Getting a six-pack isn’t hard! It’s just shrouded in misconceptions. Learn and avoid these core mistakes and you’ll find achieving one becomes so much easier.
(1) You’re Too Fat
This sounds so harsh, but it’s the brutal truth. Void of any sugar coating the reality is if you’re carrying over 10% body fat it is likely your abs will never be visible. This is because even the most scientifically crafted, abdominal-specific strength and conditioning routine will only ever increase the size — and therefore depth and definition — of your rectus abdominis muscles.
For those who never took that physiology lecture, the rectus abdominis muscle is the one running vertically on each side of the anterior wall of the human stomach. Basically the one responsible for the appearance of a six-pack. Now it can be moulded, sculpted and increased in size with exercise — like all skeletal muscle — but even the world's most pronounced stomach muscle is not visible when hidden under a layer of body fat.
Your six-pack solution?
Drop the body fat. All the crunches in the world won’t help with a layer of chub. For this reason spend less time on the ab roller and more time busting out some hill sprints. This is because studies show the more muscle fibres you recruit for a given exercise the more calories you burn. Based on this idea running, swimming, Olympic Lifting, circuit training are all better for your abs than the small, isolated nature of sit-ups.
Yes fat burners might help, but in short, lose fat!
(2) TOO Much Emphasis On Sit-Ups
Following on from the first point is this idea that sit-ups give you a six-pack. A complete lie. I personally haven’t done a crunch in about 4 years. That’s because research from the Department of Kinesiology at the Pennsylvania State found compared sit-ups with planks – an exercise where you get into a press-up position, rest on your elbows and hold for 30 to 90 seconds. Using surface electromyography (EMG) electrodes they discovered there was 20 per cent greater muscle activation in the plank compared to the sit-up. Train smarter, not harder and maybe re-think your ab routine.
If you haven’t see it already, take a peak at my 10-Page Ab Guide (no sit-ups included)
(3) You NEED To Rest
Stop trying so hard! Sounds strange I know but studies show those 6.00am morning runs might be doing your quest for a six-pack more harm than good.
This is because scientists from the Rambam Medical Centre in Haifa, Israel found not getting enough sleep could bring about hormonal changes in the body that increase stress, appetite and possibly the amount of fat we hold around our stomach. Basically grab a lie-in, rest and recover. Hormonally you’ll be better able to burn fat and resist the cookie jar.
(4) Train HARDER!
Further to my last point, that’s not to say put your feet up and expect a six-pack to miraculously appear on your abdomen. Yes, sleep and recovery are important, but when it’s time to work you’ve got to do just that.
Scientists from Laval University in Québec, Canada have published research showing that high intensity training was so much more effective at burning body fat than low intensity training. As well as increasing metabolism, they also concluded “the metabolic adaptations taking place in the skeletal muscle in response to high intensity training appear to favour the fat loss process.”
(5) You Think Diets Work!
According to scientists from the Department of Psychology at the University of California diets are not — and never will be — the answer to your six-pack quest. Why? Because statistics show 90% of them fail. Worth noting is this statistic was based on a 1959 study of only 100 patients, but it’s since been reinforced by numerous clinical studies and was recognized at the Australian New Zealand Obesity Society conference 2009 and the International Obesity Summit 2010.
Now reasons for this high failure rate are complex. There are also too many to list. But in short, we were never meant to eat through rules, restrictions and checklists. Diets are applying a simple, mechanical solution to a complex biological reality. Therefore your second six-pack solution — according to the International Journal of Obesity — is education and finding a way of eating that personally works for you.
This is because in a large-scaled study in which many diets were analysed, the International Journal of Obesity found there was no perfect nutrition plan. Instead they concluded, “Regardless of assigned diet, 12-month weight change was greater in the most adherent.” Adding, “These results suggest that strategies to increase adherence may deserve more emphasis than the specific diet.” Basically the diet doesn’t matter, sticking to it does. Ok, nutrition covered. Now take a look at point 3 to see where exercise fits into your six-pack equation.
(Again) If you haven’t see it already, take a peak at my 10-Page Ab Guide (no sit-ups included)