HOW TO GET ABS | STEP BY STEP BASED ON BODY TYPE

“HOW DO I GET ABS?”

Do YOU dream of having a chiseled stomach hard enough to scrub your sweaty gym shorts on? If so, you are not alone.

Haven’t you heard? WASHBOARD ABS are all the hype!

But guess what. Since you already have abs, you also already have a 6 pack! Yup, even you! In fact, you have six abdominal muscles, four oblique muscles, and two transverse abdominals muscles.

So in actuality, you could have a 12 pack! Well, maybe.

Let me begin by pointing out that having visible abs is not an automatic indication of fitness, nor of health. I’ll explain why later, because I’m guessing you’re not actually reading this blog for your health.

So let’s get down to the business of bellies.

By my personal estimation, there are 3 degrees of ab envy. And this is not intended to offend any belly that does not fit the following descriptions.

But hey, this article is about aesthetics!

3 DEGREES OF AB ENVY

1st Degree Abs: Flat Stomach

Having a flat belly doesn’t actually mean you have visible abs.

Anyone can have flat abs. But really, a more accurate term would be flat stomach. Also, there are different degrees of “flatness”, and personal opinions on what one considers a flat tummy to be. But for this article, let’s just agree that flat is the opposite of round or protruding.

1st Degree Examples:
One example of the 1st degree flat stomach is a small framed person who is naturally thin all over. That girl who never seems to gain weight no matter what she eats! I know, I know, it’s just not fair!

However, this is also the body type that tends to gain that belly pooch (in relation to the rest of their body) later in life if she has been sliding by with bad eating habits for decades. So sexy “skinny mamas”, consider yourself warned! 🙂

In terms of soma type (body type) this person is predominately Ectomorph. And in Ayurveda’s ancient mind-body medicine, ectomorph body type most closely correlates to the Vata dosha.

1st Degree Abs: Flat Stomach

Another example of someone who easily maintains a flat stomach is someone who mainly gains weight in her lower body.

This person typically has a longer torso in relation to her legs, and almost always has that hour glass shape. You know, those girls who can still look good in a cropped top after chowing down on pizza.

Because she carries most of her weight in her lower body, and because her hips are usually wider, unless she is very overweight, her belly still tends to look flat.

In terms of soma type this person is predominately Endomorph. And in Ayurveda’s ancient mind-body medicine, endomorph body type most closely correlates to the Kapha dosha.

The classic endomorph is characterized by the following:

How to achieve a 1st Degree Flat Belly even if you don’t fit one of the above examples

1.Monitor your food and beverage intake so that you are not consuming more than you are at least burning what you consume. Even if you don’t exercise regularly you can still have a relatively flat stomach simply by not overeating.Without exercise you won’t reap the benefits of a stronger, fitter body and all the health and mental benefits that go along with it, nor will you be sporting flashy washboard abs.

But if all you are after is a flatter tummy, you can achieve that by monitoring you calorie intake. This can be especially useful for someone who can’t exercise for a period of time due to injury, illness, or other reasons.

2.Monitor your sodium intake. Too much salt or salty foods can make some bellies bloated and full.

3.Monitor your sugar intake.  Too much sugar overloads the liver, forcing it to turn the sugar into fat. Guess where that fat goes! Also, regularly consuming sugar creates insulin spikes making you crave more sweets.

4.Monitor your water intake. Basically, drink more water! Being dehydrated can actually make your body retain more water. Aim to drink 80-100 ounces of water a day; more when you are active or have been outdoors in the heat.

2nd Degree Abs: Tight & Toned

The 2nd degree abs sport a tighter and more defined midsection, and requires more than just counting your calories.

These are the bellies you often see in t.v. and magazine ads. This is a tighter toned look, and is usually sported by fitness junkies and bikini models. While anyone (regardless of body type) can technically achieve this look, it will require actual effort and planning, as detailed below.

How to Achieve 2nd Degree Tight Toned Abs

1.Follow a regular consistent exercise routine while monitoring your caloric intake. Most people will need to eat less than they are burning each day in order to achieve and maintain this tighter toned belly.

2. Monitor your sodium intake. Too much salt or salty foods can make some bellies bloated and full.

3. Monitor your sugar intake.  Too much sugar overloads the liver, forcing it to turn the sugar into fat. Guess where that fat goes! Also, regularly consuming sugar creates insulin spikes making you crave more sweets.

