? If you wanted any results at all, you would probably go for the larger weight! Same goes for core exercises. You need to focus on nailing your form on the easy ones and finding more challenging exercises in general.

So, that's it? Raise my metabolism, workout my whole body using effective exercises and eat right to fuel my body? That's all I have to do to get a six pack?

Yes, those are the major concepts you need to do. The truth is that most people go about getting abs the wrong way. By just knowing basic facts about nutrition, fat-burning, and some good exercises you can get a six pack and strong core. It's not as hard as people make it out to be! It takes time and dedication, but once you've figured that out, you're on your way to a healthy lifestyle and a six pack is in your future!

Part VI: Boosting Your Metabolism to Burn Fat
So you've hear me talk about "raising your metabolism". So, what is your metabolism? And how do you raise it? Your metabolism is the set of chemical reactions that go on in living cells. The faster these chemical reactions happen, the faster the rate you will burn fat at. And, burning fat, as we've said before, is one of 3 vital parts of achieving a strong core and six pack. You can raise your metabolism by doing some/all of the following things:

1. Aim to eat 5-8 small meals a day, 2-4 hours apart. The food will fuel your body to keep a high metabolism, because the chemical reactions need energy to work, therefore you need enough fuel for your body to raise your metabolism. Make sure that you don't eat too much, though, or your body will store exess materials as fat.

2. Don't skip breakfast. If you do, your body will store calories as fat, rather than using them as energy. And energy is important in raising your metabolism.

3. Regularly exercise. It will get your heart rate up, which in turn will raise your metabolism. Walking and running are two great cardiovascular examples, and will also help your heart be more efficient.

4. Have two separate workouts; cardio in the morning, and strength in the afternoon. This will keep your metabolism up all throughout the day, which turns to more fat burning!

5. Incorporate some type of bodyweight or weightlifting exercise to build muscles. The more muscle you have, the more fat you will burn. (1 lb of mucle burns 1lb of fat every 70 days.) This is why ab exercises don't trigger as much of a metabolic response: they keep nearly the same muscle mass, so exercising larger muscle groups is more efficient.

6. Use some type of interval or circuit training. It's good for keeping your metabolism up.

7. Eat sufficient carbohydrates, and protein. Each of these is very important in your metabolism. Without sufficient portions, you will end up slowing down your metabolism rather than speeding it up. More in teh next section.


Part VII: Proper Nutrition and Nutrition Science
Nutrition is a very imporant part of training your core, specificly for a six pack. You must eat the right food to fuel your body and build your muscles. Once a bodybuilder said "Getting a six pack is 70% nutrition and only 30% exercising." Obviously this is putting the emphasis on nutrition over the exercises. Both are important, but even the slightest problems in your nutritional plan can be the downfall of your core training program.

You should try to stay away from trans fats, lots of sugar and sodium, simple carbohydrates, and anything that is overall greasy or processed. You should consume enough complex corbohydrates, proteins, and essential fatty acids or EFAs (mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated).

Fats- It's a common myth that all fat is bad and you should try to steer clear of fat if you want any results. Well, that's plain wrong. You should stay away from trans fats, because they are unnatural and are mostly stored rather than used as energy later on. However, your diet should contain EFAs as they are healthy to consume in smaller quantities 25-28 grams a day. You also should consume a certain, but slighly limited, ammount of saturated, or normal fat. If you take all or most of the fat out of your diet, you won't be able to build muscle because muscles have fat in them, and you will have to rely too much on other energy sources.

Sodium- Sodium is essential in our daily lifestyle. One of the most important things it does is to maintain the right balance of fluid in your body. However too much sodium can cause this balance of fluid to become unbalanced, and that is very unhealthy for your body. The average adult should consume 15-24 grams of sodium everyday. However most people eat much more than that because of the high ammounts of sodium in processed foods.

Calories- Calories are heat energy. The number of calories in any given food in the ammount of potential energy that food has. Each gram of fat has 9 calories, while each gram of protein and carbohydrates only have 4 grams. So, that means that fats are more effiecient energy wise, but only when consumed in smaller portions. However, overall, it's best to have no more than 30% of your calories come from fat. Realize that "cutting calories" isn't what you should be worrying about. More so, worry about where your calories are coming from.

Carbohydrates- Once taken in, glucose formed by carbohydrates is used as energy. Carbohydrates, or carbs, can be divided into two types - simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates are molecules smaller than complex carbohydrates. They are broken down quicker, thus supplying you with a quick boost of energy. However, simple carbs won't fill you for long because the energy is being used up so quickly. On the other hand, complex carbohydrates are more efficient, because they aren't used up so quickly and you won't get hungry so quick after eating them.

Protein- Protein is very important in your diet because that's what muscles are mainly built out of. You need protein to increase the your muscle mass and increasing your muscle mass is one of the best ways to increase your metabolism - thus burning more fat. It is important to consume protein 30 minutes after exercise because it rebuilds your muscles faster and allows them to recover quicker.

Also look at the nutrtion guides here, here, here, and here. Sorry for any repetition.

Part VIII: Fullproof Core and Abdominal Exercises
Now we come to the last part of core training; the exercises themselves. For a good core program, try to find some challenging exercises that you can do no more than 10-20 reps of. Mix them with some exercises where you do 30-40, but really no more reps than that. Find about 6-8 exercises and repeat every 36-48 hours. You will need to mix up your routine every 4-8 weeks or your body will adjust to the exercises and will stop adapting. Some people refer to this as an exercises "plateau".

