The simple step-by-step process to gaining and maintaining six pack abs is as follows:
- Do Crunches. Lie on the floor (with or without a mat) and cross your arms in front of your chest. Bend your knees up as far as they go. (Do not place both hands behind your head. Placing both hands behind your head can cause lower back problems in the long run as it places unnecessary stress on that part of your body from pulling on your head and neck.) Another alternative is to cross your arms in front of your chest and lightly place your finger tips behind your ears, without pulling on your neck or ears to help raise you off the floor. Draw in your abdomen towards your spine while inhaling through your nose. Now raise your shoulders (upper torso) towards your knees, using strictly your abdominal muscles. It is very important not to lift your entire back off the floor, as this can cause back strain, and the extended movement does not help you develop six pack abs any faster. The most important part of the crunch is the initial flexing of your abs as you lift your shoulders off of the floor. As soon as you begin lifting off the floor exhale through your mouth, ending with a gasp once your shoulders are off the floor. Then pause for a second once you are at the top of the crunch and exhale the last bit of air from your diaphragm while flexing your abs. The proper breathing and flexing make all the difference. Now lower back down slowly and controlled while inhaling through your nose, just until your shoulder blades touch the ground. Do not let your head touch the ground and repeat.
- Do Sit Ups. Lie on the floor, feet on the floor, knees up and fingers placed behind your ears or hands crossed on your chest. Sit all the way up, lifting your lower back off the floor along with your shoulder blades.Lower yourself down. Repeat. Once this becomes relatively easy for you (i.e. you can do a quite a bit with ease) start adding more challenges. Find an incline bench or do these on an exercise ball. Once you "graduate" from that, do weighted sit ups. Hold a weight on your chest while you do these. As these become easier, hold heavier and heavier weights. You might also try lifting your feet off the ground while doing the sit ups or alternating the leg in the air, like pretending to pedal while sitting up. If your hands are behind your head, bring your left knee up to touch your right elbow and then your right knee to the left elbow.
- Do Leg Lifts. Lie on the floor, legs straight out, hands at your sides. Lift your legs straight up (not bending your knees at all) until they're at a 90 degree angle (or close). Lower your legs and repeat without letting your legs touch the floor. For more challenge there is equipment at most gyms that will allow you to raise yourself up using your arms as support and dangle your legs. You can perform leg lifts there too. If you're using this piece of equipment, you can make it easier by just raising your knees to your chest. It's more difficult to raise your legs to a horizontal position with your legs straight. This helps firm up the lower abdomen. If you're truly a monster, try doing leg lifts with a medicine ball hanging from your feet. Or hang from a pull up bar and raise your legs in front of you all the way up to the bar. Still too easy?...
- Sit Ups. Lie down flat on the floor. Place your hands on the ground to your sides for balance; you can pick them up as you get used to the movement. Simultaneously raise your knees and torso so that your knees and face meet on an imaginary line extending from your pelvis to the ceiling. You should be able to kiss your knees at the top of the motion. Your legs will naturally fold bringing your feet towards your hips, much like a jackknife. Lie back down (i.e. "spread out") and repeat. Place a weight between your feet when you think you can handle it. What's that? More?
- Do V-ups. Lie on the floor, legs straight out, hands on the floor but this time extended out over your head. Simultaneously raise legs and torso. Don't bend your knees! What kind of V would it be if you bend your knees? Reach with your hands toward the raised feet. Touch your feet if possible (will require some flexibility). Relax, return to starting position and repeat. Add weight between feet to match your taste.
- Know that since it is, literally, the center of your body there are many other tricks you can use to train your abs, and some of the other movements will more or less involve your abs. Including every abdominal exercise in existence would make this article painfully long and new methods are being developed constantly. Now that you've made up your mind about a washboard mid-section, get creative! Find new ways to crunch, bend and twist in your daily life. Some possibilities include:
- Duck and twist during your daily routine. Reach with your left hand to things on your right and vice versa. If you feel like turning around to face something, see if you can do it with keeping your hips in place and twisting at the waist (warning: awkward when talking to other people, use only against inanimate objects). While walking or standing, pretend that something is coming toward you and you have to duck to get out of the way. Do this as often as you are comfortable or at times when it won't look weird. You can bend forward from the hips or, if you're really into it, bend at the knees too and really "sink" out of the way. Caution: If you have lower back problems, you could injure yourself.
