We may be as far from beach season as we could possibly get, but that doesn’t mean that you should let your fitness levels slide. Chunky jumpers and thick winter coats may disguise a deteriorating physique, but beneath those layers you should still be aiming for enviable abs.
But how can you keep on top of exercising your abs without going to the gym? Lloyd Bridger, personal trainer and co-founder of LDN Muscle, a service helping transform the lives and bodies of thousands of men worldwide, tells Gentleman’s Journal how you can build a solid six-pack without joining a gym.
Watch your diet
“You’ve probably heard the expression ‘abs are made in the kitchen’,” says Bridger, “ and this is actually one of the few fitness quotes that is true.
“Having visible abs is almost solely down to your overall level of body fat, and the biggest influence on this is your diet. To lose fat and get lean, you need to be eating fewer calories than you are burning each day, forcing your body to burn stored body fat for energy.
“Aim to eat 300-400 calories less – on average – that you are using each day as a starting point.”
Don’t overdo the cardio
“High intensity interval training, better known as HIIT cardio, has become very fashionable in the past few years,” continues the personal trainer, “with some coaches advocating you do this or another form of cardio every day of the week.
“If you want to lose weight and keep it off, this isn’t the way to go about doing so. It is unrealistic to train every day and can quickly lead to burn out or injury.
“Instead, start with 2-3 cardio sessions each week and, when your rate of fat loss slows, you can start introducing further sessions to your schedule.”
Invest in some weights
“We’ve all got a friend who doesn’t work out and still has abs, but compare their abs to an athlete like Michael Phelps or Cristiano Ronaldo,” laughs Bridger. “An athlete has deeper, more defined abs because they have built muscle around their abs and core, as well as having a low overall body fat.
“So,” he continues, “to build muscle, you need to put the body under enough stress to make it adapt and, after 4-6 weeks of resistance training, bodyweight alone is usually not enough.
“At this point, invest in a set of adjustable dumbbells that go up to around 20kg each. Of course, if you want a top notch home gym, also invest in an Olympic bar, squat rack and adjustable bench – with this set up you can effectively hit every muscle group!”
Not just crunches
“Doing endless crunches will only lead to a strained neck – not a chiselled midriff,” advises Bridger.
“Compound or multi-joint exercise such as squats, deadlifts and even bench presses will engage your core and build more muscle here than unweighted ab exercises.
“Try doing two weighted full body workouts each week and include one weighted ab exercise such as weighted crunches – try three sets of 12 reps – and one unweighted ab exercise such as bicycle crunches – try three sets of 20 reps – in both workouts, you will soon start to create deep, defined abs.”
“Tabata is a quick and effective form of cardio when you are pressed for time,” finishes the personal trainer. “Only taking four minutes per round, it is a killer workout and burns a high amount of calories both during and after the workout.
“You perform 20 seconds of your chosen exercise at 100 per cent effort and then rest for 10 seconds, repeating this 8 times. This is one round. You can perform up to 3 rounds in a workout, although we advise starting at the lower end of reps!
“It works equally well for cardio such as running or cycling as it does for bodyweight exercises such as burpees or mountain climbers – so give it a go next time you think you don’t have time to work out and this will get you on the way to creating a solid six pack.”
For more health and fitness advice or to download one of the LDNM Guides visit www.ldnmuscle.com