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The Consequence of NOT Training Your Transverse Abdominal Muscles

Man showing off his ripped abs

What Are Your Transverse Abdominal Muscles 

When people start out training their abdominal muscles, commonly known as a ‘Six Pack’, they get fixated on training their outer abs, known as the rectus abdominis, and the vertical abdominal muscles. But no-one ever considers, that’s even if they know about the third and more important abdominal muscle, which must be trained in conjunction with the rectus abdominis and the vertical abdominal muscle, and that’s the Transverse Abdominal Muscles.

Diagram showing abdominal muscles

The transverse abdominal muscles are a paired muscle running vertically on each side of the anterior wall of the human abdomen, and the transverse abdominis muscle is the deepest ab muscle layer. It begins at the pubic bone and ends at the sternum. It’s a very important muscle that helps to stabilize the spine, and very often gets forgotten even by the most experienced trainer.

Unfortunately, even the trusted sit-up or crunches can’t touch these babies, but they are so important when it comes to supporting the back, and preventing injuries. A well exercised set of transverse abdominal muscles also supports the overlying rectus abdominis and the vertical abdominal muscles, even helping to give that chiseled look to the abs.

The reason peBrad Pitts Absople neglect their transverse abdominal muscles and concentrate on the rectus abdominis and the vertical abdominal muscles is, because you can’t see the transverse abdominal muscles, they lie underneath the abdominal muscles that show (See Image).

But exercising your abs shouldn’t be for aesthetic appearance alone, you should be exercising for core strength and neglecting your transverse abdominal muscles only weakens the overall effect, opening you up to injuries.

If you are into flattening or strengthening your central core muscles then you must seriously contemplate doing your transverse abdominal muscles.

The following exercises will help you to exercise your transverse abdominal muscles, helping to strengthen and flatten your tummy… Remember to warm up well, before you begin your training.

Pelvic Tilts

belly exercise

Lay flat on your back on a firm, flat surface, such as the floor or a bench and use a mat or towel to help cushion and protect your spine. Bend your knees, but make sure you keep your feet flat on the floor.
Make yourself comfortable and start by raising your pelvis, it’s important that you only raise your pelvis off  the floor, pause for a count of 3, pulling your belly button in  towards your spine  during the exercise.
Now lower your pelvis back to your starting position. Repeat this for 10 raps (equals 1 set) doing three sets in all. It’s extremely important that you maintain controlled throughout the movement, because you want this exercise to work your abdominal muscles, rather than your body’s momentum, to do the work on the exercise.

Also, make sure to keep your upper body flat on the floor throughout the whole exercise.

Crunch-less Crunch

This second exercise is fairly simple, but some people can find it a bit difficult to start with. Basically, it entails you to pull-in your belly button towards your spine. At first you may find this difficult to do, because you are using muscles, which you may not have used before.
To start with, either lie on your stomach, or you can kneel if you wish. You might want to try both ways and see, which helps you feel the exercise better.
Relax your body as much as possible, now using only the lower abdominal draw in your belly button towards your spine as far as possible and hold for ten seconds. If you find this easy, try holding your stomach in for a longer period.
The goal here is to hold the contraction until you either cannot feel it, or you feel other muscles working harder than the transverse abdominis. When you feel this, let the contraction out.

Scissor Kicks

This stomach exercise also requires you to lie flat on your back on a flat floor, use a towel to help cushion and protect your spine. Position your hands under your butt; this also helps to support the lower spine.
Keeping your back pressed against the floor, suck in your belly button and slowly raise one leg to a height of about ten inches, and then slowly lowering it back to the floor. As your lower one leg, raise the other.
Repeat this motion for an entire set (10 reps) each leg. As with the other exercises above its crucial that you maintain control throughout the movement, and not allowing momentum to get the better of you. Your upper body should remain flat on the floor at all times.


The plank abdominal exercise

As you can imagine from the name this exercise resembles the well-known abdominal plank exercise. First lie flat on your stomach, raise your upper body to allow your arms to be placed, elbows and Palm’s down on the ground. Now rise onto the toes of both feet, keeping your body rigid, vertical to the ground.
Now suck in your belly button and raise one leg off the ground as high as possible, hold for the count of 3 lowering back to the ground. As you lower your leg raise the opposite leg off the ground and hold for a count of 3, and then lower back to the ground.
Repeat this for 10 reps x 3 sets. This is a particularly difficult exercise to do and you may find that you can only do one set to begin with, that’s fine, increase as you find the exercise easier to do.

