Written by Jack Boardman
Reasons You Don’t Have a Six Pack
If you’re after a defined six pack but are sick of putting in the work without the results to show for it, often the answer can be a minor adjustment to your lifestyle or a small change to your workout if you’re already an avid gym-goer.
To begin, let’s address the more obvious potential reasons including body fat and how often you’re exercising your abdominal muscles.
Now, if you’re not particularly health conscious, not watching what you eat and your ratio of exercise to caloric intake, then – not that we want to be the ones to point out the obvious – but excessive body fat is the issue. However, if you’re health conscious, watch your caloric intake and workout regularly, this still may be the problem.
You could well be crunching serious numbers on a regular basis, but if your body fat isn’t around 10 per cent then the fruits of all those sit-ups aren’t going to shine through in the form of a six pack. If you’re a heavy weight lifter and mass builder, you’ll be consuming a high amount of calories to make those gains.
A result of this is often a build-up in your belly and love handles. There are many ways to address fat loss, but if you’re reluctant to adjust your diet, cardio is a good place to begin if you want to shed a few without losing too much mass.
If you’re looking to lose body fat, you should think in the low term as opposed to a flash diet that will leave you without the strength to benefit from abs workouts. By long term we suggest you stick to a plan that spans from two months – 20 weeks, lowering your intake of calories gradually over that time.
The abdominal muscles, like all muscles that you want to get shredded, require a routine of exercise, weighted lifting and rest in order to build, strengthen and grow. If you do no targeted exercises, even the basics, then beginning with sets of sit-ups three times a week will have a positive effect.
It might be that, even if you get in regular sit-ups, what’s needed is a bit of diversity to your abs workout. Your rectus abdominus (your six pack) isn’t the only part you ought to target. There’s also the obliques, which run alongside your six pack, as well as the transverse abdominus, which is layered below your internal oblique muscle. All of these help with movements like twisting, rotating, extending and flexing. You need to focus on exercises that channel these movements equally to target those muscles in the way you would target the bicep or chest. With work, they will activate and grow. So don’t just focus on the six pack as a matter of sit-ups, think of the torso as a whole and the results will follow.
Cardio vascular training is a royal solution to some of the reasons you can’t see your abs. The benefits of weight loss and body fat-burning are obvious but did you know that running also works your abs? You may not be reaping the benefits, though, if you train incorrectly. Whereas a long, slow jog does burn calories and exercise your muscles, high intensity running for shorter periods and interval training has been proven to burn a bigger amount of calories while boosting your metabolism, while the high intensity of sprinting will work your abs harder in the process.
Many people think that abdominal workouts start and end with sit-ups and similar targeted exercises. This isn’t true. In fact many other exercises, particularly weight lifting work your abs even when you thought you were targeting something else. Think about it: with compound lifts such as squats, deadlifts, pressing and rowing, your abs contract. Add to that the amount of weight you’re lifting, and by the end of each set you’ll have done some serious core work.
Because compound lifting targets your abs, it’s fair to say that if you focus on arm and leg strength, your abs are going to be strong. However, that’s not to say that they will still be easy to see if you have too much body fat.