4. Monitor your water intake. Basically, drink more water! Being dehydrated can actually make your body retain more water. Aim to drink 80-100 ounces of water a day. Athletes and those who do strenuous exercise will need to drink more.

How to Achieve 2nd Degree Tight Toned Abs

The 2nd degree abs sport a tighter and more defined midsection, and requires more than just counting your calories.

These are the bellies you often see in t.v. and magazine ads. This is a tighter toned look, and is usually sported by fitness junkies and bikini models. While anyone (regardless of body type) can technically achieve this look, it will require actual effort and planning, as detailed below.

How to Achieve 2nd Degree Tight Toned Abs

1.Follow a regular consistent exercise routine while monitoring your caloric intake. Most people will need to eat less than they are burning each day in order to achieve and maintain this tighter toned belly.

2. Monitor your sodium intake. Too much salt or salty foods can make some bellies bloated and full.

3. Monitor your sugar intake Too much sugar overloads the liver, forcing it to turn the sugar into fat. Guess where that fat goes! Also, regularly consuming sugar creates insulin spikes making you crave more sweets.

4. Monitor your water intake. Basically, drink more water! Being dehydrated can actually make your body retain more water. Aim to drink 80-100 ounces of water a day. Athletes and those who do strenuous exercise will need to drink more.

3rd Degree: The Washboard Abs – 4 pack, 6 pack, 8 pack, 12 pack!

This is the crème de la crème of belly envy! The Gladiator 300 abs. The physique competitor abs. The “I have 3,000 likes on my #flexfriday #abs photo.” abs.

You know the look. It’s probably the one that made you read this article.

So let’s dive in!

It will come as no surprise that this look doesn’t come easy. But did you know that not everyone can even achieve a washboard belly?

This again, has to do with body type, and even muscular shape and structure, NOT necessarily your degree of fitness.

So sorry to disappoint you, but you will have to work your butt off, or in this case your belly off, to achieve this look or even something to close to it. Maintaining the look is even more challenging, and in some cases, not always “good for you”.

We explore why a little further down.

In terms of soma type this person is predominately Mesomorph. And in Ayurveda’s ancient mind-body medicine, mesomorph body type most closely correlates to the Pitta dosha.

The classic mesomorph is characterized by the following:

  • symmetrical build
  • wide shoulders
  • low – moderate body fat
  • gains most fat in upper body
  • rectangular shape
  • large muscles
  • gains muscle easily
  • gains fat relatively easily
  • loses fat relatively easily

How to Achieve 3rd Degree Washboard Abs

ALL of the following steps are necessary, in the order they are listed. No exceptions.

1. Have a genetically predisposed body type that makes it possible for you to build muscle easily, while easily burning fat. This generally describes the classic Mesomorph – your standard bodybuilder type, with a naturally athletic build.

Endomorphs, on the other hand, naturally carry more body fat and have a harder time losing it. The naturally lean Ectomorphs have no problem losing fat but struggle gaining muscle. It doesn’t mean these ladies can’t have a 6-pack, it just means it may be much more difficult, and may require excessive amounts of diet (more food for ectos, less food for endos) and exercise, which is not necessarily healthy nor worth it.

2. Get really lean! Lean doesn’t mean “skinny”. It means having a very high muscle percentage, and a very low fat percentage. We’re talking less than 16% for women and less than 6% for men, according to Precision Nutrition’s “Cost of Getting Lean” article. That level of leanness is achieved by following a carefully designed weight training program and moderate cardio, 5-7 days per week, along with consuming a calorie restricted diet that requires careful and consistent weighing and measuring of food.

3. Following the above regimen consistently without lapse, for a period of time (at least 6-12 months for most people). This depends of course on your current fitness level, fat percent, and body type. For many women it could take longer than one year.

4. Once you achieve the muscle to body fat ratio, you would need to work on making your abs pop through specific exercises, workouts, and foods. Some people even manipulate their water and sodium levels to “dry out” their muscles to enhance their definition. This is a common final day of approach for competitive bodybuilders or for fitness shoots.

 SAY WHAAAAT??

So you see, having a washboard belly is more than meets than eye. It requires:

daily discipline…
a repetitive daily routine…
consistent dedication…
hard work in the gym…
a daily detailed diet…
and overall laser focus.

