Everybody wants to get a six-pack.Not just for the aesthetic, but for everything that comes with having a six-pack. You want the feeling of being able to take off your shirt and not be worried about what’s underneath. You want the confidence boost and you want that great sense of achievement. But how many of us are going the right way about obtaining a six-pack?
Personally, I was so confused about why the relentless ab exercises I was doing weren’t giving me a six-pack. Are you someone who’s struggling with this?
Myth : Ab exercises will help you develop a 6 pack
Do you see that guy in the gym who is slightly overweight and only does abs every day? He’s doing countless crunches, is really good at planks and actually has a strong core, but what has he physically got to show for it? Then you see those really skinny guys who look like they haven’t touched a weight in their life, and they never do ab exercises, yet they have a 6 pack.
The thing that makes these two guys look different is their body fat, not the amount of ab training they do.
I’ve read countless articles and routines in ‘men’s fitness’ and other magazines trying all of their ab routines because I was convinced there must be a certain exercise that would show my 6 pack. But really it didn’t matter how many exercises I did because those exercises seemed to not change anything.
After doing a lot of research about why I didn’t have abs I stumbled upon the truth…
“Abs are made in the kitchen”
Whether you have a six-pack or not comes down to how much body fat you have. Depending on your body fat percentage you may not be able to see your abs. It’s as plain and simple as that. If you’ve got a bit of a flabby stomach and you think it’s because you’re not doing enough ab work, think again.
It’s about the amount of extra body fat you’re carrying around your midsection, and the only way to cut that flab and see your six-pack it is to lose weight. The saying that “abs are made in the kitchen” highlights that it is essential to start making sure that what you’re eating is helping you lose body fat, because that’s how you’ll get you a six-pack.
Firstly you want to make sure you’re consuming the right amount of protein, fats and carbohydrates and making sure you’re in a calorie deficit. Being in a calorie deficit means you’re burning more energy than you’re consuming during the day. This is when fat loss will occur. What will happen when you start to lose body fat is that you will become more defined, not only revealing your abs but also other areas on the body.
The more body fat you lose the more muscle separation you’re going to be able to see on your body. Unfortunately most of us are prone to storing body fat around our midsection, so it’s not going to be extremely easy to get rid of.
Different Body fat percentages
As you can see in the photo above there are different types of body fat percentages. Your body fat percentage will affect how you look. If you’re above 12 – 13% body fat you’re not going to have a 6 pack. If you’re going to sit between the 10 – 12% of body fat you are going to be able to see a full 6 pack. People who are 10% and below start to get a really stand out 6 pack. You need to drop lower body fat to be able to see your abdominals.
Examples of various levels of body fat percentages
The more fat you lose will decide which parts of your abs are visible. The first thing you will notice is that the outside of your abs has a toned look. Then you will start to show your top abs, and then middle, and they will get more defined and more visible the more body fat you lose. The hardest area to define are the bottom abs and the V taper, so if you have a single digit percentage of body fat they’ll stand out. Genetics can also play a role in this.
Everyone has a different body goal they want to work towards. Some people want to look good naked, some want to be more defined and some want to look super shredded. What I recommend is that you stay between the 10 – 12 % body fat range. Unless you’re going to compete in bodybuilding or something similar you don’t need to go lower than that. I recommend this goal because you may start to see health issues when you drop too low in body fat.
Hormone function, metabolism, thyroid, and general health can all be compromised when your body fat drops too low. Honestly, you can look great at 10% body fat, but you should never just chase looks. Don’t forget you want to live a strong healthy life, not cut your lifespan and disrupt your body’s natural functions just to look amazing all the time. It’s just not worth it.
How to lose body fat to get a 6 pack
I touched on this topic earlier, but you need to focus on losing body fat through your eating choices. Yes you may eat healthy, however you need to figure out how much energy you’re burning every day to know how much to eat. A great way to do this is an online calculator which gives you an estimate on the amount of calories you’re burning each day. I use http://www.iifym.com/iifym-calculator/.
Once you have a rough idea of the calories you need to consume it’s time to figure out your macronutrient intake as it’s not just about calories.
Macronutrients are the one key way to decide how your body is going to look, so you need to figure out how much protein, carbohydrates and fats you need daily (as these are macronutrients).
Here’s another way to get an estimate of your required calorie intake.
To decide how much protein you need you should times your body weight by 2 (in kilograms) or x 1 per pound of body weight.
So if you are a 75kg man (165 pounds) you should be consuming roughly about 150g – 165g of protein per day. 1 gram of protein = 4 calories which means consuming about 600 calories of protein a day.
Then you would figure out how much fat you need to consume.
For fats you want to times your body weight by 1 – 1.5g in kg and 2 – 3g in pounds. So again for a 75kg man you would be consuming 75g of fats. Fats have 9 calories per gram which means 675 calories will come from fat.
As for carbohydrates, you can use the rest of your calories to estimate the amount of carbs you need. So if I’m consuming 1275 calories from fats and protein I have 725 calories left for carbohydrates. 1g of carbohydrates = 4 calories which means I can consume 180g of carbohydrates per day.
If you’re someone who is slightly more overweight or has high carbohydrate sensitivity I suggest that you cut the amount of carbohydrates a bit and instead replace them for more fats and protein.
A good way to measure how much you’re consuming everyday is using the websitewww.myfitnesspal.com. It’s awesome to track what you do every day plus it gives you a good idea on what foods are made up of.
You don’t need to do this for the long-term because it can be very time-consuming, but I always recommend this site to my clients so they can get an idea of how much they’re eating everyday and whether they’re staying on track.
You should still train your core
Even though I’ve just talked about how important body fat is to find whether you can get a six-pack, that does not mean you should be neglecting core training; it’s still important.
A strong core is going to build an overall strong body. I suggest doing 2 to 3 exercises a week at the end of your work out. You don’t need to spend too much time on ab exercises as long as you focus on the heavy compound exercises which will use your core. Exercises like squats, deadlifts, the standing press etc. are the best because they need bracing and working your abs while carrying out the movements.
Great ab exercises to use are the plank and standing pulldown crunches. 3 sets of 10 will be enough stimulation for the muscles and it will help strengthen your midsection and obliques.
I suggest looking at the picture above and determining your level of body fat. Once you’ve figured out where you are, you need to cut your calorie consumption or increase the amount of exercise you do so that you start to slowly lose weight (remember losing weight requires you to burn more calories than you consume). Slowly start losing weight until you are at about 10 – 12 % and enjoy the benefits of looking and feeling great!
Tyson Brown is a men’s fat loss coach in Sydney Australia. He has been in the industry for over 6 years and in that time transformed himself and changed many clients lives. His focus is fat loss and nutrition and believes everything comes back to a strong body and strong mind.