It’d be fair to say that lockdown could have been pretty brutal on your waistline, leaving your midriff looking less like a six-pack and more… well, like just one large, rather blobby pack. However, if seeing gyms reopening has put you in the mood to work on your abs, it’s not taxing to start.
In many ways, sculpting abs to impressive effect is a case of “easy once you know how”. Well, okay, maybe not quite “easy” – but here are some good pointers to follow initially.
Make sure your diet is on point
Here’s a little secret that even seems elusive to many personal trainers: the most important thing you need to sort out to reveal those abs is your diet. In an article for Bodybuilding.com, LA-based pro fitness model Jamin Thompson calls your diet “responsible for about 90% of your results”.
Stack up on protein, healthy fats and post-workout carbs. Thompson describes protein as “the most valuable macronutrient of all, because your body burns a ton of calories breaking it down.”
Engage in regular cardiovascular exercise
While slashing your calorie intake is certainly the simplest and least strenuous route to weight loss, not adding regular exercise to the mix risks you hitting a plateau and potentially even losing muscle. Getting active regularly can help you to beat those plateaus and preserve your muscle mass.
You don’t need to be too fussy about exactly what this exercise is; walking, hiking, cycling or swimming can suffice, as long as you genuinely enjoy your chosen activity and do it regularly.
Don’t overlook abdominal and core exercises
As your body fat shrinks, your six-pack could start to show. However, it will show through a lot more easily if you remember to specifically engage your abs and core with your exercise regime. You need strengthening exercises – and Verywell Fit lists several you ought to especially consider.
Those include the plank, crunches, bicycle crunches and the vertical knee raise – though, for the last of those, you will need some gym equipment. You can’t quite do everything just at home!
Don’t neglect other aspects of strength training
You could too easily overlook how beneficial certain supposedly non-ab-focused strength training exercises can actually be for your abs. One good case in point would be using dumbbells, which Shape insists “aren’t just for bicep curls”.
In building muscle around the body rather than just in your midsection, you can help to boost your metabolism and reduce strain on your joints.
Make sure you get enough rest
Your ab muscles, like muscles elsewhere in your body, need a break from time to time. One good rule of thumb is to “try to take a recovery day between days you directly work your abs” – another tip quoted from Shape.
On your break days, you could shop for athletic gear in preparation for when you start working out again. If you will be visiting the gym with a significant other, for example, you could shop the His & Hers collection of tracksuits at Gym King.