The six-minute six-pack

A programme to help you achieve a six-pack quickly

A ‘six-pack’ of rippling abdominal muscles is possible with a combination of correct training and a strictly controlled diet. Use this guide to help you achieve a six-pack:

 Try the six-minute program, which includes:

  • Correct muscles to train your abs
  • Nutrition tips to gain a six-pack
  • Six-pack exercises
  • How to train your abs
  • Abdominal training equipment

Which muscles make up a six-pack?

The traditional six-pack refers to the muscle groups across the front of the abdomen, namely the rectus abdominis. However, the obliques and transverse abdominis are also part of your abdominal muscles and specific core muscles including the multifidus should not be ignored in your training program.

A healthy stomach

We’ve all seen pictures on magazine covers of people with enviably defined stomach muscles. However, it is important to realize that these pictures rarely tell the complete story. The body-building models featured are usually photographed pre-competition — when they have spent weeks dieting-down to achieve such a chiselled look. However, trying to achieve an extremely low level of body fat is neither healthy nor sustainable.

Once the competition is over, the models revert to a normal diet and whilst their ab strength remains the same, their abs become less visible due to a light and healthy covering of body fat. Just because you can’t see your abs doesn’t mean that they’re not there! Body fat is necessary for good health, and simply focusing on lowering your body fat should not be your goal. Instead, focus on healthy nutrition and correct exercises to tone up your abs and the results will follow.

Six-pack training exercises

When training your abdominal muscles, it is important to integrate them into an all-over body program so that you remain in complete musculo-skeletal balance. If you simply focus on exercises to build a six-pack and nothing else, you unbalance the body which can lead to injury. For example, it is important to balance-out stomach exercises with lower back exercises. There are numerous exercises for the abdominals but if you focus on just a few, they can easily be integrated into your usual sessions without taking up too much extra time.

Exercise (read on for exercise descriptions)

Muscle group


Area of body


Standard sit-up Upper abdominals Front of abdomen (upper)
Oblique crunch Obliques Sides of abdomen
Supported v-sit Lower abdominals Front of abdomen (lower)
The plank Core Deep postural muscles
Side plank Core Deep postural muscles
Back extension

Errector spinae

Lower back (to maintain body in balance)

 

The six-minute six-pack

With this simple program, by targeting the correct muscles and exercising correctly, rapid results can be obtained. Start by building up to completing each session once a week, with an interval of two days between the different sessions. Each session should take approximately six minutes. As your fitness improves, build further to completing the entire sequence of exercises twice a week.

Session 1

Target = two sets of 20 repetitions of each exercise.

  1. Standard sit-up
    Lie on your back, on the floor, feet flat, knees bent and shoulder width apart. Position your fingertips just forward of your ears. Keeping the head and neck in line with the spine, lift the shoulders up from the floor, contracting the abdominals. Lower the body to the floor under control and repeat. Avoid hooking the feet under a stationary object, which will work the hip flexors rather than the abdominals.
  2. Supported v-sit
    Lie on your back, on the floor, knees tucked into the chest, feet and legs together. Slowly extend legs until they are straight out in front of you, keeping your feet off the floor. Return to tuck position and repeat.
  3. Back extension
    Lie face down on the floor, arms parallel with your sides, head and neck in line with the spine. Lift the shoulders from the floor by contracting the erector spinae (lower back muscles) and keeping the head and neck in line with the spine. Lower the shoulders to the floor under control and repeat.

Back extension exercise for six pack

Session 2:

Target = one set of 20 repetitions for oblique crunches (per side) and 60 seconds duration for both the plank and side plank.

Oblique crunch

Sit on a stability ball and twist your body around so that one hip is positioned on top of the ball. Brace your feet against the bottom of a wall. Slowly lower your body towards the ball until you feel a stretch from the armpit to the hip on the upper side. Contract your obliques and lift your body up to a vertical position to complete one movement. Always return to a fully stretched position each time.

The plank

Lie face down on the floor, positioning your elbows directly underneath your shoulders. Tuck the arms into the sides, flat on the floor and pointing ahead. Bringing the legs and toes together; lift your body up from the floor, balancing upon toes and forearms. Fully contract core muscles in towards the spine. Maintain relaxed breathing throughout.

Use the plank exercise to get a six-pack

Side plank

Lie on your side on the floor in a straight line. Position one leg on top of the other and prop up your body on one elbow, keeping the elbow well tucked in. Lift the pelvis up from the floor as high as possible and hold the position, fully contracting the core muscles. Maintain relaxed breathing throughout.

Abdominal training equipment

Most gyms use and many sports retailers sell, ‘ab trainers’. This is tubular framed piece of equipment is designed to specifically help you with abdominal training. They are unnecessary. If the abdominal exercises above are carried out correctly, compared with ab trainers, you will:

  • exercise far more effectively
  • achieve faster results
  • achieve greater results
  • save money
  • save training time

Consistency with your training is the key and if you follow the six-minute six-pack program, you will see and feel the difference in your whole body. Stronger abs are just six minutes away!

Comments (7)

  • Chris_Whitehead 'It's good that the article stresses that the model image of a six-pack is not really attainable without starving yourself. Too many people set out with the intention of achieving that look when its not really achievable. Aslo many people neglect the back when doing ab training and wonder why they end up with back pain.'

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  • PaulRitchie2 'I think a large part of it comes down to having a sensible diet. Even if you worked out using this program, if you continued to eat rubbish it would have little effect really.'

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  • TonySmith2 'I've tried similar programs in the past, but it is so hard to keep at it, and my back often has occasional niggles after doing it. Guess I need to work more on the back exercises rather than the abs to get thatflat stomach for the beach. '

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  • exercisephysiologist 'I think that there is one component missing here. Doing specific exercises to lose weight from a specific area is called sport reduction. Unfortunately, this is a myth. In order to lose weight/fat, cardiovascular activities (energy expenditure) must also be included in the program. Doing abdominal/lower back strengthening exercises aid will help develop those abdominals but not necessarily take that fat coat off.'

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  • Wolfen 'side plank is longisimus plank is either well controlled errector spinae or not so well controlled (too much) errector spinae + abdominalis to compensate'

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  • runningfool 'It how is the case that with most people looking to strengthen their abs to the point of visual difference that no matter how long or hard you train you will not see any noticeable difference until you lose fat around your waist, this can only be done with hours of cardiovascular work and stringent dieting. most people are not disciplined enough to put in the effect of a complete lifestyle change runningfool'

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  • labob 'Didn't there used to be videos that went with this article. I can't find them anywhere'

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