You likely won't get a chance to show off your rock-solid set of abs on a daily basis, but whether you're planning to wear a bikini to your next Caribbean vacation or a pool party with friends, you can be confident in your look. Building a six pack of abs takes many hours of grinding out the right exercises. Squats and pushups are effective body-weight workouts for your quads and pecs, but they aren't ideal to help you build the abs you have on your fitness wishlist.
Squats are a simple exercise that you can perform in a variety of ways, including with a squat machine, with a barbell or dumbbells or just with the weight of your own body. This exercise targets your quadriceps, which are the large muscles at the front of your upper legs, and while you'll contract your core muscles to hold the posture, you can find faster ways to build your abs.
Pushups are an ideal body-weight exercise to perform as part of a home-based workout routine because they don't require any equipment. Pushups target your pectoral muscles, which are more commonly known as your chest or pecs. To hold your body straight during the execution of this exercise, you must contract your core muscles. The contraction works your abs, but because this exercise targets your pecs, it's an ineffective exercise if you want to build your abs.
If you want a standout set of abs, you can't take any shortcuts. Building these muscles requires dedication to exercises that specifically target this area, such as crunches, pushups and planks. The length of time it will take to build noticeable abs depends on how often you work out and how much fat you hold in the area. If you watch TV frequently, try dropping to the floor during commercial breaks and performing 10 crunches. To perform a crunch, lie flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Cross your arms in front of your chest or link your hands behind your neck and contract your abs enough to lift your upper back and shoulders off the floor, and then lower them back down to complete one rep. Although you can work out your abs daily, taking a day of rest between each intense workout gives your muscles a chance to heal. The number of reps and sets depends on your strength and history with body-weight exercises. For beginners, a simple workout of three sets of 10 to 15 reps is an effective starting point.
Performing exercises such as crunches burns calories to help you burn fat at a very slow rate, and if you want to have six-pack abs, you must burn off excess fat around your midsection. You can't specifically target the fat in any given part of your body, but aerobic exercises such as jogging, swimming and jumping rope can help you burn fat throughout your body. Combine aerobic and ab exercises to help you develop your abs.
- ExRx.net: Barbell Squat
- ExRx.net: Push-up
- Bodybuilding.com: Crunches
- Bodybuilding.com: Plank
- American Council on Exercise: Q: Why is the Concept of Spot Reduction Considered a Myth?
- Exrx.net: Fat Loss & Weight Training Myths
- Harvard Medical School: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights
- American Council on Exercise: New Study Puts the Crunch on Ineffective Ab Exercises
Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.