Six-Pack Abs – The Holy Grail – Introduction
The truth about six-pack abs and why You might not want them!
A lot of exercisers want to get six-pack abs.
For many, six-pack abs are the holy grail of fitness.
So much so, that there are entire workouts and diets dedicated to getting a six-pack, and countless supplements and gadgets, too.
And yet, despite the prevalence of this goal, many of the people who pursue it never achieve it.
In spite of the hundreds of crunches, hours of cardio, and long-term dietary restrictions, six-pack abs are frequently elusive.
And even if you reach your goal, you may not be able to maintain your ripped abs for long.
In reality, for some, getting and keeping hold of a six-pack is easier said than done, and for others, it may even be impossible.
This article reveals the truth about getting a six-pack and explains why you may want to set your sights on a different fitness goal.
Table of Contents
- Are Six Pack Abs the Holy Grail of Fitness – Introduction
- What Are Six Pack Abs?
- Common Obstacles to Achieving Six-Pack Abs
- A Broader Perspective of Six-Pack Abs
- The Truth About Six Pack Abs – Wrapping Up
What Are Six-Pack Abs?
The main muscle for getting a six-pack is your rectus abdominis or abs for short.
This is the long, flat muscle that runs up the front of your stomach.
The rectus abdominis is divided into segments by ligamentous tissue called the linea alba, meaning white lines.
The abs consist of two sides.
When both sides contract together, they pull your spine forward in a movement called flexion.
But, when one side contracts and the other relaxes, the abs pull you sideways, which is called lateral flexion.
The rectus abdominis also compresses your abdominal contents and helps increase intra-abdominal pressure by bracing your core.
A six-pack is when your body fat levels are so low that the segments and outline of your abs are visible through your skin.
As such, getting six-pack abs is mostly about body composition.
- For men, getting a six-pack means reducing your body fat percentage to ten percent or below.
- For women, you’ll need a body fat percentage of around 15 percent for your abs to be visible.
The thicker your abs are, the sooner they’ll push through your skin and become visible.
Therefore, building stronger, more muscular abs will also contribute to a six-pack, which helps explain why some people’s abs are visible at a higher body fat percentage.
It’s also why some people have a flat six-pack, and other people’s abs are more “chunky.”
Unfortunately, not all exercisers are destined to have six-pack abs.
Common Barriers to Achieving Six-Pack Abs
There are several reasons why you may be unable to achieve a six-pack or find it impossible to maintain one.
Genetics – fat storage
While it’s easy to blame poor genetics for your fitness failings, when it comes to getting a six-pack, it could be your biggest obstacle.
Your genetics determine where and how much body fat you store.
For example, some people store most of their fat on their butts and thighs, while others store it around their abdomen.
If you are unlucky enough to store most of your body fat around your abdomen, you’ll need to get very lean for your abs to shine through.
In contrast, if your body mainly stores fat on your thighs and butt, you may find your abs are visible even when you aren’t all that lean.
Sadly, genetics are unmodifiable.
You can always get leaner, but depending on your fat deposition dominance, you may never be able to get lean enough for the perfect six-pack.
For many people, body fat accumulates around the lower abdomen, making it impossible to get six-pack abs.
Genetics – muscle shape
The shape of your muscles is determined by several factors, including muscle belly length, origin and insertion points, and tendon length.
Like your fat-storage genes, these factors are unmodifiable.
Even if you manage to get lean enough to reveal your six-pack, not all of the segments may be visible.
You may end up with a four-pack or even just a two-pack.
But, before you think your genetics are dooming you to failure, there are also favorable genes that mean you may be better equipped to get a six-pack.
You might even be one of the lucky few with the genes to develop an eight or ten-pack!
Training and diet consistency
Invariably, achieving and maintaining a six-pack requires a long-term approach to exercise and diet.
A few good workouts and a lot of missed training won’t do it, nor will the occasional salad.
