There’s a way to get six-pack abs by springtime without doing a single sit-up or crunch, or Roman chair leg raise for that matter.

To understand this, you must first ask yourself what type of athletes have the best abs–besides bodybuilders and physique competitors.

Types of Athletes with the Best Abs

Did you say boxers? Sprinters? Soccer players (remember Brandi Chastain?) Gymnasts? Swimmers? If you did, you’re on the right track.

Ever see the 100 meter lineup at the Olympics?

Or even a collegiate track event? They all have six-pack abs. Do competitive sprinters spend a lot of time doing crunches and sit-ups?

Few athletes don’t do ab exercises; it just comes with the territory.

But you can bet that competitive sprinters, swimmers, boxers and soccer players don’t spend too much time with sit-ups and crunches – this is not what they do for competition, and crunches aren’t going to help someone run fast, swim hard or throw pounding right and left hooks.

It’s the actual activity of the sport that brings out the six-pack.

What do boxing, hard running, soccer, and swimming all have in common? They involve hard “sprints.”

When I say “sprints,” I refer to short but very intense bursts of physical activity.

Short, but highly intense bouts of exertion produce hormonal changes that trigger a fat-burning process.

The less fat you have between the skin and muscles (ab muscles), the more your abs, or six-pack, will show.

Research (e.g., Journal of Physiology, 2010; Journal of Applied Physiology, 2007) consistently shows that short, highly intense bursts of activity keep the fat-burning process stoked for hours after the activity.

This type of exercise is superior to traditional aerobics in which you maintain a fixed, sustainable pace for a long duration.

High intensity interval training is a form of burst training, and can be applied to any type of cardio equipment, as well as outdoors.

Shutterstock/Franck Camhi

If you watch soccer players, they typically move with all-out effort, then ease up somewhat, then start up again.

Competitive sprinters do plenty of short bursts of their fastest running for training.

Other sports, like boxing, kickboxing, swimming and even certain forms of dancing are comprised of enough short bursts of highly intense exertion, that it’s no wonder that athletes in these pursuits often have ripped abs.

Though you can achieve six-pack abs without crunches or sit-ups (fast running, boxing and other “bursty” sports actually recruit abdominal muscle), if you do routines that specifically target the abs, you’ll enhance your results.

If you wish to do ab routines, I recommend a 5-10 minute ab workout, done intensely, 2-3 times per week, to get hard abs.

But remember, hard, six-pack abs won’t show if you have too much fat covering them.

Isn’t it a relief knowing you don’t have to do a single crunch or sit-up to get great abs?

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health. 



Top image: Shutterstock/FXQuadro