The Real Truth About Six-Pack Abs

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By Craig, Certified Personal Trainer

“How can I get a flat stomach?”

It’s one of the most commonly asked questions, yet most misunderstood concepts, of exercise Whether it’s shedding excess weight off one’s midsection or trying to obtain the Holy Grail of fitness (the vaunted six-pack), many people spend countless hours in the gym trying to perfect this one area more than any other. What makes it so difficult to achieve is not a lack of effort but a lack of understanding. I’ll illustrate some of the reasons why getting a tighter tummy has eluded so many, despite great effort..

“Abs are made in the kitchen” is a common cliché for a reason.What we eat has a huge impact on our bodies. Getting any part of your body to look leaner can only happen if we burn off the layer of fat that exists over top of tit. Well, can’t we just work hard on the area we want to refine and turn that fat into muscle? I wish the answer was yes. But, despite the myth, no  fat cannot be turned into muscle.

Fat and  muscle are separate tissues. You can reduce fat and increase muscle tone, certainly. But you can’t turn fat into anything but less fat. You can do crunches until you’re blue in the face and it won’t make your abdomen any more chiseled unless you alter your diet accordingly.

According to Men’s Health magazine, it would take approximately 22,000 crunches to burn off one poundlb. of fat. And even if you did do that many crunches there’s no guarantee that the one pound of fat you burned would come from your midsection. The body will always lose weight and burn fat how you are genetically predetermined to lose it. This is why spot reduction doesn’t work.

Don’t believe that? Have you ever watched an infomercial about a piece of exercise equipment for a certain body part such (the the Ab Roller, ThighMaster, or The Perfect Pushup)? Did you notice that despite the fact that the person in the commercial was only using that particular product to enhance whatever muscle they were targeting, the rest of their  physique also happened to look lean and tone? Infomercial models don’t look the way they do because they spend endless hours on any one piece of equipment. They look like they do because they treat their bodies as one functional unit that has separate parts and because they focus on both exercise and nutrition.

. Don’t believe that, either? Just think about any time you or someone you know has lost weight. Some people may appear to lose weight first in their hip area. For others, it may be a different area, but you will never lose weight in only one spot. Speaking specifically of the abdomen, it can be one the stingiest areas. The abdomen often lag behind the rest of the body in shrinking. The lower half of the abdomen can even lag behind the upper half of the abdomen when it loses fat. That’s how frustrating it can be! But that doesn’t mean we have no control. The key is to train hard,. eat intelligently,. and  sSleep well. And then. repeat.

Great abs are attainable. I’ve helped lots of people get them. I believe ab work is an essential part of any good training program. Our inner and outer abdominal systems provide movement and stability for the body. And some dedicated ab work can certainly give us a more positive frame of mind before we throw on our bathing suits. I’m all for any amount of ab work a client wants to do as long as they remember that whatever  they put into their body after the workout, will show on the outside , too.

But it’s not about eating the perfect thing, at the perfect time, all the time. It’s about consistency. It’s about eating well and balanced most of the time. If you’re unhappy with how your stomach looks, ask yourself what you can change. Maybe, it’s one less drink on a given night. Maybe, it’s skipping that handful of M&M’s at the office. Whatever the changes may be, big or small, know that it can mean the difference between you staying stagnant and you finally reaching your milestone.But anything worth having is worth the effort. You need discipline in the studio and willpower out of it. Change only comes when we challenge ourselves.

Whether you’re looking for improved abs or meal-planning tips, we can help! Have questions? Post a comment below, email us at [email address here] or ask us the next time you’re in the studio.