How to Get 6-Pack Abs in 12 Weeks

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A good diet is a big part in getting abs.
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Diligent dieting and regular workouts are necessary to achieve a 12-week core strength program that results in six-pack abs. Your ability to attain this goal depends on your current physique, fitness level, genetics and commitment to lowering your body fat level to showcase your abs.

Read more: Should I Be Able to Feel Fat Around My Stomach When Sitting?

Achieving Six-Pack Abs

Models featured on fitness magazine covers and in supplement ads often display an unattainable standard of fitness, and furthermore, they are often airbrushed to six-pack perfection. But for those who want to pursue gaining such six-pack abs in a mere 12 weeks, you need to follow a strict diet and perform intensive core work five days a week.

You should remain cognizant of the fact for the next 12 weeks that not everyone contains the genetics to ascertain enviable abs. According to Harvard Health Publishing, to sculpt this part of the body, you need to strengthen the trunk muscles, more commonly known as the "core" — the abs, lower back and pelvis. To begin your workouts, you should start with a 5-minute warm-up doing a low-intensity cardio exercise that uses core muscles, such as walking or jogging.

To achieve the "I want six-pack abs by week 12" results, you should follow these recommended movements from Harvard Health Publishing and the American Council on Exercise (ACE) at least five days a week and follow Harvard Health Publishing's cardio suggestions below:

Move 1: Bicycle

  1. Lie face up on the floor.

  2. Place your fingertips on the back of your head.

  3. Engage your ab muscles and bring your knees to a 45-degree angle.

  4. Lift your shoulder blades off the floor.

  5. Turn your upper body to the left and bring your right elbow to your left knee as you extend your right leg.

  6. Switch sides.

  7. Continue alternating sides for 12 to 20 reps at a quick pace. Don't slow down.

  8. Complete three sets of 12 to 20 reps.

Tip

Don’t pull on your neck. Let your abs do the work.

Move 2: Reverse Crunch

  1. Lie face up on the floor with your hands at your sides and palms facing down.
  2. Bend your knees and raise your legs to a 90-degree angle.
  3. Engage your abs and raise your hips so that your glutes come all the way off the floor.
  4. Hold the top position for one second.
  5. Lower your hips back to starting position.
  6. Repeat for three sets of 12 to 15 reps.

Move 3: Arm and Leg Raise

  1. Lie face down on the floor with your arms stretched out straight above your head.
  2. Engage your abs and lift your right arm and left leg off the floor.
  3. Hold for five seconds.
  4. Lower down.
  5. Switch sides.
  6. Repeat for three sets of 12 to 15 reps.

Move 4: Plank

  1. Lie face down on the floor with your elbows at your sides under your shoulders. Keep your palms facing down.
  2. Engage your abs and quads.
  3. Slowly lift your entire torso off the floor, keeping your body stiff to avoid shrugging your shoulders or arching your lower back.
  4. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
  5. Slowly lower down to the floor.
  6. Repeat for three sets of 3 reps.

Tip

To make this move more challenging, try shifting your weight to the right side of your body and moving your left arm off the ground. Keep your hips level. Switch sides.

Move 5: Glute Bridge

  1. Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent.
  2. Move your feet hip-width apart with toes facing straight ahead.
  3. Engage your abs, press your heels into the floor and raise your glutes and lower back off the floor.
  4. Hold the top position for one second.
  5. Lower yourself to starting position.
  6. Complete three sets of 12 to 15 reps.

Tip

To make this move more challenging, ACE suggests extending one leg while in the raised position.

Your workout isn't done. You also need to amp up your aerobic exercise to get six-pack abs in 12 weeks. Harvard Health Publishing says that you should complete regular moderate-intensity aerobic exercise 30 minutes per day. Cardio such as walking, swimming and running will engage your abs and work them out further than what you'll do in a core workout.

You should also conduct 20 to 30 minutes of a full-body strength training session two to three times a week.To work your core as often as possible, when sitting, standing or lying down, tighten your ab muscles by drawing in the navel toward your back for 10 seconds at a time, suggests Harvard Health Publishing.

Read more: The Best Beginner Workouts if You're New to Exercise (or It's Been a While)

Dietary Needs for Strong Abs

According to Harvard Health Publishing, spot exercising ab muscles doesn't get rid of the fat hiding your abs. You must burn more calories than you consume and eat a healthy diet. To achieve six-pack abs in 12 weeks, you will most likely need to overhaul what you eat.

To shred your core and lower your belly fat, you should follow these five dietary recommendations for the next 12 weeks (or 10 weeks for the 10-week ab challenge overachievers):

  • Curb carbs and not fats. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, when researchers compared a low-carb diet with a low-fat diet, the low-carb diet produced higher quality weight loss. In addition, eating a low-carb diet naturally shifts your diet toward high-fiber and high-protein foods such as vegetables, beans and healthy meats that lower belly fat and showcase your abs.

  • Scrutinize all labels and spend your time at the grocery store. John Hopkins Medicine says that you need to compare and contrast brands. For example, yogurt can contain high carbs and sugars even though it's high in protein content. (Yogurt can help lower belly fat, so don't discount the food altogether.)

  • Ditch all packaged and snack foods. They have added sugar, salt and sodium that can leave you bloated. This will cause the opposite effect you desire when trying to reveal your abs, says John Hopkins Medicine.

  • Eliminate sugary drinks, including fruit juices. According to Rush University Medical Center, juicing fruits removes fiber and leaves pure sugar. Sugar increases belly fat and fiber reduces it.

  • Replace sweets with fruit. If you need to end your meals on a sweet note, Rush University Medical Center suggests eating an apple or fresh berries. But you do need to fill up your plate with vegetables for its fiber content. Fruit is not a substitute for your veggies.

Read more: How to Get a Slim Waist With a Square Body Shape

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