There are plenty of other exercises, which target the transverse abdominals, but these 4 above should be enough for you to get on with. Stomach exercises, like these above, are key to strengthening your core and obtaining a flat tummy, and they are especially good for pregnant and postpartum women.

Best of luck…John


‘How’ to Get a Six Pack!

‘How’ to Lose Weight And Get a ‘Six Pack’!

I guess I’m quizzed about diets almost daily, people always want to know how to either lose weight or increase their muscle mass. Reaching any level of fitness for you, or anyone, unfortunately, is not as simple as you may think, if it were then the gym would be full to the rafters with people, and obesity wouldn’t exist.

Diets you can do at home is a vast subject, one that would require a book to give it any real justice, but I will do my best, keeping it as simple as I can for you. Having said that, there is a glimmer of hope for us all, but it will require you to take a leap of faith and change your life style, are you ready?

Either way, even if you didn’t want to lose or put on weight, there is some very interesting research going on that confirms an old idea “Reducing calories as some very beneficial and useful side effects”. Let’s start this fascinating journey into the world of diets, by taking a look at the evidence so far and its effects.

Reduce Calories not just for a six pack but also for Your Heart’s Sake too?

Like I said, even if you aren’t interested in losing weight or increasing muscle size, there’s plenty of good evidence to suggest that a well balanced diet offers some very welcome benefits for us all.

For decades now, it’s been believed by many health professionals that those who eat less…tend to live longer. A study carried out by the University of Wisconsin offers even more support for this belief.

Researchers considered ‘how’ caloric intake could affect the function of the heart and concluded that less food could indeed possibly result in a healthier heart. Based on their finding, it would appear that if people reduce their current calorie intake between 20 and 40%, even if they start in middle age, they may well delay the development of heart disease or possibly even…prevent it.

According to professor of genetics Tomas Prolla, PhD, when your heart ages the cells change their source of energy from fat molecules, to carbohydrate molecules.

Carbohydrate molecules burn at a faster rate, leaving the heart with less energy to execute its functions…in effect, the heart becomes stressed out. This being the first step that leads onto heart failure.

But when Prolla’s team reduced the caloric intake of mice, these changes in energy sources was seen less than in those who maintained their normal caloric intake. So don’t be afraid to reduce your calorie intake you could live longer, happier, life’s.

A side note:

It’s also been noted that the older generation are living longer, well into their 90’s and beyond, despite the hardships and lack of food during and just after the First World War, when they were forced to reduce their food intake…food for thought!

Latest Study Results

I’ve been to Greece and to Tuscany in Italy, and for those who haven’t; I can tell you that their Mediterranean cuisine is fabulous. They are full of richly coloured heart-healthy fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and poultry and, of course, plenty of olive oil…fascinating.

Despite their liberal use of oil and grains, researchers have found that people who eat a ‘Mediterranean’ type diet have vastly lower rates of heart disease than people in many other parts of the world…what’s the reason?

Dimitrios Trichopoulos, MD, PhD, from the Harvard School of Public Health, worked with a group of Greek scientists from the University of Athens Medical School, who together investigated the impact of their diet. They studded over 22,000 Greek men and women, between the ages of 20 to 86. They recorded what they ate each day over a four-year period.

They rated the responses of each participant on a scale of zero through to 10, based on ‘how’ closely the participants stayed within the tenets of the diet, with 10 being the best.

The results clearly showed that by following the diet closely not only did it lower the risk of death, from heart disease or stroke, but that for every two-point increase achieved in the rating scale, there was a 25% drop in mortality risk, it clearly also had an effect on overall total fitness.

A similar, but completely separate American study implied the diet also helps reduce the risk of gallstones by almost 20%.

Let’s Look At These Dietary Details that will help get your six pack…

Unlike the detailed approach of many weight-loss plans, this diet has no particular structure. Instead, it includes…

  • Lots of fruits and vegetables
  • Plenty of whole-grain products
  • Some beans, legumes and nuts
  • A moderate amount of fish and poultry
  • Limited amounts of meats, dairy and alcohol.

By following the strategies listed below, will help you stick to a more authentic Mediterranean diet…

Whole grains are whole grains

In addition to their nutritive value, whole grains slow down the digestion of other foods leaving you feeling fuller for a longer…lowering the ‘net-carb’ effect. Whole grains are also very good sources of fibber, which is required to help move waste products out of the body. People are also urged to select the least processed whole-grain foods even if a food is technically a whole grain.