All of which translates to a rather restricted social life.

While that’s an acceptable sacrifice for some of us, does it sound worth it to you? If you’re like most people the answer is no. And for good reammason.

While 3rd degree washboard abs is admirable and enviable, it requires a lifestyle that is just not realistic, nor even attainable, for most people.

This is where the overused phrase, “It’s a lifestyle.” actually does apply!

It’s a lifestyle that a small percent people actually enjoy (mainly elite athletes or people who are getting paid to look this way), but that the majority of people just aren’t willing to sacrifice for.

And ultimately, maintaining 3rd degree washboard abs is not healthy for anyone! Because it would most likely mean that you are always training hard, always dieting hard, and always at a very low body fat percent. And no matter how you slice it, that’s just not healthy. Not in the long run.

This is what I was referring to when I said that having washboard abs is not always good for you, and that it does not make you fitter or healthier than those with less sculpted bellies. You could in fact be less healthy, physically and mentall,y from the repeated strain you put on your body to maintain this look.

Consider This

Before you get caught up in all the abdominal hype, or cry the belly blues, keep these points in mind. Those fitness models, physique competitors, even your favorite actors – have sacrificed a lot of time, freedom, and “fun”, to achieve that look for a moment in time.

Whether it’s for a photo shoot, a physique competition, or a Hollywood movie, THE LOOK IS TEMPORARY.

As soon as more calories are consumed and/or water and sodium levels are replenished, that person’s 3rd degree belly will quickly become a 2nd or 1st degree belly.

Even just putting on 2-3% of body fat is enough to provide a layer of fat that will cover those shredded abs in a matter of weeks or days!

And don’t forget that photo shoot images are often greatly edited with lighting and airbrushing, to give an even more chiseled look.

My Personal Experience

Quick change from 3rd degree, to 2nd, to 1st degree. 🙂

I wanted to give you my real life example, not just famous people and website images. This collage exemplifies what we are covering in this article. This is me, just 2 months, and 1 month apart.

  1. 1st photo is one week before my first national NPC bikini physique competition.
  2. 2nd photo is just two months after competition. You can see that my belly is fuller and a little puffier, due to increased calories, water, and in my case sodium.
  3. 3rd photo shows a softer, more bloated belly taken on my 7th day of vacation, eating out every day (so more salt, sugar, and fat) with no ability to track how many calories I am consuming, not drinking as much water, and drinking wine with many of my meals.

Competition Abs

These competition photos exemplify what I refer to as “temporary abs”. Competitors do not maintain these hard dried out abs when they are not competing. Most will fluctuate between 1st and 3rd degree abs throughout the year.

Top 5 NPC Masters Collegiate Championship 2015

NOTE: In bodybuilding, the large majority of competitors are Mesomorph. The bikini category is no exception. And because bikini category is not scored on their abs, just overall shape and proportion, most girls try to tone down their ab development so they don’t looked too “ripped”, myself included. That’s only something a Mesomorph would have to worry about.

Competition Abs vs Every day Abs

Bottom line is, when it comes to having “abs” BODY TYPE MATTERS! That means, when all things are equal (training/diet/fat %) everyone’s midsection will not be equal in appearance.

Some of you have a relatively easy time maintaining a 1st degree flat tummy year round, as long as you are not carrying an excessive amount of fat. And with a consistent training program and balanced diet, can achieve tight and toned 2nd degree abs that will be the envy of all your friends!

On the other hand, if you have a short torso, for example, and carry most of your weight in your upper body, then no matter how fit you are, your belly may not appear as flat or as toned as the 1st degree prototype (who barely exercises at all) until you begin implementing some of the stricter habits listed under 3rd degree abs.

And when it come to having 3rd degree “washboard abs”, EVERY DAILY DETIAL MATTERS! Body type. Muscle shape. Exercise. Diet. Daily lifestyle.

The Bottom Line

So as you can see, while I still maintain a relatively flat and toned midsection, my abs are not 3rd degree popping like they are during my competition weeks. To maintain that level of leanness just wouldn’t be healthy (or fun) for me personally.

Now You Know!

So now that you know, which belly degree do you desire? And are you willing to do what it takes to get it?

Let me know in the comments. I always reply.

Have friends with ab envy? Please share this post on your social media pages or directly with those friends.

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