Whatever the reason you decided you wanted to get a six pack, after the initial enthusiasm and motivation has worn off you might find yourself questioning why you’re bothering. This generally happens the first time your new exercise regime interferes with a night out, or when your healthier diet means no more fast food or (ideally) no alcohol.
Who cares whether or not you’ve got a ripped set of abdominal muscles that will put everyone else to shame? And besides you’re not that fat, not for your age anyway. It takes a lot of time and effort to get a six pack, is it worth it?
The answer is yes it is worth it. Definitely. But then I would say that, so let’s take a look at what it actually means to get a six pack.
One of the most important parts of getting a six pack isn’t how many hours you spend in the gym, it’s what you eat and when you eat it. If you’re lucky you might get away with not cutting out the junk food and still end up with a decent six pack, but you’re never going to stand out or be the guy in the gym that everyone looks to. You’ll also continue to have low mood and energy levels most of the time, with the occasional brief high when you eat or try to wake yourself up with a sugary, caffeine drink.
To get a six pack that you only see on the cover of a fitness magazine, without resorting to steroids or other drugs, you need to fuel your body with high quality foods. This means plenty of protein, plenty of carbohydrates, and just enough healthy fats for your body to function at its best. And I’m sure I don’t even need to tell you about fruit and vegetables. This is best achieved by eating whole foods, such as lean meet for your protein, rice and potato for your carbs, and fish and nuts for your healthy fat. Supplements such as protein powder should be used only sparingly to reach your target amounts where necessary.
When you eat is also important. You might believe that 3 meals a day is what you should be aiming for, but struggle to do even this. In fact it’s more like 6 or 7 meals spread evenly throughout the day, starting with breakfast as soon as you wake up and finishing just an hour or two before bed. Each meal should contain carbs, protein, fat, and fruit and vegetables, ideally from low GI sources.
This is probably the answer most people would give if asked how to get a six pack, but there is a lot more to it than trying to do a thousand sit-ups every day. Like any muscle, your six pack needs a reason to get bigger. A thousand sit-ups, a hundred sit-ups, or even fifty sit-ups isn’t going to do this. Instead the muscle needs working, not for as long as possible, but by lifting as much as possible. Without going into detail, about 10 reps for 3 or 4 sets will achieve this if done to failure, done no more than 2 or 3 times a week.
And remember to work your core, which is basically your internal six pack. You can’t see it, but not only will affect the look of your abs directly, it will improve your posture which will indirectly improve their appearance too. Not only that, it will help you avoid lower back pain.
Low Body Fat
You can’t get a six pack and have a body fat percentage over 15. It’s just not possible. So to lower it you need a healthy diet that contains only enough calories to meet your body’s requirements. This is greater because you exercise, which means you get to eat as much as, if not more, than some other people whose body fat percentage is far higher than yours. It also means your arteries and organs will be healthier and don’t have to work as hard just to keep you alive.
Plenty Of Rest
It might sound a bit strange, but a vital part of getting a six pack is to get plenty of rest. Specifically, plenty of sleep. For most people this means 8 or 9 hours a night, every night, ideally with 20 minute power naps throughout the day. A six pack isn’t built in the gym, it’s built in bed, fuelled by what it gets in the kitchen. This might mean you have to cut back on the late nights out or staying up to watch TV and instead get an early night. And if commitments allow, turn your alarm clock off once a week and allow your body to wake up naturally.
I’ve only really touched the surface here, but even so I think you’ll agree that getting a six pack will do a lot more than cheer you up when you look in the mirror on a morning. Next time you find it hard to motivate yourself or maintain your enthusiasm for something that is a first glance quite superficial, remember how much good the journey is doing for the rest of your body too.
An outstanding, head-turning six pack is so impressive to people because it shows you take good care of yourself, you’ve got dedication and commitment, and that you have a healthy body that is going to be around for a while.
In short, is it worth getting a six pack… yes!