These days, having six-pack abdominal muscles is basically synonymous with being sexy and in shape. For men, this means a washboard stomach. The goal is a little different for women–less defined but flat, lean, and ‘toned.” This idea perpetuated by fitness magazines and online forums would have you believe that if you(!) Do this every day for the next three months then YOU TOO can have abs like the person on the poster (who, full disclosure, has been working out for a decade and understands that it takes way more than laying on a yoga mat in your living room to look like them…and has maybe also benefited from the magic of the ‘Photoshop Diet’). Now, while direct ab training will get the muscles bigger (as would happen to any muscle group you decided to focus on) I’m here to tell you that 1,000 crunches does not a washboard stomach make.
So the good news is you don’t have to train your abs for hours and hours every week to have a six-pack. In fact, you kind of don’t have to train them at all. So, what do you have to do?
If you’re a guy, the secret to a sexy stomach is to get your body fat percentage under 12 percent(*). Yup; that’s it. When your body fat percentage approaches 10 percent, your abs become clearly visible whether you directly train them or not. If you’re a woman, getting your body fat percentage under 20 percent will get you a flat, lean, toned stomach. That’s all there is to it.
So the name of the game to getting those super visible abs it to burn off the fat on top of them. You can burn more fat by incorporating total body exercises into your workout which forces you to use your core and burns dramatically more calories.
Fasted training: Give your body 2-3 hours from your last meal before a workout to enter this state. After your body absorbs that last meal it will realize that its post-meal energy is running out. It then shifts toward burning fat stores to meet its energy needs. This will accelerate the ability to burn body fat and get you closer to your goal.
Size Matters! Keep meals small and effective! As your body uses the nutrients needed for energy it will be forced to store the excess. Here’s how this works :
When you eat food, your body breaks it down into various substances, one of which is glucose, better known as blood sugar. Your body also releases the hormone insulin, which tells your liver, muscles, and fat tissue to take the glucose from the blood and store it.Yourliver and muscles store the glucose as a substance known as glycogen, and your fat cells store it as a substance known as triglycerides. This, in turn will expand the fat cells and thus expand that waist line.
So…is Working on Abdominal Muscles Pointless ?
Absolutely not. Remember, the core is utilized in every motion you make and everything you do. Keeping a strong core is the first step to everything from a successful weight loss/gain program to things like, you know, standing up from the couch without grunting. So instead of doing pointless crunches all night, add workouts for the abdominal muscles between cardio workouts to strengthen the core while you lose fat; your body will thank you later.
But keep in mind no matter how many leg raises you do, if you are not lean it we still won’t see your six-pack.
(*)Anders,Mark Ace commissioned studies ,2001
President & fellows http://www.health.harvard.edu 2006
YOUR NEXT REP: Follow me on Twitter and IG and feel free to share and comment. All workout (and thought) partners are welcomed!