Commercial preparation pulverizes the grain, reducing its healthfulness. It’s important not to be sidetracked by marketing and packaging ploys. Only pick those ‘Bread’ products that display the word ‘Whole’ as the first or second name listed on the ingredients list to qualify as truly ‘whole wheat’.

Variety of grains

The Mediterranean’s eat a variety of delicious and nutritious grains, but ‘Brown’ rice also counts, as does a number of other grain products, including ‘Oats’, especially steel-cut oats and ‘Barley’.

Lots a produce

The Greeks characteristically eat almost a pound of vegetables a day…twice what Americans eat. So don’t be shy with your produce.

Plenty of protein

It’s important to have a good source of daily protein, be it fish, poultry or eggs. Plant protein, in the form of beans and nuts, is also a good source of fibber…just what the bodybuilder ordered!

Counting calories

‘Super-sizing’ your portions is definitely not the way to go. Eat small amounts at all times throughout the day is key. Portion control is just as important when it comes to olive oil too.

Although the Mediterranean’s consume up to 40% of their calories from fat, this includes fish, poultry and dairy, as well as from monounsaturated oils, canola, soy and especially olive oil.

Active lifestyle

The Mediterranean people work hard physically each day, unlike Americans who live a more sedentary life. So exercise should also be as much a part of the diet, as is olive oil. You should aim to get at least 30 minutes of brisk exercise most days.

You should also limit other ‘extra’ foods to occasional treats. Foods like red meats, should be eaten in small quantities throughout the day and don’t think just because your consuming a good clean diet that you can eat 3 scoops of ice cream after each meal, unless you are the type of person that as a lot of difficultly putting on body weight…even then think about the quality and not the quantity of calories that you consume that’s important.

The diet includes dairy, but doesn’t emphasize it. Stick with low-fat products when possible and limit portions.

Although the above diet will help those who are looking to reduce their overall weight don’t be fooled into believing that it has no value for those who are looking to increase muscle size, because following the basic outline of the diet will help you reach your end goals.

How I hear you ask, “well muscle requires more than just proteins, they require good fats, minerals and vitamins to help stimulate muscle growth”, and you are spot on, but this diet will do just that.

First, make the decision and set it as a goal. Over whatever period of time you are comfortable with, slide the right foods into your eating regimen and the wrong ones out. Review often and see what changes you may need to make. Just remember to increase your proteins and bob’s your uncle!

Rules of Thumb

Regardless of whether you are trying to lose or gain weight, by following these simple rules you will reach your goals.

You should be eating around 5 small meals a day this will help burn fat creating your ‘six pack’!

By applying this rule you avoid the possibility of your body slipping into what we call “starvation mould” and needs to start the process of hanging on to every calorie you eat. By eating 5 small meals a day will help speed up your metabolism, reducing body fat, and increasing your energy.

If you are trying to lose weight, then ‘Don’t’ reduce your calorie intake by too much, this is the biggest mistake people make, they decrease their calorie intake by 1000 calories or more, and then give up, because they are starving. And even more disturbing for the bodybuilder, following this action can only lead to muscle deterioration or shrinkage. Instead, reduce your daily calorie intake by 200 calories a day then stick with it for about ‘four’ weeks.

If you don’t start to reduce weight, then reduce your calorie intake by another 200 calories a day. When you start to lose these unwanted pounds don’t reduce calories any further.

If on the other hand you lose too much weight to quickly, then increase your calorie intake by 100 calories at a time until you find a balance that allows you to lose weight and then maintain…remember that you don’t want to lose any muscle size.

Remember that muscle weighs more than body fat; therefore, it’s easy to mistake body weight reduction as fat loss.

Try to eat all your calories in between the hours of waking and midday. In this way your body will burn up those calories over the course of the day.

Reduce the calorie content of your meals as the day goes by until you last meal is purely a protein one…no carbs.


If you are looking to increase muscle size then increase both your calorie and protein intake, but remember to do this slowly as you need to find a balance that will allow you to increase muscle size without the body fat.

There really isn’t any way around this dilemma, unless you have perfect genetics that is. If you are eating too many calories for the amount of fuel you burn off during everyday activity or exercise, you will put on body fat. And if you don’t eat enough calories then you won’t put on any muscle mass, and you run the risk of fatiguing your body.

So the trick is to find…your balance!

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