No matter what your weight is right now, you have the power to change your fitness level and your body. Becky Griggs, now an Oregon City fitness trainer, is just one success story of a formerly obese person who lost more than 200 pounds and achieved the awesome look of six-pack abs. A commitment of time and energy as well as the willingness to change your diet and lifestyle are what it takes.
Time and Energy Commitment
Whether you have been obese or not, you’ll need a high level of fitness, including a low percentage of body fat to muscle, to achieve six-pack abs. This means whole-body strength training and regular cardio in addition to abdominal exercise with weights. You’ll need at least 30 minutes or more for five days each week of cardio to meet and exceed the recommended amount for minimum health. Plan on at least four days of strength training lasting 45 minutes to one hour for your chest, arms, legs and back. Add 30 minutes of focused abdominal exercise three times each week. If you have travel time to and from the gym of about 15 minutes each way, this all adds up to about 10 hours of your time each week.
Specific Six-Pack Exercises
The six-pack ab look requires building muscle on the stomach with exercises using weight that works all of the four ab muscle groups. Twists with a bar -- used by Arnold Schwarzenegger to develop his fantastic obliques during his professional bodybuilding career -- strengthen the sides, lower waist and deep stomach muscles. Start with two sets of 20 repetitions to each side, and build up to three sets of 30. Rest one to three minutes between sets. To build more muscle, increase the weight of the bar as your fitness level improves. For all weightlifting and abdominal exercises, remain at the same amount of repetitions and weight for at least a month before increasing intensity.
Exercise for the Front
To strengthen the front upper, lower and middle stomach muscles, use double crunches without weights for beginners. This exercise adds a bent leg lift to a basic crunch. When you are ready to increase intensity, switch to lying triceps extensions with leg lifts. Lie on a mat holding a barbell in both hands above your head. Use enough weight to provide resistance but not cause complete muscle fatigue after 15 repetitions. Lift the weight straight up toward the ceiling while lifting your legs up. You can bend your legs if keeping them straight is too difficult. Lower your legs and arms back to the starting position for one repetition. Start with two sets of 15 repetitions, and build up to three sets of 25.
Improving Loose Skin
If you were obese and have lost significant weight, you may have loose skin that can be difficult to tighten, depending on how obese you were, your age and other factors that influence skin elasticity. Working toward a goal of achieving six-pack abs and a muscular body is a healthy, smart strategy for anyone who has been obese and now has loose skin. Strong stomach muscles hold the stomach in, and some of the slack from loose skin will be taken up when it’s stretched over bigger muscles.
Keep in mind that professional bodybuilders work for years to achieve their muscular physiques. If you stick to an effective workout and healthy diet, you will achieve gradual but visible improvement over time. To reach your goal of six-pack abs, you must persevere and get back on track if there are times when you skip workouts or don’t stick to your diet. Keeping your ultimate goal in mind while having the realistic expectation that this will take a long time can keep you going for the time it takes to get there.