Achieving a six pack takes work, sacrifice and dedication. Couple this with the fact that you want to build your pecs, and you'll need to increase your effort even more. That doesn't mean you can't pull it off, though. You just have to follow the right game plan.
Not only do you have to exercise, but you have to be strategic about it. You also have to make dietary adjustments and become more active in general. If you're ready to commit, here's your step-by-step guide.
Step 1: Clean Up Your Diet
Consume foods that are high in nutrients and low in empty calories. Give up the chocolate chip cookies, bagels with cream cheese, muffins and frozen dinners. Load up on fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats. If you also want to lose weight, you'll need to reduce your caloric intake by 250 to 500 calories a day.
Step 2: Add HIIT to Your Cardio
If you're not doing cardio already, you should start. Do any type of cardio that you enjoy, such as running, indoor cycling, swimming, elliptical training, step aerobics, power walking or kickboxing. But don't overdo it. Aim for 30 minutes three days a week, alternating with the days you strength train.
To take your fat burning to the next level, add high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to your routine. That means alternating between periods of all-out effort (ex. sprinting) with recovery periods (ex. walking).
Step 3: Target Your Chest With Strength Training
Lift weights to build your pecs (aka your pectoral muscles). Target all areas of your chest to ensure you achieve full muscle development with exercises like:
- Incline press
- Flat bench press
- Decline press
- Dumbbell flies
Aim for 10 to 12 reps and four to five sets for each exercise, using the heaviest weights you can handle. And if you've mastered the regular versions of these exercises, try adding a stability ball to any of these exercises (except the decline press), which requires you to contract your abs to remain stable. Just make sure you have a spotter on hand to assist you with your lifts.
Read more: Top 5 Pectoral Exercises
Step 4: Focus on Your Core, Not Just Your Abs
Choose ab exercises that involve your entire core. Don't just work the front part of your abs (aka rectus abdominis or six-pack muscles). Target your lower abs, upper abs and obliques with exercises like:
- Leg raises
- Scissor kicks
- Russian twists
- Bicycle crunches
- Decline crunches
- Stability ball sit-ups
Perform 20 to 25 reps of each for three to four sets, and do them after you work your pecs.
Once you're ready to progress, add resistance to some of your ab exercises to ensure you fully tax your muscles. Use a resistance band when doing bicycle crunches or mountain climbers. Or hold a dumbbell against your chest or straight above you when doing exercises like decline crunches and stability ball sit-ups.
Read more: The 41 Hardest Ab Exercises
Use proper form with your chest and ab exercises. Don't rely on momentum, exercise with a full range of motion and contract your muscles forcefully at the midpoint of the movements.
When strength training, inhale deeply as you exert energy and exhale when returning to the starting position of the exercise.