Mind & Body

6 Secrets for Six Pack Abs

TIMEApril 6, 2016

Most of you already have a six pack abdominal wall. The problem is that it is covered up with a few inches of fat that lies on top of your muscle, underneath your skin. 

The issue is not so much to build up your abs, but to bring your overall body fat level down. 

When you do this with a well rounded healthy lifestyle, you will be able to see the shape and form of your core muscles. 

Lower Your Overall Body Fat Percentage

In order to start to see some definition in your abs, men need to get below 10 percent fat, and ladies typically need to get below 13 percent. These are general markers and individuals may vary slightly.

 (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Two sets of 2 or 3 different exercises is sufficient. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Exercise Your Abs Effectively

The main thing I have learned about training my abs is that less is more. Two sets of 2 or 3 different exercises is sufficient. 

Most people over train their abs with quantity. Many believe 100 sit ups is better than 10 crunches, for example. Because more is better, right? 

Wrong! Doing more of something that is ineffective will not provide you with better results.

Two keys to making “less” more effective are:

  1. Make sure to go slow. A 3-second positive and a 3-second negative works great. 
  2. Make sure to use a smaller range of motion than you normally would. Why? For the same reason that a crunch is more effective than a sit up. It keeps the tension more focused on your ab muscles, so they never get to relax. This increases the effectiveness of the exercise. 


Perform Interval Cardio 

Interval cardio is five to nine 60-90 second challenges separated by walking recovery.

Twenty minutes of interval cardio, preferably done in the morning, actually burns more body fat than 60 minutes of jogging or low intensity long duration cardio. 

When you do it first thing in the morning, you “get it done”. Too many things tend to pop up during the day to postpone or cancel a cardio session planned for midday or evening, so try to get into the habit of exercising in the morning.

Fat Loss Nutrition

Most people do best when eating every 3-4 hours. Combine protein and non starchy carbs (veggies, green beans, salads, apples) together at every meal.

Cycle in a small amount of starchy carbs (such as oatmeal, brown and wild rice, yams, sweet and red potato, or whole wheat pasta) on resistance training days only.



You can rev up your metabolism by eating every 3 hours (higher hunger levels mean higher metabolism), doing resistance training for an hour 2-3 times per week, doing interval cardio in the morning 2-3 times per week, and by making other healthy lifestyle choices like not using alcohol, tobacco, or drugs, and by going to bed early and waking up early.

Goal Setting

For optimal success, you must have a precise fitness goal. Few people will accomplish anything without sufficient pressure. So draw the line in the sand and set out to do something by a precise date. 

If you really want to jam, pick a very lofty (high) goal. If you shoot for the stars and fall slightly short, you are still high in the sky! 

Write your goal down. Read it out loud with a positive tone in your voice every day. Once before bed, and immediately when you wake up.

Write the goal down as though you have already achieved it, because your subconscious does not know the difference between the truth or a fib. That’s why you will wake up with your heart pounding and sweating during a nightmare. So use this to your advantage. 

See it and feel it, like you have already accomplished the goal. Faith it till you make it! 

Another big key is to attach “your emotional reasons” to accomplishing the goal.

Social Support

You will turn into those you spend the most time with. Try to be around are health conscious individuals. If you are forced to be around family or friends who do not support your healthy lifestyle, then make sure you announce to them your intentions and ask them for help.

If they continue to sabotage you, then you may simply have to spend much less time with them in order to reach your goals.  

The power of this information and the techniques that my clients and I have used to be in the best shape of our lives in our 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s lies in the simplicity. When you think something is simple you will act. 

The key is the action, reassessing, and never giving up. (studio1901/iStock)

The key is the action, reassessing, and never giving up.

Remember, you do have the power to change! 

Dr. Joseph Mercola is the founder of Mercola.com. An osteopathic physician, best-selling author, and recipient of multiple awards in the field of natural health, his primary vision is to change the modern health paradigm by providing people with a valuable resource to help them take control of their health.