Abs: Made in the Kitchen or the Gym?

“6 Weeks to See Your 6 pack”

We’ve all seen magazine covers with a promise of big results in small amounts of time. Visible abs after a few weeks of training/dieting is marketed as attainable for the general public, but is that really possible? Or even worth it?

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Is it Possible to Get Abs Quickly?

The answer to this depends entirely on the person we are talking about. More specifically, that person’s body fat percentage. 

The unfortunate truth is that visible abs are really just a bi-product of your fat to muscle ratio. You can do all the ab workouts and tips/ tricks in the book, but if you are not at least 10-12% body fat for men and 18-20% body fat for women your abs won’t be showing through that layer of fat.

Here’s an example: If Sally is 30% body fat it will take her longer than 6 weeks to get visible abs. If Jill is 19% body fat and highly motivated, she could do a 6 week program of strength training and diet to get there. Hopefully Sally won’t be frustrated that she couldn’t get a 6 pack in 6 weeks because she know that a person’s starting point is key to setting expectations for reaching a goal.

Right about now is when most people forget to mention that Abs ≠ Health. As I’ll talk about more below, being at a low body percentage may not be #1 of everyone’s priority list and (as long as you are still at an overall healthy weight/bf%) that’s 100% okay.

However, if for one time in your life you want to see what it’s like to gaze upon your defined abdominals there are two ways to get to a lower BF%: decrease fat & increase muscle mass. If you only focus on losing fat, and you don’t have a decent amount of muscle mass to begin with, there won’t be much abdominal-ness to look at once you get to a low bf%. This is why we must lift weights. Heavy ones.

If you were starting from ground zero (a beginner with none or only a little strength training background), I would recommend:

  • 8-12 weeks of a consistent strength training program (without trying to lose fat) followed by:
  • 6-10 weeks of a moderate calorie deficit to decrease body fat
  • repeat depending on your starting body fat percentage

*You’ll notice that the recommendation above isn’t a quick 6-week fix. It’s a 3.5-5 month plan that will likely get you healthier and more sustainable results!

Is it Worth it to Get Abs (quickly & in general)

This excellent article by Precision Nutrition is one of the only articles out there I’ve seen really touching on this.

Very few people get abs by accident and it is going to take sacrificing some pretty awesome things to get there. You will need to consistently follow an exercise routine and track your calories or adhere to a diet that keeps you in the right caloric range for you. But, despite what people on social media might be saying, not everyone’s goal in the gym needs to be “to get abs”.

However,  if you have a positive body image and want to push yourself, by all means see if you can do what it takes to get abs. One of the greatest ways to challenge your mind is to push your body to do different things. Start working on developing your muscle mass and when you’re ready get a coach to help you healthily and effectively lose body fat.

In the age of comparison it’s important to remember that we all are genetically programmed to store fat differently so your friend might be able to see her abs at a higher body fat percentage that you can.

So what do you think? Are “abs” important to you? Do you feel pressure from social media to look a certain way? Let me know in the comments!

 

https://www.builtlean.com/2012/09/24/body-fat-percentage-men-women/

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