Do you wish you could change something about yourself when you look in the mirror? Are you dreaming of six-pack abs? While we can't speak for everyone, body image tends to be a motivating factor for individuals who have fitness goals. Depending on your body type, achieving defined abdominal muscles can require a great deal of hard work and dedication. However, it's not about the amount of exercises you do. Instead, abs are made in the kitchen. Modifying your diet and lifestyle is key to producing that defined look you've always wanted.
Exercise Alone is Not Enough
If you think doing a hundred crunches per day is the best way to work your abs, you need to think again. The key to awesome abs is not only quantity, but quality. Your abdominals have a purpose just like the rest of the muscles in your body. Understanding their purpose can help you learn how to strengthen them. While hard rock abs might look attractive, abdominals are meant to keep you upright. Their primary function is to support your spine to allow you to have good posture. (Verywellfit)
Just as you would with other muscle groups, you must follow the principle of strength training to strengthen your abdominals. In other words, you need to keep increasing stress on your muscles gradually and give all parts of your core the attention it needs. You can choose from a variety of exercises to aim at your transverse abdominis, obliques, and rectus abdominis.
Ideal Body Fat Levels for a Six Pack
Getting your body fat level within a certain range can help reveal your abdominal definition. If you are a male, your goal is to get a body fat percentage of six to nine percent. For female, the goal is 16 to 19 percent body fat ratio.
Generally, if you are already lean, your abs many not take as much effort to show. Athletes and fitness enthusiasts tend to have a lower percentage of body fat due to their high levels of physical activity.
The body fat percentages stated above are lower than the recommended values. The healthy recommendation for body fat percentages are 15 to 20 percent for men and 20 to 25 percent for women. Typically, women have higher body fat levels than men for childbearing reasons (Livestrong).
Going Too Low
While lowering your body fat percentage might get you get that six pack you've always wanted, we can't guarantee it. In some cases, the abdominal muscles are segmented in an irregular pattern, making them hard to see. As a result, no matter how much effort such individuals put in, their abs simply won't look as clearly defined as with others. Certain genetics allow for that defined look (Myfitnesspal).
Some individuals may choose to achieve extremely low body fat percentages as bodybuilders or figure competitors. However, research shows that you can't enjoy additional health benefits or athletic performance if you go below eight percent body fat. This level is extremely hard to achieve and is not something that can be maintained. Also, it's important to keep in mind that dropping below this level may endanger your health. (Livestrong)
To get that six pack, you can't just simply exercise your abdominals. With genetics on your side, it's achievable with diet modifications. Lowering your body fat percentage is key in gaining this defined look, but be sure to seek help and advice from a fitness instructor or personal trainer as needed and keep your health in mind.