The rarity of ‘washboard’ abs renders them highly desirable, for both sexes. This desire is therefore easily exploited; evident from the thousands of miracle gadgets, supplements or shakes available; all claiming to give you a six pack.
The two most commonly overlooked and important facts I wish I’d been aware of, as an overweight and unhappy teenager longing for a six-pack, are:
1. Your overall body fat percentage must be lowered
This depends firstly on genetics and the amount of fat cells distributed over the abdominal area.
So how can body fat be reduced safely and permanently to reveal the abdominal muscles underneath?
Start by looking at the amount of sugar and processed food in your diet. They are the enemy, NOT fat. Anything your body cannot use for fuel will get stored. And no matter how hard you exercise, you cannot out-train a poor diet.
2. You cannot spot-reduce fat off specific areas of your body
Your abs are your core muscles, existing to stabilize and protect your trunk and lower back. They work from a variety of angles. So does that mean we need to perform sit-ups from a variety of angles in order to strengthen them and kill the fat on top? Far from it!
Sit ups are probably the most commonly misunderstood exercise I’ve come across in my career as a trainer. If you’ve spent a lot of your time devoted to doing as many as you can in order to flatten your stomach, please consider the following before you continue.
Our muscles have been designed to adapt to the stresses we place on them, in order to become stronger. Do bicep curls shrink our biceps? Do press ups shrink our chests? So…why would sit-ups shrink our stomachs?!
Compound exercises like squats and press ups encourage the abdominals to stabilize the pelvis and lower back; working them how they were designed to be. They function while we are standing; so to strengthen your core, get off the floor!
Our genetics may not be changeable but our lifestyles certainly are!
Gen Levrant is an Advanced Personal Trainer and weight-loss specialist. She runs a private functional training studio in Southampton UK helping people get safe and permanent results. For more info, email email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @PTGen or via Facebook.