Six pack abs are on the top of everyone’s body transformation list. For whatever reason (and I am not going to elaborate on that) both men and women are obsessed with a well defined set of abs. Even though “perfect six pack abs” feature in almost every edition of the popular (and not so popular) fitness and lifestyle magazines, they can be difficult to achieve.
If you are one of those people who do endless reps of sit ups and crunches without any noticeable results, then perhaps you need to go back to basics and get to know your abs better. Have a look at these six facts about your six pack abs before you blame the lack of results on your “genetics”.
Anatomy of your six pack abs
Six pack abs is of course the term that commonly refers to your Rectus Abdominis. It’s the muscle that runs on each side of the anterior wall of your abdomen. There are two parallel muscles separated in the middle by a connective tissue. The six pack appearance of your Rectus Abdominis is caused by three (sometimes four) horizontal bands of connective tissue.
Your abs are just one part of your body’s midsection. In order to get the perfect abs, you need to look at the bigger picture and include the muscles around it. Think about your Obliques (external and internal) – the muscles that run down the sides of your waste and help your torso rotate.
Don’t forget to pay attention to your Transverse Abdominis (TA) – the thin muscle that surrounds your abdomen and keeps your internal organs in place. It supports your torso and contributes to your posture.
Yes, your posture plays a role too. If you want to have that flat stomach you need to be aware of it all the time and work it out even when you are not in the gym. It’s to do with muscle memory. Keeping your abdominal muscles tight even when you are sitting at your desk will “teach” them to stay firm even when you are relaxing. Be aware of them at all times and make sure they are tight.
Don’t neglect your back muscles! Your back and the muscles in your lower back in particular, play a major role in your body development. They are the support your abs need in order to shine. Keep your lower back tight to make your waist line slimmer. A stronger lower back also means lower risk of injury and the agility you need to complete the demanding abs workouts.
Your body fat also plays a major role in how your six pack abs look. You can have the perfect abs but if they are hidden behind a layer of fat, nobody will notice them. Your abs will look like abs if you keep your body fat to under about 15%. The lower your body fat the better your abs will look.
Don’t get obsessed with your body fat though! Don’t go below 9-10% unless you know what you are doing. Otherwise you may compromise your health.
You’ve heard it over and over again: abs are made in the kitchen. The cleaner from fat and junk food your diet is, the better your abs will look. Eat clean and train dirty, not the other way round.
Even if your diet, body fat, back and posture are spot on your abs won’t show unless you exercise them. Don’t focus on crunches and sit ups alone. Think of all muscles in your midsection when choosing your abs workouts. Do cardio to burn any excess fat, squat and workout your back too.
These are just some of the foundations you need to build your six pack abs on. Stay tuned for more articles on how to build and maintain your abs or join the conversation on your favourite social media platform using #sixpackabs.