There’s nothing that says fit and ripped like an 8-pack. While it’s not an easy goal to strive for, it is possible – and armed with these 8 principles for getting an 8-pack, you could get the lean and mean body of your dreams.
1. It all starts with a diet
Getting a 6-pack requires low body fat: but getting an 8-pack requires seriously low body fat. While the exact body fat percentage required will vary with your genetics and fat distribution, it’s a safe-bet that you’ll need to hit single digits. There’s only one way to achieve that: by dieting.
Getting your body fat percentage below 10% is going to be a challenge, and you’ll need to take complete control of your diet and nutrition. Weight loss needs to be steady and consistent, and you’ll need to continue on a calorie-controlled diet to enjoy your 8-pack for as long as possible.
Aiming for 2lbs of fat loss per week will allow you to hit your goals in a relatively short space of time, whilst maintaining as much muscle mass as possible. Despite the dozens of internet adverts that suggest ‘one weird trick’ to get an 8-pack overnight, it just isn’t possible – and your quest for a ripped midsection starts with a diet.
2. Ditch bodyweight, and do weighted ab exercises
Dieting is the most important factor in getting a defined 8-pack; but building up the size of your abdominal muscles will also make a huge contribution. Bodyweight exercises, like sit-ups and crunches, are a great form of cardio – but they do jack for muscular development.
To build up your abdominal muscles, you need to apply the same principles as you would for any other muscle, and use weighted resistance to trigger muscle growth. Ditch the bodyweight exercises, and try performing weighted sit-ups and cable crunches.
We aren’t trying to build a huge, muscular gut – just improve the size and definition of our abdominals – so it’s important to avoid super heavy weights and low reps. Aim for 8-10 rep sets, and increase the weight gradually.
3. Boost your protein intake
Building abdominal muscle and losing body fat are two pretty contradictory goals, and trying to achieve both at the same time can be a challenge. To maximize your chances of developing an 8-pack, it’s vital that you increase your protein intake.
High-protein diets improve muscle gain, and limit the muscle-destroying effects of dieting and exercise. Protein is also highly satiating, meaning that you’ll feel fuller after a high-protein meal. In order to keep your calories under control, it’s a good idea to opt for fish and lean meats (like tuna, chicken and turkey) – and investing in a low-calories protein shake will make your goal much more achievable.
4. Don’t shy away from squats and deadlifts
The squat and deadlift are two of the best ab exercises going. Both require a rock-solid core, and both push your abdominal muscles to their limit – making them a valuable tool in any fitness fanatic’s arsenal.
The heavy weight used in both exercises is perfect for helping you to develop control of your abdominal muscles; and the indirect nature of the exercises allow you to improve ab development without packing on a ton of unsightly size.
5. Try wearing a weightlifting belt
I’ve seen guys wearing weightlifting belts them for all manner of exercises, from curls to calf raises, in the belief that they’re protecting their lower back. I’ve even see people wear them for an entire session, strutting around the gym as though they’re the latest addition to WWE’s hall of fame.
Aside from looking like an idiot, these people aren’t getting any benefit from the belt – because it’s not designed to support the lower back. It’s designed to raise intra-abdominal pressure.
By tensing your abs against the inside of the belt, you raise the intramuscular pressure of your abdominal muscles. This creates a safer, more stable core – allowing you to squat, press and deadlift greater weight, and improving muscular control of the abs.
Both of these factors will contribute to your 8-pack, helping you to develop a strong, tightly-controlled midsection.
6. Invest in a decent vitamin supplement
Cutting down to super-low levels of body fat is extremely taxing on the body, and maintaining it for long periods of time can be damaging to your health. To minimize the negative impact of your 8-pack, you need to make sure that your diet is rich in essential vitamins and minerals.
Obviously, a diet consisting largely of plain rice and chicken breast can make this a challenge – so buying a high-quality vitamin supplement is advised. It’s not worth cheaping-out and buying a dollar-store tub of multivitamins, because it won’t contain everything your body needs.
Look for a supplement from a dedicated fitness store, and find one with as many essential vitamins and minerals as possible.
7. Work towards a deadline
An 8-pack is the holy grail of aesthetics, and a true testament to your dedication and commitment to fitness. It’s a real challenge for even the most experienced of athletes, and as a result, you’ll need all the motivation you can find.
Working towards a deadline is a fantastic way to motivate yourself into action. Aiming for a particular goal, be it a holiday, beach trip or toga party, will give you a definite end-point to work towards.
As the big day approaches, you’ll be able to push yourself harder and harder, safe in the knowledge that you’re almost done. However, it’s important that your deadline is achievable – and setting yourself a goal of 10lbs of fat loss in 2 weeks will do nothing but de-motivate you.
8. Aim for an 8-pack all-year-round
These 8 tips will make your 8-pack a completely achievable goal – and by following the advice we’ve laid-out, you should be well on your way to the ripped and cut body of your dreams.
Once you’ve hit the hallowed 8-pack, try and keep it all-year round. It’s much easier to maintain a low bodyweight than it is to constantly bulk and cut – so make your abs an all-year goal, and rock a ripped physique every damn day!
See you next time, bros.
Alex Nerney – Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Nutrition Specialist
Follow Alex on Twitter —> Follow @AlexNerney
College Guy’s, Check out my book A College Guy’s Guide to Getting Ripped
[Image via ShutterStock]