Nowadays, you can’t pick up a men’s magazine without a picture of a chiseled male on the front cover sporting an impressive six pack. This is often followed up by an article on the inside, usually about what abdominal muscles you should train in order to achieve the same look. The result is that if you go to any gym, you will see a number of members, especially men, doing endless amounts of sit ups and crunches, trying to achieve the magazine cover look.
The reality is that building a six pack depends on a number of factors, and the strength and muscularity of your core is only one of them. Everyone has muscles and muscle tissue. If you are lean enough, you will have defined muscles regardless of their size or strength. That is also the case with your abdominal muscles. You can have the strongest abdominals in the world, but if they are obscured by fat, you will not have your six pack. The appearance of a six pack is also partially down to genetics. If you are naturally lean, you will find it easier to achieve that look.
While core exercises are important for a fully rounded exercise program, reducing your body fat will have the biggest effect on revealing your abdominal muscles. Also bear in mind that you cannot spot reduce fat. That means that you cannot pick and choose where you will burn fat from. Just because you are doing sit ups, does not necessarily mean to say that your body will draw energy from fat stored around your middle. Concentrate on getting your nutritional program right, with a well rounded program of cardiovascular training and resistance training.
In order to lose weight and body fat, you need to be in what is known as calorie deficit. That means you need to burn more calories than you ingest. That does not mean to say that you should aim to achieve as big a calorie deficit as possible. If you do that, your body may enter in a “starvation mode” where your metabolism slows down and your body stores fat as it cannot be sure when its fuel reserves will be restored. For most adults, a deficit of around 500 calories per day should be healthy, and should give you sufficient energy to carry you through your exercise program. Remember, you don’t need to eat as much on days you aren’t working out!
Keep Lifting, Stay Fit!!
Winner of New Year Lean Body Challenge 2008