This is definitely one of the most asked questions at Superhero Jacked.
We’ve actually been taking care of a lot of those questions the past few weeks.
The past couple weeks I’ve written an Official SHJ Guide for Intermittent Fasting, and then even covered a long asked question on How to get better at Pull-ups, Pushups, Dips, Squats and Calisthenics.
Now we get to talk about another topic on everyone’s minds: The Secret to a Flat Stomach and Six Pack Abs.
If that wasn’t already obvious…
I mean c’mon, we know so many people get into fitness trying to achieve this, right?
How many commercials have you seen promising people six pack abs by doing this, or that?
And how many have you truly believed?
Well, they got me a few times, I’ll admit it. When you’re promised abs in 7 minutes, sometimes it can sound pretty intriguing. And they make these things like ab coasters look so damn easy…
But, it’s important to understand the truth, and utilize the secret to a getting a flat stomach, and uncovering those hidden abs.
I’m going to fill you in on a secret right away: you already have abs – they’re just hiding!
The First Secret to a Flat Stomach and Six Pack Abs: You Have Them Already
No, okay, I’m just kidding – you don’t have to do that.
The first secret is that you already have abs…
“Excuse me Mike from Superhero Jacked, but you got the wrong person….”, might be what you’re saying right now…
But, hear me out for a second. I’m about to blow your mind. Well, maybe I’m not, but I”m going to try…and hopefully it’ll even be motivating.
Check this out for a second:
I have a six pack in both pictures…
Unfortunately my huge gut in the first picture is hiding it!
Once I began focusing on the right things (which we’ll discuss), I was able to uncover the hidden abs.
So what am I actually telling you right now?
I’m telling you that everyone has abdominal muscles, they’re just generally hidden under a layer of fat. In order to see them, we’re going to need to get rid of that layer that we’ve been building up to get us through winter, and move onto our SuperHuman physique.
But, before you go and try to build as much muscle as possible in your stomach, let’s discuss something else…
Another thing that we want to focus in on for this article is that you cannot build muscle to replace fat. This goes for everything, not just your abs. The muscles can grow, but the fat will remain, unless you get rid of it somehow.
We’ll talk about this more later, but for now just keep it in the back of your head before you go ahead and jam pack your routine with a million ab exercises.
Let me just repeat myself for a quick second and make it more clear, because that may have been a little confusing: Fat does NOT turn into Muscle.
What needs to happen is we need to drop body-fat in order to see our abs. That’s the biggest secret. We’ll even take a look at what body-fat percentages you’ll more than likely need to achieve in order to start seeing a flatter stomach and have your abdominal muscles start peaking out.
The Second Secret to a Flat Stomach and Six Pack Abs: Nutrition
The second secret (and this time I’m not playing any jokes right off the bat) to a flat stomach and six pack abs is the fact that nutrition is extremely important. Actually, it’s more than half the battle to achieving that six pack you want.
If you don’t have the willpower to make changes in your nutrition, well than stop right there!
This workout routine might be more up your alley: Jabba the Hutt Routine
Okay, you had to know if I didn’t make a joke right away there was one eventually coming…
The cool part is that we need fat burning, and that’s something that’s inherently built into intermittent fasting. Don’t fret though, if it’s not completely for you, we have ways to ease into it and even utilize other tactics to make it forever easy. Just about every single Nutrition Class (Viking, Hunter Gatherer, Monk, Samurai and soon to be Spartan Warrior) utilize intermittent fasting and have levels of difficulty for our members to follow in The Academy.
I’ve said this so many times, and I’m even repeating myself again right here in this article, but I think it’s important to know: nutrition is more than half the battle. This isn’t just for getting abs, but fitness in general.
You cannot out run your nutrition…and, you cannot out train your nutrition…
Yes, that means that even if you’re utilizing a two a days workout routine like Henry Cavill’s for example (aka Man of Steel, people..), you’re not automatically going to get ripped and have a six pack. If you’re consuming more calories than you’re burning each day and not utilizing any component of our nutrition pillars, chances are you’re six pack is just going to be getting deeper under that layer.
But, there are too many delicious carbs and foods and donuts and stuff out there!!!
Oh, bah humbug!
You don’t think I want to eat all those things 24/7 too?
I do want to. And, I reward myself with them from time to time as a way to continue motivating myself to move forward. It’s called sustainability. Something we strive for at SHJ.
As long as you’re on point 80% of the time, it’s okay to still be a normal human the other 20%. (The 80% you’re a SuperHuman, if you couldn’t figure out the math..)
If you’re going to make excuses and cheat too often, you’ll just have to live with the fact that you probably won’t have the physique you want.
Forming habits and finding what motivates you is essential to your sustainability. That’s why in The Academy a core aspect is group motivation. We constantly check-in and motivate each other, and the accountability is great for staying on track with all aspects of our transformations.
Let’s make one thing very clear though: nutrition is not EASY for anyone. Everyone who walks around with an incredible physique has had to form habits and stay motivated to fuel their body in the direction they want(ed), and now it’s your turn.