Bicycle Crunches
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Difficulty: Easy

Belly Blaster
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Difficulty: Easy

Plank Knee-ins
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Difficulty: Easy

Plank
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Difficulty: Easy

Superman
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Difficulty: Easy

Scissor Kicks
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Difficulty: Easy

Side Plank
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Difficulty: Medium

Double Leg Raise
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Difficulty: Medium

Burpees
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Difficulty: Medium

Situp Hold
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Difficulty: Medium


Straight Leg Obliques
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Difficulty: Medium

Double Crunch
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Difficulty: Medium


Power Boat Pose
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Difficulty: Hard


V-Up
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Difficulty: Hard



Thanks to BodyBuilding.Com for the pictures in part II.

Thanks to this website for the images in part VIII.


Comments, questions, and sugestions are all open. Thanks for reading the guide!

P.S.This is my 1,000 post!!!

Real_Zidane
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Post by Real_Zidane » 13 Jun 2007, 15:12

That's a hella long guide. Goes very in-depth i'm sure I will be done reading it by tomorrow. :P Nice work!
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adnankhan
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Post by adnankhan » 13 Jun 2007, 15:40

and i really didn't understand about the part that u said...about the size and how to stretch u r abs.....cuz my abs r really small and they are all above my belly button ...
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Soccer4Life
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Post by Soccer4Life » 13 Jun 2007, 15:44

I wasn't talking about stretching your abs. I was saying that tendons stretch across your rectus abdomins making it look like 6 or 8 parts when it is really only 1 muscle. Also I said that your abs don't increase in size much (it's hardly noticeable), they just become defined and able to endure more streneous exercise.

Real_Zidane
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Post by Real_Zidane » 20 Jun 2007, 20:10

What are examples of simple and complex carb-rich foods?
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soccerdude510
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Post by soccerdude510 » 21 Jun 2007, 02:39

although sometimes i dont understand i am gonna try and build up a six pack.....a six pack of soda lol jk

gnarlyjim
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Post by gnarlyjim » 21 Jun 2007, 02:44

Wow.. what a guide. Amazing work Soccer4life.
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zizou
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Post by zizou » 04 Jul 2007, 14:24

when i do the power boat exercise thing, a muscle or something on the front of my thigh starts to really hurt. does anyone know what this is?

belija91
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Post by belija91 » 04 Jul 2007, 14:51

This is a great guide, well done.
What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve

Soccer4Life
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Post by Soccer4Life » 04 Jul 2007, 15:50

Real_Zidane wrote:What are examples of simple and complex carb-rich foods?
Simple- anything high in sugar, e.g. candy, ice cream, etc.
Complex- pasta, bread, and brown rice
zizou wrote:when i do the power boat exercise thing, a muscle or something on the front of my thigh starts to really hurt. does anyone know what this is?
I'm not sure what you're referring to, but make sure you stretch out really well before performing that specific exercise.

gnarlyjim
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Post by gnarlyjim » 04 Jul 2007, 17:06

What are the different positions when you're doing burpees?
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Soccer4Life
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Post by Soccer4Life » 04 Jul 2007, 17:13

You start in a push up position (whether or not you choose to do the push up is your choice, I don't). Then you bring in your legs without moving your arms so you sort of look like a frog. From that position, you explode up, then jump back down to a push up position and repeat the cycle. It's a very effective exercise.

Midfielder
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Post by Midfielder » 29 Jul 2007, 13:01

"Myth 1: I just have to do a lot of situps and running for a six pack.
Not only are situps ineffective and running isn't the only way to burn fat, but this leaves out the most important element of gaining a six pack; nutrition. Without proper nutrition, you're fighting an impossible battle. Does it really make sense to say "I want a six pack" then go out and eat a cheeseburger with fries, a soft drink, then ice cream for dessert? I sure hope something about that suonds wrong to you.
"

What if you can't get fat... like you have a slim build. I'd imagine if you ate non-stop junk food it wouldn't work, but if you were on a balanced sort of diet, would it work?
"We win and we lose, it's just the way it is."
Skill - Once you have it, you love it!

Icy
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Post by Icy » 29 Jul 2007, 13:50

Midfielder that completely depends on the person. To be truthful though if you're wanting a '6-pack' you'll need to be on a great diet sooner or later. You're metabolism doesn't work as great as it does in your teens forever. So it's best just to get on a 'perfect' diet because if you want to keep the 6-pack you will need to sooner or later.

Not only that but you feel about 10 times better after a week or two of eating healthier foods. The first few days are hard just because you'll feel like you don't have as much energy as you did when you could sip on something 100% sugar but it will go away.
"Somewhere along the line, we seem to have confused comfort with happiness"

Midfielder
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Post by Midfielder » 30 Jul 2007, 08:53

Thanks for your reply, I understand what your talking about, but I'm not going to go "all healthy" because I play soccer for fun and fitness, and something to set a goal for and complete... and of course, show off my skill!

But I don't need to be completely fit and strong at the moment, not until I'm 16 for when I train for the Army.
"We win and we lose, it's just the way it is."
Skill - Once you have it, you love it!

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