Struggling to reveal your abs despite endless crunches? Here’s everything you need to know about getting the perfect six-pack.
What is a six-pack?
The six-pack is also known as the rectus abdominus, a paired muscle that runs vertically on each side of the front of the abdomen, separated down the middle by a band of connective tissue called the linea alba.
What does this muscle do?
It’s an important muscle responsible for flexing your spine forwards. It also assists with breathing, stabilises the torso during exercise, and protects your internal organs from impact.
Why can’t I see my six-pack?
Everybody has a six-pack but most people can’t see theirs for one simple reason: it’s hidden under a layer of fat.
Men are predisposed to storing body fat around the stomach, whereas women keep theirs on their hips and bottom. If you have excess body fat, it’s going to prevent your abs from being on full display.
What’s the best way to lose belly fat?
For years people have believed – wrongly – that lots of cardio training in the ‘fat-burning zone’ was the only way to shift body fat. In fact, the best way to effectively burn away excess fat is by doing weight training and high-intensity cardio, whilst being in a calorie deficit with your nutrition.
THE FAT-BURNING ZONE MYTH
If long, slow, steady-state cardio exercise was the best way to burn fat, then everyone who ran the London Marathon would cross the finish line with abs of steel.
Although this type of training does burn calories, it’s not great for optimum fat loss. Too much steady-state cardio can actually decrease the levels of muscle-building, fat-burning testosterone and growth hormone, and increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
High cortisol levels prompt your body to store energy as abdominal fat and break down muscle for energy too.
So keep cardio sessions short and intense and get ripped faster.
Which exercises are more effective at building six-pack abs?
Heavy compound lifts, such as squats, deadlifts and overhead presses, work the entire abdominal region far harder than sit-ups or crunches. That’s because the six-pack muscles are responsible for stabilising your torso and must therefore work hard to keep your upper body in a stable, secure position whenever you lift heavy weights.
However, exercises that directly target the abs should also be included in any training programme to work the muscles as hard as possible and promote maximum growth.
Is it important to work the muscles in my lower back?
Yes – Your lower back muscles are an important but often overlooked part of your core. They play a huge role in stabilising your torso and assisting in the transfer of power between your upper and lower body.
Failing to dedicate the same amount of training time to your lower back as you do to you abs will result in an unbalanced core that will at best prevent your abs from developing to their full potential and at worst result in injury.
If you are ready to take control of your health and fitness, we invite you to get in touch to schedule a free consultation today.