In today's society, the number one characteristic associated with being fit and healthy is a six pack of abdominal muscles. Everywhere we turn media is emphasizing "ripped" bodies, and there is an immense market for products and books that offer the "fastest and easiest" methods to get a six pack.

The truth of the matter is, getting a six pack of abs is an accomplishment that only comes after weeks of hard work and dedication (maybe longer depending on your current body composition and fitness levels); however, if you are serious about building your ultimate "beach body" and looking and feeling great, here are the top factors you must consider to reveal the rock hard abs that lie within.

  1. Resistance training. This is the most important step to implement if you'd like to be able to maintain your six pack once you finally find it. Resistance training will not only burn calories during exercise, it will also increase the total amount of lean body mass you have. Muscle tissue (lean body mass) burns more calories than fat mass. This means that the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn on a daily basis, making it easier to keep those abs revealed!
  2. Cardiovascular exercise. This is to be expected; however, some people ignore this step. Everyone has a six pack. The problem is, many people have a layer of fat covering their abs. You can do as many sit-ups and crunches as you like, but without cardio workouts you will not be able to burn off the fat that is currently hiding your six pack. Not only will these workouts help burn that extra weight off, they will also improve your heart health.
  3. Core exercise. This is the one step that everyone knows is necessary. Crunches, sit-ups, and a wide array of other core exercises are definitely necessary to help build a good looking six pack. Heavy exercises, such as weighted sit-ups, will help build more pronounced abdominal muscles, which is often what males are looking for. Conversely, high repetition exercises will help build a lean and toned midsection, which is often desired by females. Regardless of how you would like your final six pack to look, core exercises are essential and can only benefit your physique.
  4. Diet. This is perhaps the hardest change to make when striving to build a six pack. Empty calories and excess calories will lead to a never-ending quest for abs, so to get your diet in control, focus on eating healthy foods and tracking everything you eat. This sounds like a lot of work, but the results will be worth it. By making sure that you have a caloric deficit (are burning more calories than you are consuming) you will gradually and successfully lose weight. Combining resistance training with a healthy diet will help ensure that the majority of weight you lose is fat mass, therefore improving your overall body composition and bringing you another step closer to finding that six pack!
  5. Consistency. Finally, you cannot expect your abs to jump out at you after a few days of work. As previously stated, depending on your current body composition and fitness levels, this process could take a few weeks, a few months, or even a couple of years. The key is to stay motivated and focus on the small things - being able to run further each workout, enjoying healthier meal choices, seeing increased muscle definition, seeing weight loss, noticing improved body composition. Hard work and dedication, for an extended period of time, are essential for your success.
Incorporating these guidelines into your everyday life will help you set out on a journey for rock hard abs with the right foot forward. Although success will not come instantly and the process will be challenging, with the right attitude and a solid work ethic, you'll be able to reveal a healthy and enviable physique in the near future!