We’d forgive you for thinking that any programme with the term ‘six-pack’ in the title is not to be trusted. Nevertheless, there are very few questions we’re asked quite so often as ‘How do I get abs?’ And the answer is more complicated than any one training plan. The fact is, you already have ‘abs’ – that is, a perfectly serviceable set of abdominal muscles. But what most of us think of when we hear the term ‘six-pack’ is visible abs. Crunches might make those muscles stronger – but if you want to see them, you need to strip back what’s concealing them: layers of fat.

It may be cliché at this point to say that ‘abs are made in the kitchen’. But it’s true that, if peeling back body fat is your sole objective, your efforts are better directed towards what’s on your plate than how many plates you lift in the gym. But studies show that, while dropping your calorie intake is the fastest way to shed fat, a higher calorie burn might be the key to keeping it off. ‘High energy flux’, as scientists call it, is a process by which you ramp up your daily activity levels for an elevated energy burn, allowing you to maintain a more modest calorie deficit, rather than reducing your meals to rodent proportions.

Our four-week plan will ensure that your metabolism is burning white-hot. A combo of muscle-building supersets, along with calorie-sapping loaded carries and max-effort sprints, our 40-minute workouts are designed to amp up fat loss while also maintaining strength and muscle.

Repeat each session in order, three to five times per week, aiming to add reps, increase your weights and up your daily movement at the same time. Let’s cut to it.

Workout One – Hard Press

Blending full-body movements with loaded carries, our first workout will spike your metabolism and get your heart rate soaring. Work in an EMOM format (every minute, on the minute), beginning a new move at the start of each minute. After an all-out effort in the fourth minute, rest for 60 secs, then repeat the circuit 8 times total, for just under 40 mins of work.

1. Dumbbell Clean and Press (5 reps)

    Squat down to grab your dumbbells from the ground, just outside of your feet (A). Stand up explosively with a slight jump, then use the momentum to pull the weights on to your shoulders. Dip at your knees and press your dumbbells overhead (B). Lower to your shoulders, then the ground and repeat.

    2. Dumbbell Floor Press (10 reps)

    dumbbell floor press

    The bench press’s brutal, power-building brother. Lie flat on your back holding two dumbbells, your knees bent and your feet flat. Press the bells above you, locking your elbows (A). Lower the weights slowly until your upper arms are resting on the floor (B), pause here for a count before repeating.

    3. Farmer’s Carry (30m)

    carry

    A little hack for big gains. Pass the strap of a gymnastic ring through a set of weight plates, attach your ring and pull tight. Repeat with another set. Grab the rings, stand tall and brace your core (A). Purposefully stride forwards (B). At the halfway mark, drop your weights, turn around, re-grip and return to the starting position.

    4. Single-Arm Snatch (60 seconds max effort)

    dumbbell snatch

    Time to ramp up the effort. Hinge down and grip the dumbbell between your feet (A). Explosively stand up, pulling then punching the bell into the air overhead in one motion (B). Lock your arms, then lower back to the ground, switching hands mid-air. Repeat as many times as possible in 60 secs, then rest for 1 min.

    Workout Two – The Leg Work

    Now we’ll zoom in on your lower body, for what’s sure to be the toughest session of the week. But if you want to see results, don’t hold back. Follow the same EMOM format as used in the previous workout, completing all 4 moves then resting for 1 min, and repeating for 8 calorie-torching rounds in total. Steel yourself… it’s going to be a long 40 mins.

    1. Back Squat (5 reps)

    back squat tom kemp

    Bigger legs mean a bigger metabolism. That’s science. Take a barbell out of a rack, rest it securely across your traps and stand tall (A). Keeping your torso as upright as possible, squat down until the crease of your hip passes below your knee (B). Stand back up explosively, repeat.

    2. Dumbbell Deadlift (10 reps)

    db dumbbell deadlift

    With your dumbbells on the floor just outside of your feet, hinge down and grip them with a flat back and neutral spine (A). Engage your lats and stand upright, pushing down with your feet and keeping your chest up (B). Lower to the ground and repeat. Avoid rounding your lower back, keeping your form tight throughout.

    3. Walking Lunge (20m)

    walking barbell lunge

    It’s like regular walking, but way worse. Re-rack your bar across your traps and stand tall (A). Keeping your chest up and back straight at all times, take a long step forwards with one leg, bending your front knee until the back knee touches the ground (B). Stand up explosively, pause and repeat with the other leg.

    4. Plate Push (60 seconds max effort)

    plate push

    We aren’t pushing away plates in the kitchen, but we are here. Place a heavy weight plate on the ground. Drop down on to all fours, hands on the plate. Lift your knees from the ground (A). Drive with your legs, pushing the plates away (B), close the gap and repeat. Turn around at the halfway mark and push back.

    Workout Three – Hang Tight

    Follow the exact same 8-round format as used for the previous two workouts and perform all 4 moves in the first 4 mins, followed by 1 min of rest. Your third and final metabolism-charging session promises to give your back and biceps a serious workout, while flambéing your core for a stronger set of abs, as a bonus. Now don’t hold back on that air bike…

    1. Hang Clean (5 reps)

    barbell clean

    Lift your barbell up to waist height with an overhand grip. Hinge at the hips to lower it to just above your knees. Stand back up explosively with a slight jump (A), using the momentum to pull the bar on to the front of your shoulders (B). Stand up straight, then lower under control and repeat.

    2. Barbell Row (10 reps)

    barbell row

    With feet slightly wider than shoulder width, step underneath a barbell and hinge at the hips to grip the bar (A). Keeping your torso parallel to the ground, row the bar towards your hips (B), squeeze your shoulder blades together and lower under control to the start, then repeat. Control the bar and avoid moving your torso.

    3. Dumbbell Crawl (20m)

    dumbbell crawl

    Start on all fours, gripping a heavy dumbbell in each hand. Lift one dumbbell and reach forwards with that arm, advancing behind with your back leg on the opposite side (A). Repeat the move on your other side (B). Keep alternating sides, edging forwards as quickly as possible, while staying under control.

    4. Air Bike (60 seconds max effort)

    bicycle part, bicycle wheel, exercise machine, bicycle, bicycle trainer, bicycle accessory, exercise equipment, vehicle, bicycle tire, bicycle frame,

    Set up on an air bike, stationary bike, ski-erg or rowing machine. Whatever your cardio machine of choice, blast it hard and fast for the full 60 secs, aiming for maximum output. Don’t hold back on the first effort, and then endeavour to get as close as possible to your calories or metres in each subsequent round.

          Headshot of Andrew Tracey

          With almost 18 years in the health and fitness space as a personal trainer, nutritionist, breath coach and writer, Andrew has spent nearly half of his life exploring how to help people improve their bodies and minds.    

          As our fitness editor he prides himself on keeping Men’s Health at the forefront of reliable, relatable and credible fitness information, whether that’s through writing and testing thousands of workouts each year, taking deep dives into the science behind muscle building and fat loss or exploring the psychology of performance and recovery.   

          Whilst constantly updating his knowledge base with seminars and courses, Andrew is a lover of the practical as much as the theory and regularly puts his training to the test tackling everything from Crossfit and strongman competitions, to ultra marathons, to multiple 24 hour workout stints and (extremely unofficial) world record attempts.   

           You can find Andrew on Instagram at @theandrew.tracey, or simply hold up a sign for ‘free pizza’ and wait for him to appear.