- Do the Scientific Best Abs Exercise Researchers at the San Diego State University, found that there are certain abs exercises that triggers most muscular activity. The winner was the "bicycle maneuver":
- Lie on the floor; make sure your lower back is pressed on the ground.
- Take your hands behind your ears. Then bring up your knees at a 45 degree angle.
- Start doing a bicycle pedaling motion. Touch your elbow with the opposite knee (right elbow with left knee and so on, alternating)
- Breathe relaxed and evenly throughout the whole exercise.
- Lift Weights. The more muscle your body has, the more calories your body burns, even at rest. Many people are afraid of getting huge due to weight lifting but the fact is you won't!, Many huge body-builders out there have been body-building for years to get huge. If you just do cardiovascular exercises without lifting weights then you will lose the muscle mass, you will also feel weak and it will take longer to lose that fat. So, to get rid of that fat quickly lift weights combined with cardiovascular exercises. Running, biking, swimming, stair climbing, jumping rope, tennis, volleyball, dancing, squash or any other activity that gets you moving and keeps you moving is a great way to burn fat. However, a cardiovascular workout should be performed for at least 20 to 30 minutes to burn fat. Prior to this your body will simply run on its stored energy, which results in minimal fat loss. Cardiovascular training should always be done after your weight lifting workout. While lifting weights, you use stored, (carbohydrate) energy, thus, by performing cardiovascular exercises after weight training your body will have less stored energy to use and go straight into the fat storage for its energy use. The overall best way to shed fat fast is to do cardiovascular exercises right when you wake up. Your body will search for energy to use, and when it finds nothing in your stomach, it will go directly to your fat reserves for energy.
- Keep Metabolism Steady. Eating one small meal (such as a potato, a salad, etc.) every three hours that you are awake will not speed up your metabolism, rather, it will keep it going. Your metabolism goes and slows with your food intake and eating something small every three hours will keep that metabolism burning calories and will help you lose weight. A jar of nuts in the office will do just fine, grab a handful when you feel like it. Most fruits can last for a couple days without refrigeration, and if you have a refrigerator at the office, make use of it.
- Eat Smaller Dinners. Cut down on the size of your dinner. If you're hungry, snack on fruits or other healthy, low calorie snacks. Large dinners tend to hurt a fat loss process because most people aren't very active after dinner. This is the basis for advice along the lines of "don't eat anything within N hours before going to bed". The claim that your entire dinner is stored as fat isn't entirely true (the process is more complicated than that) but the fact you don't move after dinner is enough to hurt your cause. You can offset this by eating a larger lunch or snacking healthily before dinner. Fresh fruits or vegetables are excellent choices for curbing appetite not to mention other health benefits. A handful of nuts might do the same. Drink a large glass of water before sitting at the table.
- Eat More Fiber. Most people don't get enough fiber. The recommended amount is actually not that much if you eat a healthy diet. "Fiber foods" include whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and nuts and seeds. Other options are fiber supplements.
- Eat Breakfast. Many people skip breakfast because they don't have time for it. Keep this in mind: You don't have time to skip breakfast, it's simply too valuable to skip. The fact that skipping breakfast messes up your concentration and other mental functions is beyond the scope of this article. The harm of skipping breakfast from a weight loss perspective is it makes you eat a huge lunch since your body hasn't had anything in the past 12 (or more) hours. When you eat a huge lunch you get that after meal drowsiness so now you're both unproductive and inactive. Cereals don't take much time to prepare and consume, and most of them are very healthy nowadays. If you are extremely pressed for time, consider grabbing a box of breakfast bars or a smoothie and throwing one in your bag when you leave for work or school. Some breakfast bars out there are also excellent sources of fiber.
- Drink More Water Every Day. Many places suggest 8 cups (2L) of water a day. It also depends on your weight (1L/20kg would be good, more if it's hot or you're ill). It sounds like an absurd amount of water, but actually, you can drink tea without sugar to make up some of the quota. In fact tea, especially green tea, rev up your "metabolism" (actually cause a temporary increase in calories burned).
For fat loss purposes, it is important to remind yourself that thirst is a much weaker stimuli than hunger. If you consistently feel hungry after meals, don't immediately think that you need to eat more. You may simply be thirsty!
Needless to say there are many benefits of water. The human body is anywhere from 55% to 78% water depending on body size.