Depending on your current level of leanness, you could be looking at many months or even several years of consistent training and healthy eating to reach your six-pack fitness goal.
For many, this is impractical.
You’re not a professional athlete and must balance your workouts with your job and home life.
Plus, very few people have the discipline to eat healthily all the time.
That’s why diets usually fail after a few weeks.
Most people have to work long and hard to get a six-pack, but very few have the mindset to be as consistent as they need to be.
This is not a criticism, as it refers to the majority of exercisers.
However, the reality is that for the average person, the amount of work necessary to get and maintain a six-pack is prohibitive.
An irrelevant goal
While there is nothing wrong with wanting to be leaner, stronger, or healthier, putting all your energy into getting a six-pack is a pretty irrelevant goal.
Getting a six-pack won’t improve your fitness or sporting performance, and it doesn’t mean you are healthier than someone who is just leaner than average.
Wanting a six-pack is a purely aesthetic goal, like building bigger biceps or a more toned derriere.
It’ll change how you look, but it won’t do anything for the quality of your life.
In fact, getting your body fat low enough to have a visible six-pack could hurt your health.
Very low body fat levels can affect hormone production and even harm your immune system.
This is especially true for women, who naturally have a higher body fat percentage than men
Focusing all your energy on your abs means you may be neglecting other aspects of your fitness and health.
Some people are genetically programmed NOT to have a six-pack.
But, you still try, and try, and try!
All of this unrewarding effort can be disheartening and even put you off exercise in the long run.
After all, if you can’t get six-pack abs, what’s the point of working out?
In reality, working out and eating healthily offers benefits far beyond getting sculpted abs.
It’s good for every aspect of your health and longevity.
Just because you can’t score a six-pack doesn’t mean you’re wasting your time or have failed in your body transformation.
It’s a very small detail on which to focus.
Training for a six-pack can ruin your relationship with exercise and food, and trying to achieve one when your genetics are against you can be very stressful.
Six-Pack Abs – A Broader Perspective
While a six-pack might be nice to have, there are other fitness goals that are far more important.
These include being:
- Fit enough to run a couple of miles without stopping.
- Strong enough to crank out 15 pull-ups and 30 push-ups in a single set.
- Able to deadlift 1½ times your body weight.
- Capable of holding a plank for 2-3 minutes.
Performance-based fitness goals are generally more meaningful than aesthetic goals.
Also, it’s worth remembering that “form follows function.”
If you want to look strong and healthy, you need to BE strong and healthy.
Athletes don’t train to look the way they do.
Rather, they look the way they do because of their training!
Also, given how many people are overweight and obese, getting a six-pack is the absolute opposite of where most people currently are on their fitness journey.
It’s like a non-exerciser wanting to run an ultra-marathon.
Before worrying about getting a six-pack, most people should focus on achieving a healthy BMI result or hip-to-waist ratio.
Develop unbreakable workout and healthy eating habits, and only then start working toward more specific goals like getting a six-pack.
The Truth About Six-Pack Abs – Wrapping Up
Just because a fitness model or influencer has a six-pack doesn’t mean they know the secret to getting six-pack abs.
In many cases, their genetics are as responsible for their success as their workout and diet.
And just because their program worked for them doesn’t mean it’ll work for you.
While there is nothing inherently wrong with training for a six-pack, you should avoid making it your primary goal and understand that you may never reach this target.
However, even if you never get a six-pack, your workouts and healthy diet are still doing you good.
Every workout and veggie-laden meal you eat will enhance your health and improve how you look and feel.
So, don’t get too focused on getting a six-pack, and remember that getting one is only half the battle; you’ll also need to work just as hard to keep it.
So, ask yourself, is it really worth all the sweat and tears, or are there more important things to focus your energies on?
What are the most practical fitness goals to aim for when you just starting out on your fitness journey?
See the Top 10 Fitness Goals for Beginners + How to Achieve Them for an excellent roadmap.
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