The Third Secret to a Flat Stomach and Six Pack Abs: Body-fat Percentages Fully Analyzed
I mean, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that these superheroes we’re used to seeing have a pretty low body-fat percentage.
Superman, Batman, Scarlet Witch and Wolverine are looking pretty freakin’ Superhero Jacked if you’re going by my standards…
But, lets take a deeper look into body-fat percentages so we can find out just where we stand.
Lets start by looking at the men’s body-fat examples:
Alright, even most of the superheroes we see don’t look like they’re walking around with 3-4% range, and even the 6-7% range might be pushing it ever so slightly. Which is actually a good thing, because a constant 3-9% range for us would be somewhat unrealistic to pursue for a long period of time. And, being that we shoot for sustainability here, shooting for the 10+% range would likely be a better goal to strive for.
As you can tell, abdominal muscles are even slightly apparent at the 15% mark, so making your goal at 10-12% is definitely smart to make it more of a sustainable and achievable feat.
As we talked about earlier, lowering your body-fat is the key to being able to see your abs, and flattening your stomach. These are the portrayals for the men, but the women numbers fall in a slightly higher range that we’ll want to look at.
Lets now look at the women’s body-fat examples:
You will immediately notice the tremendous difference in number range. It’s important to realize that women inherently have a higher body-fat percentage, so ladies out there are going to want to shoot for a different range completely.
Viewing these we’ll be able to do the same thing we did for the men. It’s more likely women are going to be wanting to shoot to walk around at a 20+% mark. You can see a nice flat stomach all the way up to the 30% mark in the picture portrayals, so shooting for that 20-25% mark is not only achievable and sustainable, but it’s also going to get you looking your best.
That means if you’re competing against a same sex counterpart it’s okay to shoot for the same range, but competition against the sexes is definitely completely different numbers.
The Fourth Secret to a Flat Stomach and Six Pack Abs: Building Muscle and Burning Fat
We talked about this already, but it’s important to reiterate exactly what it is I’m talking about.
This is actually going to take us directly into the next secret, so pay attention, folks.
Burning fat and building muscle are two separate things, that much we know – right? Okay, well here’s another mind blower: losing fat and losing weight aren’t really the same thing either.
Some people have a slow time grasping this concept, but it’s the truth if we really look into it more. If we’re strictly talking about losing weight, that could also mean we’re at such a deficit in our caloric intake that we’re also burning muscle. And, I’m going to speak for everyone in saying that that is not what we want. But, if we strictly talk about losing fat, now we’re hitting it right on the mark.
That’s another reason why I mentioned the fact that we love intermittent fasting. I also told you that it inherently works to burn fat, and that’s another reason why guys like Terry Crews and Hugh Jackman love it. Jackman even had his nutrition programmed by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson when getting in shape to portray Wolverine.
So, here’s what I want you to really understand:
1. It’s okay to never do crunches and sit ups again…
Okay, half the readers just closed the website, deleted it from their bookmarks, or just completely threw there computer or phone across the room.
I mean, look at that face of shock on Aquaman…
Are you still with me?
I promise this is worth it. Just hear me out for a second.
Being that we’re focusing on burning fat in order to get rid of the layer of fat hiding our abs, it’s important to realize that crunches aren’t going to be burning the most calories.
Here, take a look at this from DietHealthClub:
Health experts claim that an average person who weighs 150 pounds burns around 1 calorie after every 10 crunches or so. Therefore, the calories burnt doing 100 crunches is only 10 and the calories burnt in 200 crunches, which could take a very long time, is around 20. It is very difficult for a person to do 400 or 500 crunches an hour. Moreover, the calories burned while doing 500 crunches is as low as 50.
Are you sold on this yet?
I know many people probably aren’t.
But let me make my argument even more enticing for you. I have a lot of people ask me: “Why don’t you program more ab exercises into your workout routines?”
Which I in turn respond with: “I program more than enough workouts to give you an awesome six pack.”
And number two will really drive this home even more…
2. Do more compound movements that burn more calories and also target your whole body…
Okay, that whole sentence may have been me telling you what to do, but c’mon you have to admit it sounds a lot better than busting your butt for 500 crunches and not really burning anything at all…
The Four Main Compound Movements are as follows:
- Military Press
- Bench Press
Each one of these will build your abs tremendously and work your core. Considering you’ll need to be keeping your glutes tight and your core even tighter, this will work inherently – and it’s the reason why you see a lot of bodybuilders even neglect many ab exercises.
There are tons of routines in The Workout Database that revolve right around these four lifts, and for good reason. Not only will they build a stronger core, but they’ll also burn more calories, while strengthening tons of other muscles all over your body.
That’s why they’re considered compound movements.
So, hopefully I saved you from your constant crunch battle, but we’ll still talk more about how to achieve this fat loss and strong core.
The Fifth Secret to a Flat Stomach and Six Pack Abs: Cardio and Ab Workouts
It felt fitting to make the picture leading into this category one of the speedster himself, seeing as how we’ll now be discussing cardio.
