How to Develop the Pecs and Abs in 4 months

Bodybuilder working out
A fit man with six pack abs is training in the gym. (Image: funduck/iStock/Getty Images)

Everyone has pectoral and abdominal muscles, it's just that for many, they aren't very developed or are hidden under fat -- or both. A double-pronged approach, addressing both muscle size and body fat, is necessary for a sculpted look. You might not be ready to pose shirtless on a fitness magazine in four months, but that's plenty of time to get a good start toward having well-defined abs and pecs.

Lose the Fat

Step 1

Take in fewer calories every day if your weight is typically stable. Since a pound is the equivalent of 3,500 calories, if you trim your caloric intake by 500 calories per day, you should lose a pound a week. Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables and cut your consumption of high-fat meats, simple carbohydrates and sugary or alcoholic beverages.

Step 2

Burn more calories a day than you typically do by adding a cardiovascular workout to your routine. As an example, if you weigh 160 pounds, a 30-minute jog will burn about 292 calories. Do it every day and your fat loss just from cardio is more than half a pound a week. More intense exercise or longer sessions obviously burn more calories, and heavier people burn more, while people who weigh less tend to burn fewer calories.

Step 3

Prevent bloating, which causes your stomach to puff out and hide your ab muscles as much as a layer of actual fat will. Eat plenty of potassium and fiber, and avoid carbonated beverages, starches and sugar substitutes. Avoid smoking, chewing gum, drinking through straws -- anything that causes you to "eat" air.

Build Muscle

Step 1

Do pushups. These help strengthen and develop your pectoral muscles, no equipment necessary. If you're just starting out, do modified pushups from your knees. If you want to add some oomph to the exercise, hold one leg out straight behind you.

Step 2

Lie on your back on a weight bench or a stability ball, holding a dumbbell in each hand. With your elbows bent and palms forward, hold the dumbbells at your armpits, keeping your wrists straight. Press straight up until your arms are straight, but without locking your elbows. Bring the dumbbells back to the starting position and do 10 to 12 repetitions in each of three sets. As the exercise gets easier, add weight to the dumbbells. The benefit of performing this on a stability ball is that balancing while doing the presses also works your abs.

Step 3

Do crunches. A study commissioned by the American Council on Exercise found that crunches performed on a stability ball work your muscles more than the regular ones on the floor, though those are effective, as well.

Step 4

Do the "bicycle maneuver." This involves lying in the floor with your hands up by your head. Bend your knees up so they're at about a 45-degree angle, and then "pedal" your feet as if you were riding a bike. As your right knee comes toward your head, reach toward it with your left elbow, then do the reverse for the left knee, always keeping your lower back pressed to the floor.

Things You'll Need

  • Adjustable-weight dumbbells

  • Bench or stability ball

Warning

Don't work your muscles every day; give them a day off between workouts to recover. If you need to strength-train every day to keep up your momentum, work your pecs one day and your abs the next.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
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