Let’s admit it, the ripped muscular look that has been dubbed six-pack abs is very sexy and often admired by many an on-looker. But without the right fitness program, it may take a long time to achieve that sculpted look.

For men, as well as women, fitness includes a program of diet, exercise and adequate rest. The latter is particularly important when trying to lose weight because it helps to lower cortisol levels. During sleep the body repairs and rejuvenates the cells. Getting 7 to 8 hours of rest each night is preferred, but remember if you work out regularly to take at least one day a week to let your body rest and build new muscle.

Diet plays a major role in developing a ripped body. Protein, the building block of every cell in the body, should be eaten at each meal. Protein sources that are low in saturated fat are the best choices and can be found in vegetables and legumes as well as meat. Beans, avocados, and chicken are great examples of low-fat protein.

While rest and diet are important components to fitness, the determining factor to getting six-pack abs is exercise. A plan that includes both cardio and strength training exercises has repeatedly rendered the best results. But in order to get that sculpted muscular look, it’s going to take specific exercises to work that area.

One exercise that works to tighten the abdominal muscles is the abdominal crunch. When doing this exercise and all other exercises as well, keep your core engaged. A Pilates Principle, engaging the core helps to draw in the abdominal muscles, strengthening the back and flattening the belly to provide that ripped six-pack look that is the envy of many athletes and admirers.

Abdominal Crunch

• On a mat, lie flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.

• Place your hands over your ears or lightly behind your head. Do not pull on your neck. You may choose to start with just your right hand over your right ear, while your left arm remains beside your body. This will deter you from pulling on your neck. When you reverse sides, drop your right arm down and put your left hand over your left ear.

• Crunch your midsection up and across as you point your right elbow toward your left knee. (When you reverse sides, your left elbow will be pointing towards your right knee.)

Repeat 8-12 times and reverse sides. Goal: 3 sets.