The gyms have reopened after the MCO, and some of us have frantically searched on Google on how to get or get back a six pack ab in the shortest time period. There are thousands of YouTube videos promising a six pack within 1 week, 1 month, etc., all supposedly done with the “perfect” exercise routine. Well folks, this may sound disappointing, but the fact is six packs are not so easy to get at all.
It is hard to believe but whether or not you have a six pack has less to do with exercise and more to do with body fat percentage and genes. It takes effort and willpower to control body fat, and genetics are out of our control.
If after reading this, you are still determined to have six pack abs, do continue on. You may want to know why your hard-core exercise routines have not shown the desired results you have been dreaming about.
Body fat percentage:
What does this mean? Simply put, body fat percentage is a measurement of how much fat makes up your total body mass. Do take note that body fat percentage does not comprise totally of unwanted fat; this calculation also includes essential fat the body needs to survive.
Body fat percentage should not be confused with body mass index (BMI), as they are different measurements. BMI is a measurement of a person’s body fat based on height and weight compared to a standard chart, which can be misleading at times, as it does not take into account muscle mass, bone density and body composition. Example – a body builder will have more muscle mass than fat. Remember that muscle mass takes up more space than fat. However, his BMI reading will be in the “obese” range, as his weight will be comprised of more muscle than fat.
Back to body fat percentage. You can get an accurate body fat reading at a medical clinic or at a dietician’s office, where an underwater weighing station or a DEXA scanner is used, though these 2 options may be costly. If you want an estimation, go to calculator.net/body-fat-calculator where you enter some basic measurement information to get a very general body fat result.
Body fat percentage needed for a six pack:
An important point to know is your six pack will only be apparent if you have a low enough body fat percentage, regardless how strong your abdominal muscles are. According to Dr John Morton, head of Bariatric & Minimally Invasive Surgery at Yale Medicine, Connecticut, a person typically needs to be below 15 percent body fat for a six pack, though this figure varies for everyone. The reason why it varies is because we all have different body fat distribution, i.e., some people carry fat around the midsection, some carry fat in the chest, arms or hips.
Body fat distribution is also determined by a strong genetic component and environmental factors, e.g., smoking and alcohol.
Person A may be at 20% body fat but carries it on his hips, and Person B may also be at 20% body fat but carries it around his stomach, in which case Person A will have an easier time getting a six pack.
Dr Morton pointed out that women have a harder time reaching a low body fat percentage. In women, low body fat can disrupt the menstrual cycle, fertility problems, or even cause heart and immune system damage, to name a few.
Dr Morton suggests seeking medical advice for problems related to weight.
Muscle related to a six pack:
The main muscle related to a six pack is the long rectus abdominis, which is a paired muscle running vertically on the front of your midsection. The six pack look is caused by the intersections (or crossings) of three lateral tendons and one horizontal line. Some people have two or four lateral tendons in which case they will have a four pack or eight pack.
Workouts for a six pack:
The first thing to aim for to get a six pack is to lose some weight. A word of caution here – weight loss does not automatically mean fat loss. Dr Morton emphasizes to up your protein intake over carbs and fat. Keep up the exercise and incorporate weightlifting into your routine. Doing so ensures fat is primarily lost; not muscle or water.
Dr Morton stresses on focusing on core workouts, even if you are not aiming for a six pack. Core workouts done correctly will improve posture, and prevent neck and back issues.
Cut back on alcohol consumption:
“Another helpful way to get a six pack is to avoid the other six pack,” Dr Morton says. Overconsumption of alcohol usually adds weight around the midsection; there is a reason why it is called a “beer belly”!
So, the main points to remember here are – increase your protein intake, cut back on the alcohol, and incorporate some weightlifting to work those abs to help you get where you need to be – either a four, six or eight pack!
Please note – this article is for informational purposes only and is not to be taken as medical advice. As always, do consult your medical practitioner for further information, especially if you have current medical issues.
19th June 19:20