What is the obsession with those 6-pack abs? You cannot read or search anything regarding fitness without being bombarded with advertisements claiming to have the new magical formula for acquiring flat abs. Diets, workouts, you name it. Then all the health sites are littered with photos of super fit models showing off their ab muscles. It all can get a little bit overwhelming and it has gotten to the point now that I am asked about this more than anything else. So, once and for all, we are going to address this issue and kill off the hype about it. Please forward this to all your friends so I no longer have to keep repeating it!
The formula for the six-pack
Despite all the advertising, there formula to have those abs you are dreaming of is quite simple. Starve yourself, eat extremely lean and healthy, exercise cardio, and throw in a little ab work at the end. The key to those abs is being able to see them. In order to see them, you need to get rid of pretty much all of the fat covering them and I do mean all!! It doesn’t take much abdominal exercises to get them toned. Just some daily sit ups and core work will do it. The problem is getting the fat off that is currently hiding them. The models you see in the photos are on some extreme diets and often get down around 5% body fat.
Low Body Fat Men
The good news for men is that it is possible to get down to 5% body fat a lot easier than it is for females. The bad news, is unless you are a large well-built man, you will look like a holocaust victim if you allow yourself to get that thin. Most of those models do a great deal of body building to compensate for their thin size. So, unless you are training primarily for size and bulk, you will actually look pretty sick and gaunt, if you get thin enough to show off your abs.
Low Body Fat Women
Few women are able to get down to this level of body fat to show off the ripped abs. The women that accomplish this are generally pretty extreme athletes, or fitness models who make a career of diet and exercise. Furthermore, super low body fat percentages can be unhealthy or even dangerous. Despite what is commonly thought, women need a little body fat to keep that sexy curved look. Many (not all) women who drop to this extremely low body fat end up looking squared off like a man. Thus whatever “sexy” look they were trying for was undone by going too far. It is IMPORTANT to learn the difference between having a flat tummy and a six pack. A flat tummy is a good goal for health and fitness. It is the pursuit of trying to see all the little ripples in your ab muscles that can get you in trouble.
Exercises for the Abdominals
Throw away any exercise program that is advertised for flat abs. While you are at it, throw away any exercise program that advertises helping only one muscle group or area. If you want that sexy look, you need to be thinking total body. IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO SELECT WHERE YOU LOSE BODY FAT!! Your body burns fat where it wants to burn fat regardless what area of your body you are working. You need to be doing a workout series that incorporates cardio, core, and total body strength training. That way your entire body becomes more toned while at the same time you are shedding the body fat around it.
Pursue total health and forget the abs. If you begin a lifestyle of healthy eating and exercise you will slowly transform your body and shed excess fat. Overtime, you will look more and more fit and shapely, while gaining more confidence and feeling better about yourself. Or you can waste your time in a futile effort to meet some “ideal” image of single part of your body that will probably end in failure and frustration. The choice is yours!!
I received the following question the other day and thought is was worth posting.
I am a 17 year old boy. I am skinny, like many of my friends; however, I find it annoying. I really want to build muscles. You know everyone wants to have a nice body and be able to fight back and stuff. Any advice is welcome… …“Jimmy”
As you are aware, it is not uncommon for a boy to be very skinny at your age. However, knowing that doesn’t solve any problems.
Before we get into discussions on gaining muscle, we first need to address what your actual goal is. Believe it or not, your goal is not to gain muscle weight, instead, that is just a means to your goal. You actually identified what you want in your question and assumed that muscle gain will provide that. You have stated that you want to “have a nice body, and be able to fight back and stuff”. Let’s just be frank, all of us men are the same. We would like to look nice for the girls and have people respect us on sight, but most of all, we want to be able to fight and want everyone to know it!
You wish you were a bigger guy, a stronger guy, and a tougher guy.
Since that is what you are really after, let’s set out on making that happen.
This is the part that is most important. I have seen scrawny little shrimps walk around with so much confidence, that large men are scared of them. I also knew a body builder (who used to be small) that is scared of his own shadow and intimidated by everyone. He still sees himself as the skinny picked on kid he used to be. Size is not the issue, the heart is. Being confident in yourself and also being confident that you can “defend” yourself will always win the day over size.
Okay, so how do we get that confidence?
It is attainable, but you have to be willing to work for it. You also must accept that it will take time and probably not be there by the time you graduate high school, but may show up during college.
Ignore anything a psychologist has to say about the matter. You won’t be confident until you know in your heart you can “handle your own.”
You won’t ever know that you can “handle your own” until you actually learn to “handle your own”. Therefore, you need to be in a class. These are your best options.
Building Muscle. I recommend you do this in conjunction with your “martial art” training. It doesn’t need to take that long. You don’t need a gym. You certainly don’t need to listen to all those giant beef cake weight lifters giving you advice. Go out and buy a $20 pull up bar. Also get some dumbbells 5#, 10#, 15# and 20#. Then either purchase the P90X workout, or you can do the “P90X style workout” on my website. (link below). If you do the exercises six (6) days a week as recommended, you will see noticeable results in about 3 months.
I hope this helps you.
Now go get’em