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Getting a six pack and what it’s going to cost you!

Everyone who has ever exercised has said that they want a 6 pack, but how is it that you actually get them to shine?

Well, firstly a misconception about the abdominal muscles are that if you cannot see them, they are not there. In fact, everyone already has a 6 pack! It’s there, everyone has abdominal muscles, so do not stress about not having a 6 pack because you already do!

In this piece we will delve into the so called ‘6 pack’ and explore what extreme numbers you need to achieve to get them on display. We’ll also offer an alternative that you can use to help you gain a flatter stomach and a healthier lifestyle and avoid much of the pain required for a highly define 6 pack.

What is a “6 Pack”?

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The abdominal muscles are made up of a few layers of muscles. There is more to it than just that outer layer that you can see. The abdominal muscles are made up of four groups of muscles, these are the external obliques, the internal obliques, the transversus abdominis, and the rectus abdominis. The internal and external obliques are paired muscles located on the side of the body. The inner most layer aids in the digestion of food by girding the food together with digestive juices. In combination with the internal layer, the external layer is responsible for a variety of different functions including flexing/bending the torso forward and sideways, rotating the torso to both the right and left, and helping to provide stability to the hips and lower back. The oblique muscles help you bend from side to side and twist your torso.

The transverse abdominis muscles are in the deep abdomen which maintains tone of the abdominal organs. It also helps to compress the ribs and viscera, providing thoracic and pelvic stability. It terms of exercise prescription it is an important core muscle that supports the lumbopelvic region during our movement.

Finally the rectus abdominis, this is the muscles that is in the shape of the ‘6 pack’. This muscle is the one that can be visible when trained appropriately in conjunction with a healthy diet. Its function is to move the body between the ribcage and the pelvis, while also helps to flex the vertebral column and bring the pelvis forward as it is one of the primary movers of spine flexion.

Getting the 6 Pack on Show

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Now that we understand exactly what the abdominal muscles are, how can we get them on display for the world? Firstly, as health professionals we tend to believe that creating that magazine model 6 pack look is an unrealistic expectation. Rather than striving for something that models and celebrities get paid to do, we would rather you focus on simply trying to flatten your stomach area. And in any weight loss journey it is mostly about maintaining a calorie deficit. You may have heard about this before but a calorie deficit is basically when you burn more calories than you consume. Countless studies suggest that a daily calorie deficit will cause weight loss to occur. Research says a healthy starting point is to aim to be in a 500 caloric deficit each day and then work towards increasing that deficit throughout your journey. So effectively, diet is going to be the main focus on developing a flatter stomach.

In addition, creating that celebrity magazine cover look is something that is extremely hard to achieve and I believe is it unrealistic. The celebs take extreme measures to get that look and it is just something that is not exactly healthy for the average person.

According to the ACE you will need to lower your body fat to about 14 to 20 percent for women and 6 to 13 percent for men. These numbers are relatively difficult to achieve. So instead of endless diet restrictions and crazy workout routines we believe that people should aim to lose weight and aim for a flatter stomach area rather than a super defined rectus abdominal.

Nutrition and 6 Packs go Hand in Hand

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As was discussed earlier, the 6 pack is there! There is no need to fanaticize about getting defined abs, we should rather use dieting techniques to get to a point that makes you happy and confident with your stomach area. Everyone knows what you should and shouldn’t eat and with all the information out there it is hard to find the best method for you. There is an abundance of research that goes into diet and there are many different methods to achieve your desired goals. Some such methods are intermittent fasting, plant-based diets, low-carb diets, the paleo diet, low-fat diets, The Mediterranean diet and the keto diet. However, one strategy may work for one person but not necessarily work for you. For me intermittent fasting is the best and most appropriate method to help maintain my weight. It is recommended that you talk to your trainers and potential a dietitian to depict the best plan of action for you or do our own research and try some different methods until one fits best for your lifestyle. Diet is the number one method for reducing weight and striving towards a healthier lifestyle.

Don’t Forget Exercise!

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With a healthy diet plan established, it is essential that it is paired with… you guess it EXERCISE! We need food for energy, so to maintain a calorie deficit you need to work off that food. All forms of exercise are going to assist in weight loss so talk with your trainers and develop a program that you will keep you motivated to achieve your goals and will aid with your weight loss journey. Moreover, there are specific exercises and training that can assist with getting a strong core and in turn a flatter stomach. There are many studies that demonstrate the effect of core training including one which displayed stable improvements in only a 4-week period. Here are some of the best exercises that can be implanted into your program that you may not have heard of before. (https://www.menshealth.com/uk/building-muscle/a757285/best-ab-exercises/ )

Other Benefits of a Flat Tummy

In addition to having strong, functioning abdominal muscles, there are many associated benefits from having a flatter stomach. Some lifestyle benefits that are linked with a strong core and weight loss are the reduced risk of many diseases including cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, cancers, diabetes and many other life threatening conditions. Some more common benefits with maintaining strong abs are that it helps to improve posture, and therefore lower back pain. This is exhibited in many studies. Another everyday benefit strong abs can have is it can help with stability and thus falls preventions. A common injury risk in older adults, falls can cause major damage and in some cases cause mortality. Systemic research has shown that you are more likely to prevent any accidental falls if core strength training is implanted in seniors functional training programs, and in turn improve longevity and life.

In Summary

As with any training goals, gaining and maintaining a 6 pack or just strong core strength takes hard work, dedication to your body, and a commitment to diet. However, the so called 6 pack look should not necessarily be something everyone should strive for. Rather than focusing on what the celebs and models look like, try to picture a goal that is much more realistic.

This may be trying to reduce your waist circumfuse a few centimeters or just trying to drop a couple percentages of body fat. Don’t get fixated on what others look like and try to focus on a point in which you will be satisfied with your health and well-being. This means understanding that majority of your health and fitness journey is going to come in the kitchen and paring that with the gym, is the most important factor. These improvements will also reduce risk of many health conditions and improve longevity. So, speak to your trainer, about the best plan of action for you to get you living a stronger, fitter, and healthier life!   

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Ben Twite

Ben Twite

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