Cardio is something that is extremely controversial and debated about in more than just abdominal arguments. The fact that it’s coming up now as a main point is based on the fact that we’re talking about losing fat in order to expose our midsection.
Here’s the thing, I’m going to talk about cardio in the sense of opinion based alternatives. What I mean by that is: you should utilize cardio if you like it enough to put the time into it to burn extra calories. But, if you hate cardio, you can make up for it elsewhere.
Some things to keep in mind when it comes to cardio for fat loss:
- If you run a million miles (exaggerating), and burn lets just make this easy and say 500 calories, but then you eat that right back, you’re not really accomplishing much. So, once again neglecting your nutrition is BAD!
- You need to decide what you want to spend your time improving. Do you want to meal prep for a half an hour to an hour or run on the treadmill for a half hour to an hour? What’s going to result in more calories burned for you throughout the week?
- Is cardio something you enjoy? Do you want to incorporate it because it’s fun and will help burn extra calories? Would you rather burn an extra 500 calories daily in order to eat an extra 200 or so? Is that a way for you to get some extra nutrition cheating? This goes hand-in-hand with the first thing I told you to keep in mind, but you need to be aware that you can’t do this to go overboard, or you’re basically just running to run…
Instead of going into a full debate about cardio, I’m going to leave that decision up to you. It can be your best friend, or it can be your worst nightmare.
Honestly, it could be a full article within itself, so let’s just move on, eh?
Now let’s talk about ab workouts for those of you who just really like doing abs…
If compound lifts aren’t enough, and burning fat in other ways isn’t going to do it for you, there are still some ab exercises that I tend to utilize from time to time.
Ab Exercises I still throw into my workouts:
- Ab Circuits
- I like to throw circuits into my routine because your abs are getting trained once you feel them burning. So, sometimes I’ll start with some lighter ab exercises to feel the burn, and then move onto my leg lifts and reverse superman holds (which I’ll talk about after this).
- Leg Raises
- I like doing leg raises holding onto the bar, and also right from the floor. I tend to incorporate these right at the end of my workout.
- Elbow Planks and Reverse Superman Holds
- I like to test the strength of my core when incorporating these two. It’s really easy to test your improvement when you’re doing a timed exercise like these. Time yourself once and then shoot for constant improvement to see how you’re core has been strengthening (even if that’s just from compound movements)!
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I’ll even still do some crunches to get my abs burning, but generally that’s in attempt to go directly into a plank hold and test my strength.
Really it still comes down to burning fat and utilizing the best way to achieve a tight and lean core. And, when I say best way, I mean the most sustainable way that you also find best fitting into your routine.
The Sixth Secret to a Flat Stomach and Six Pack Abs: Water, Sleep and Stress Reduction
We’ve talked about all these things separately at SHJ, but they are extremely important to keep in mind when thinking about fat loss and a flat, ripped core.
Daily Water Intake
We have a full learning module devoted to this in The Academy, and I generally end by suggesting around 3 liters of water per day. This is not only going to help fight against any water retention, but it also proves to improve your skin, and other things that help your overall health and physique.
I know a lot of people who have seen significant results from swapping their normal drinking habits for water. This includes liquid calories.
Liquid calories are so many peoples kryptonite. They can so easily result in an overwhelming sugary, insulin spiking calorie increase. Choosing to make the conscious decision to cut them can also easily result in your daily caloric intake plummeting in the right direction!
Sleep and Stress Reduction
I’ll talk about these two things together, because as we know: sleep effects stress as well. If you can’t recover properly, and if you’re not getting enough sleep, your entire transformation can be effected. If you’re walking around not recovered, and your body is under constant stress it doesn’t matter how much work you’re putting into your physique.
We have a full article on sleep in relation to Daredevil that has helped many people – and stemmed off of my own sleep problems and mistakes!
Sleep is also the main way to increase our testosterone and muscle forming hormones. So not only does it help our muscles and body recover, but it has a significant impact in whether or not we’ll even be able to form them in the first place.
Not only the stress that comes from lack of sleep, but stress in general can have a negative effect on our transformations. It’s important to destress in whatever way we can in order to improve fat loss.
That being said, meditation is something that can have an extremely positive impact on your overall health, while taking your fat loss and transformation to new levels (especially if stress is something that is holding you back).
Closing Thoughts for Achieving your Flat Stomach and Six Pack Abs
Fortunately for you all the things that go into achieving a flat stomach and six pack abs are also things you should be wanting to improve for your overall physique and health as well.
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy.
Making these changes is going to involve forming new habits. Forming new habits is going to take at the very least two weeks, and often times twenty one days. Lasting this long is going to involve motivation, accountability, and very likely a support system.
So, in closing, it’s important to find yourself motivation and a support system when going into this journey. The Academy is a place that offers this, and we’d love to have you – but it also can be found elsewhere.
Also, go back through this article (I know it’s a long one) and really find and understand the key components. You want to burn fat in order to get rid of that pesky stomach in order to unlock those hidden abdominal muscles!
In order to do that you’re going to need to incorporate a bunch of different tactics, and make changes to improve on things that may otherwise be holding you back.
If you need more specific help, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below and ask!