• Today’s question: What do you do if you’re wanting to really make your abs pop?
  • It’s often a fine balance — you want to stay lean but retain muscle, but no matter how hard you work in the gym you can’t seem to get that ripped and cut look that screams “washboard stomach”.
  • The starting point is probably to be a bit realistic. Some people are genetically blessed to be able to achieve this look without much effort — they’re freaks. When you’re looking at fitness models on the cover of Men’s Health, these are professionals who have been working towards achieving a certain look for that photo shoot — it’s not something that they’re going to be able to maintain once the photo shoot is done. Of course there’s also people juiced up on a cocktail of steroids — you should not be attracted to the short term gains that these people are making, remember the long-term damage that they are doing to their bodies.
  • So you need to set goals that are realistic for you. Measure yourself against these personal and realistic goals — not a digitally enhanced photo of a model that you’ve seen in a magazine.
  • If you’re wanting to change the way that your abs look, the obvious place to start is the gym. Don’t waste your time doing sit-ups. Sit-ups are effective for showing everyone how amazing your abs are — they won’t actually help you get amazing abs. Any general weight-based resistance training programme will be sufficiently working your core strength in order to ensure that your abs are sufficiently developed. Add in some interval or circuit-based training and you’ll be providing your body with a sufficient cardio workout to help drop any excess weight (you need to be lean in order for your abs to be prominently visible).
  • Diet is really the key — if having ripped abs is your goal then you need to find a diet that works for you, but it has to help you to get and stay lean. In general, a high protein/low carb diet seems to be the most effective way to do this (when combined with the right resistance training programme). Small meals 4–5 times per day, throw in a cheat meal (ie. rice or rice noodles) every now and then to shock your body to better results. Avoid processed carbohydrates or anything high in gluten. Also avoid sugars or anything that’s going to spike your insulin (like Milk, Yoghurt or Fruit Juice). If you want to eat fruit go for berries post-training (good anti-oxidants and post-training your body will welcome the sugar rush).
  • The other thing that can potentially play apart is Cortisol levels. High levels of Cortisol has been shown to contribute to the body bloating around the stomach. The general view is that stress and artificial stimulants are likely to spike your Cortisol levels. So avoiding coffee can help here.
  • If you get your diet and exercise regime right you’ll ensure that you have a solid base to achieve your goals. However if you’re preparing for a photo shoot, a big party or a romantic mini-break with someone your keen to impress, then you could also add in some supplements to make sure that you make the best impression possible.
  • A combination that I’ve found effective is a rotation (1 week on each) of the following troika:
  • - Yohimbine (thermogenic to help get lean)
    - Holy Basil (helps manage Cortisol levels)
    - Tribulus (thermogenic to help get lean)
  • Looking for some high protein snacks to keep you going between meals? Try the following: Protein Shake; Bounce Almond Protein Ball; Handful of Nuts; Chicken salad (that you’ve made at home); Hummus with veg.
  • Having ripped, defined abs is a difficult look to achieve but even more difficult to maintain. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, but it’s nice to know that you can do it if you want to.