The Truth About How To Get A Six Pack

Getting the torso of your dreams in time for this summer is not as simple as just doing sit ups: but it is possible

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For something that should be so simple – eat less, do some crunches, get some abs – attaining a washboard stomach is still seen as the holy grail of men's fitness. Why do you think everyone still wants that Brad Pitt body?

But the uncomfortable fact is that it's not that simple - despite what endless internet clickbait articles will tell you. It is, however, possible - and to explain how we've enlisted the help of Esquire fitness expert Harry Jameson to cut through the guff and break down the key points to help you get a strong and balanced set of abs once and for all.

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Sit-ups won't give you abs

As Harry says: "The first mistake a lot of men make in regards to working their abs is to think that a few crunches at the end of a session is enough."

The sit-up - or crunch - only works the top half of your stomach, which means if you hammer away 1,000 of them then you're missing out on your obliques (the part that gives you the 'V' or 'Adonis Belt'), your lower abs and the transverse abdominis: a muscle that wraps around your spine and is vital for a strong core.

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But these exercises will

To begin with, forget about a six pack - we'll tackle that later - what you really want to be focusing on is building a strong, balanced core. This means engaging all the abdominal muscles and working them equally.

Harry suggests doing two of the following, twice a week after a strength workout. Make sure you mix them up to keep everything balanced:

Lower body Russian twist (above), great for lower abs and obliques.

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Hanging leg raises - slightly more advanced, but a punishing exercise that works your whole core.

On top of that, if you can work your way up to a three minute plank, then you'll definitely have a strong, well-rounded core.

Or, if you're feeling really brave, throw the following ab workout into your routine:

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Do the right type of cardio

Unfortunately you're going to have to lace up your running shoes if you really want to see those abs. Harry recommends fasted cardio in the mornings, 2-3 times a week to compliment your regular gym and strength work. This doesn't have to be high intensity, just a moderate pace for 30-40 minutes to kickstart your metabolism for the day.

If the idea of running on an empty stomach makes your stomach turn, a small amount of protein like scrambled eggs is fine. And add caffeine like green tea or a double espresso to really hone in on your body's fat burning potential. 

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Incorporate abs into your strength workout

Take the opportunity to target your abs in your regular work out, as well as your specific core session. 

Methods like replacing the typical gym bench with a swiss ball for a chest press (above), and doing free weights standing on one leg are a simple way of engaging your core while still focusing on your day to day training.

Other examples are the pull-up - the ultimate bodyweight exercise - and press-up variations like the dramatically-named spiderman push-up (below).

Body fat is the key

The real results of your six pack will start to show when your body fat percentage gets down to about 15%. To put this into context, David Beckham hovers at around 12%, while someone like James Corden - sorry James - is up at about 30%.

If your training and cardio methods are up to speed, you're going to need to be on about a 500 calorie deficit a day. This can - obviously - be done by either burning 500 more, or eating 500 less. Harry recommends a mixture of the two for a balanced approach to losing the love handles, with the all classics like cutting out carbs in the evenings and eating plenty of fresh vegetables and lean protein an essential part of your routine.

As Harry says: "If you take this approach, you should still be able to enjoy a few weekend beers with your mates."

Which, as nice as a six pack looks, is what we all want really, isn't it?