Not everyone is meant to have a 6-pack of abs, (nor is that necessarily a goal worth setting), yet there are some important things about your abdominal muscles you should know. Here’s why you should care about your abdominal muscles and how to get them, from the experts.
Why is it Important to Have Abs?
Being the center of your body, the major support of your spinal column, and the generation point of most body motions, strong abdominal muscles are important for the prevention of back pain. Abs are also essential to you being able to participate in the fun activities you love, from golf to tossing a ball for the dog. Strong abs are an important element of a healthy body and a good quality of life.
How to Get 6-Pack Abs
If there’s a voice in your head that has been comparing your body to that rare person by the pool-side with the 6-pack, it’s likely leading to feelings of frustration and failure. It’s time to change your mindset. Set realistic goals and give value to your workouts. Being physically active and exercising your abdominals feels good, improves your posture, prevents injury, and allows you to be strong enough to enjoy activities in your life.
6 Ways to Get Better Abs and Stick to a Workout Schedule
- Change your mindset
- Give value to your workouts beyond the scale
- Set realistic goals
- Schedule a regular exercise time into your day
- Think fun and mix up your activity
- Get a buddy
How Much Weight Do I Need to Lose to See Abs?
As for showing off a 6-pack of abs, your body type will play a factor, explains Exercise Physiologist, Jamie Costello of the Pritikin Center. “Whether your body is pear- or apple-shaped, the amount of body fat you have will influence at what point the underlying muscle structure in your abdomen (that so-called 6-pack) will be evident.” Jamie Costello explains that a body that contains 15-19% body fat would readily show abs. However, having such a low body fat, “…is not realistic for everyone, and can cause unnecessary frustration and damage to self-esteem. I prefer my clients to focus on the functionality of their bodies as it relates to their daily activities. Some women are healthy and look great at 30% body fat.” It is important to work towards your goals in a healthy, safe way. If you are working to reduce body fat, Jamie suggests, “…no more than 1-2% per month reduction, achieved through healthy eating and consistent exercise, would be an acceptable goal for those extremely dedicated and genetically blessed.”
Can I Get Abs from Losing Weight?
Yes, you can get abs from losing weight through a safe and consistent exercise plan and a healthy eating strategy. However, perhaps you’d benefit most from making a shift in your mindset. Weight loss can be an elusive goal, that can result in frustration and sensations of failure. But, setting a goal of being consistent about exercising can be an experience with lots of rewards! Exercising helps you in many ways: reduces stress, increases your energy levels, improves sleep, and you feel better (releases happy hormones). Plus, exercising regularly will help you build stronger abs.
Do Abdominal Exercises Get Rid of Belly Fat?
Crunches, planks, and Russian twists on repeat may appear in popular magazines as strategies to grow a 6-pack; however, exercise physiologists suggest caution. Safety first: exercising without proper technique or guidance can lead to injury. Secondly, research shows abdominal exercises alone will not guarantee a loss in belly fat or a 6-pack. A research study asked 24 healthy, sedentary adults, to perform 7 abdominal exercises (2 sets of 10 repetitions), 5 days a week, for 6 weeks. The evidence showed how doing ab workouts alone isn’t an effective way to reduce belly fat. According to doctors, belly fat is something you should care about!
Why is Belly Fat a Concern?
When the body starts to deposit fat around the belly it is a warning sign that metabolic problems are starting. Dr. Maria Anton, an Endocrinologist cautions that increased belly girth is, “…typically seen as a part of metabolic syndrome …patients that might be struggling with belly fat would particularly benefit from learning about lifestyle changes that would potentially reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease, just based on their risk factor of having belly fat.”
How to Lose Belly Fat
The combination of both aerobic and abdominal strengthening exercises is an effective way to reduce belly fat, say researchers. In a study of 74 sedentary adults, those who exercised 3 times per week for 12 weeks, involving a combination of aerobic and abdominal strengthening exercises, experienced a reduction in their waist circumference. Research also shows belly fat is reduced to a significantly larger extent when exercise is combined with a healthy eating plan.
What Exercise Burns the Most Belly Fat?
According to a study published in the Journal of Diabetes Research, high-intensity interval training (HITT) is a time-efficient way to reduce belly fat. However, there’s more to a healthy exercise plan than belly fat. “The most effective and lasting results for improved body composition come from regular strength training (2-3 times a week, for 15-60 minutes), and a cardio strategy that includes both steady state-exercise and high-intensity interval training (HIIT),” explains Exercise Physiologist, Carol Espel of Pritikin.
How Do I Start Living a Healthy Lifestyle?
If you’re not sure how to effectively get started on a healthy lifestyle that’s sustainable and flexible enough for you to be able to succeed, let the experts at Pritikin help. With strategies to help you navigate obstacles in your daily routines, Pritikin makes it possible for you to succeed. Pritikin experts, such as psychologist, Scott Hyman, Ph.D., help guests learn to “manage lifestyle habits around eating unhealthy foods and get active in an environment that is full of high-fatty, high-sugary foods, and promotes being sedentary.”
How to Get the Body You Want
Everyone is different and as such, to get the body you want you need a team of experts to help you develop a healthy lifestyle plan that will work for you. The unique environment at the Pritikin Center allows healthy living experts (Dieticians, Physicians, Psychologists, and Exercise Physiologists) to work together in an interdisciplinary approach that helps you design a healthy living program you can actually use at home, in your daily lifestyle, to achieve your health goals.
Call today, and discuss if Pritikin is right for you.
- The effect of abdominal exercise on abdominal fat. J Strength Cond Res 2011 Sep;25(9):2559-64.
- Effects of combined aerobics and abdominal strengthening exercises on abdominal adiposity in sedentary adults. Afr J Med Med Sci 2013 Dec; 42(4):301-7.
- Comparable effects of high-intensity interval training and prolonged continuous exercise training on abdominal visceral fat reduction in obese young women. J Diabetes Res 2017; 2017:5071740.
- Effect of diet with or without exercise on abdominal fat in postmenopausal women – a randomised trial. BMC Public Health 2019 Feb 11;19(1):174.