A simple guide for getting a toned stomach

Ah, the elusive six-pack. Better known to trainers and sports people as the rectus abdominis, these muscles have been defining, in more ways than one, what it takes to be fit and healthy for decades. It’s hard to get away from this muscle group. Images of rippling abdomens are blasted over newspapers and glossy magazines day-in-day-out, and Hollywoods heart throbs and damsels are often clocked sporting washboard stomachs on the beaches of tropical aisles. But how do you get yourself a six-pack? It’s easy to dismiss a six-pack as something only ‘A-listers’ can acquire, with the viewpoint that they have access to something we don’t.  The truth is anyone can have a six-pack, hell, everyone already has a six-pack, its finding it and making it visible that is the problem.


If we break it down, the reason ab’s are not visible in most of us is because the layer of fat over our abdomen is hiding it, and the reason the layer of fat is too thick to see our ab’s is because our diets are too high in refined carbohydrates, sugar, and bad fats. You may have heard the phrase, ‘Abs are made in the kitchen’, and there has never been a truer statement. The western diet nowadays is so chockfull with processed, sugary and refined foods that it’s a minefield when trying to make the right nutritional choices.  Some may be scratching their head and asking, what is a refined food? Take white bread for example; this is a refined food as it has been stripped of the nutrition, vitamins and minerals from the grain and flour it was made from, making it quickly absorbed into our blood stream as sugar. This goes for white pasta, cereals and white rice but to name a few others. So why is this a problem? Well, when refined sugars enter our blood stream, it will either be used by our muscles for energy in the form of glucose, or, stored as (you guessed it) fat. We release a very powerful hormone called insulin which controls this, and the higher the quantity of sugar in our blood, the higher the amount of insulin we secrete, which results nine times out of ten in, more fat being stored.


So what should we do about this? We need to get rid of the fat hiding our ab’s by lowering our fat percentage, so a lot of people opt for the ‘no carbs’ diet route. This is great if you want no energy, hunger cravings and the inevitable fat gains upon finishing due to the unsustainability of this approach. A better idea would be to go for something aptly named by Tim Ferris (author of The 4 Hour Body) the ‘slow-carb’ diet. Put simply, this is the only sustainable nutrition plan that guarantees the results of lowering body fat percentage that I have witnessed. It involves removing all refined, processed and sugary foods from our diet for 6 out of every 7 days of the week, and replacing them with vegetables, proteins (especially at breakfast) and legumes (think lentils and beans) with every meal of the day.  These foods maintain healthy and level insulin secretion, which in turn, prevents our bodies from storing unneeded sugars as fat. On the 7th day of every week, you can eat absolutely anything you like (yes anything)!! This is why it is sustainable, as you are not depriving yourself of any foods you love, you are merely saving them for a particular day.


transverse abdominis for any geeks out there). This approach involvesEating in this way and making small changes to the way you eat will get you most of the way to making them abs visible. If you want to speed up the process a little, exercising in certain ways will get them abs popping out even more. High intensity training burns fat, builds muscles and improves your cardiovascular system quicker than any other training method, and its done in a much shorter space of time (getting fit doesn’t have to be time consuming!). This type of training involves using compound exercises like squats and dead-lifts which engage multiple large muscle-groups as well as engaging your core muscles ( working to failure and shortening rest periods to recruit more muscle fibres, burn more calories and to keep your metabolism high beyond your workout so your body continues to break down your unwanted fat stores! Burning fat without lifting a finger, whatever next!?


There is no question that getting a six-pack requires a certain amount of discipline and if it were easy then everyone would have mouth-wateringly tight abdomens. But the difference now is, you now have the knowledge of what you have to do, and if you want it enough, it is within your grasp to get it! They say that once you do something 5 times in quick enough succession, it becomes a habit. This could be eating eggs every morning for 5 days, or doing 20 press-ups before going to bed for 5 days. So bare the 5-day rule in mind and focus on getting to the 5-day mark when trying to change something, and the rest will look after itself. You will be the envy of your friends and donning a six-pack in no time!



For more information on nutrition or training for a six-pack, feel free to contact me via my contact page. 

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Ray Buckton

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