A close up of a man's pecs and abs
Six pack abs: do you have what it takes?

Sculpting a washboard stomach is not as easy as downing protein shakes and crunching. Even though they both help, they are by far not the answer to chiselled abs. If you are serious about adding six pack abs to your body, you need to make sure you have what it takes to build them.

Contrary to all adverts and programs designed to give you six pack abs in just a few weeks, the reality of it is, that they take more time than that.

Don’t get me wrong, you would benefit from these programs but you would need to be realistic and key in all the other factors that matter in the equation.

If getting a six pack was that easy, we will all be going topless: and proud of our abs. Here is a breakdown of what it takes to get these abs to show:

PREPARE FOR A LONG JOURNEY

For a small muscle, the abdomen requires a lot of time and dedication. Unless you are extremely lucky and your body responds well to diet and exercise, you are in for a long wait. That’s because you need to exercise your abs as well as watch your diet and body fat levels. These are the three main ingredients for a six pack.

GET TO KNOW YOUR BODY

We are all different. Our appearance is different and what works for one, doesn’t necessarily works for others. Your body will respond better to some exercises and diet while others will have minimal or no impact on your appearance whatsoever. If you are a beginner, you must spend a few weeks doing bodyweight exercises and building up your resistance before you jump onto any training plan.

Starting out gently and increasing the difficulty as you progress is the key to a successful body transformation. The chances of you giving up after the first couple of weeks would be less too. During these first weeks, your focus should be on performing the exercises correctly, not trying to lift the heaviest dumbbell you have and injuring yourself.

GENETICS

You could argue that your body is genetically programmed to look the way it does. Some people have a six pack, while others are blessed with an eight pack. Regardless of the number, a good diet and exercise plan would take care of your abs. Our bodies are versatile and are designed to adapt to changes. The harder you exercise your muscles, the bigger and more defined they will become.

BODY FAT

Your body fat percentage plays a major role in the way your abs look. The less of it you have, the better your six pack will look. Your body is designed to store excess calories as fat and that fat ends up layered around your midsection. That’s why doing cardio exercises should be a regular feature of your exercise program.

DIET

They say that you are what you eat. You can’t expect to look like a fitness model if you don’t eat like one. Stay away from processed sugars and other bad carbs and make sure you consume plenty of protein and good carbs.

EXERCISE

Your six pack abs (and other muscles) will only develop if you exercise them regularly. Do bodyweight exercises, weight training and cardio in order to stimulate muscle growth. There is nothing wrong with doing crunches and other direct exercises for your abs but you should also do things like squats and other indirect exercises to encourage your abs to develop.

MAINTENANCE

If getting a six pack is hard and time consuming, keeping it that way requires a lot of maintenance. You need to continue with your diet and exercise routine even after you see the results you are happy with in order to keep your abdomen looking like a washboard.

As you can see, getting six pack abs is a complex process involving a lot more than crunches and protein shakes. If you are a regular Skinny Muscles reader, you would know that already but if you are one of our new readers, then this should help you appreciate and understand the journey you are going on.

Don’t expect instant success – but keep at it and your rewards will come.