Sometimes all it takes to get caught up in the hype of the latest ab machine or miracle pill is a simple photograph of a stunning set of 6-pack abs. Just about everyone wants six pack abs, or at least a trim waistline, if not a muscular one, so all the glory these days has gone to exercising the abdominal muscles. But this has caused some serious problems, and falling for the latest gimmick is not the least of them.
When you become so focused on abs and abdominal exercises, you tend to completely forget that there’s much more to seeing your abs than doing crunches and other exercises for the rectus abdominis. By focusing only on the 6-pack muscles, not only do you fail to learn about the complexity and importance of the entire core region and the deeper muscles that aren’t so “glamorous,” you also tend to completely forget the other things that absolutely must come before 6-pack abs ever arrive.
If you fail to do these other 4 things first, it doesn’t matter how much abdominal exercise you do, you will never see a six pack.
To See A set of Six Pack Abs, First, Your Body Fat Must Be Low enough
The biggest reason most people can’t see their abs is because most of the population is overweight or even obese today. For your abdominals to show through, you need a low enough body fat percentage.
For men to see a clearly defined set of six pack abs, it usually requires getting down to about 10% body fat or less, and for the women, it’s usually about 16% body fat or less. It’s not possible to tell you exactly what body fat you will have to reach to see your abs because it also depends on your individual genetics. For example, one man can see a six pack at 11% body fat, while other men say they don’t see their abs until they’re 7% or 8% body fat.
Reduction of body fat is the first and most important thing that must come before a 6-pack. And that leads you to the question, “what is the best way to reduce body fat?”
The first priority in reducing body fat is nutrition, because the easiest way to create a caloric deficit is with a reduction in food intake, but few people think about the quality of the food they’re eating, only the quantity. Proper hydration is also critical, but often forgotten. Exercise is the final key, but ab and core exercises alone just won’t do it. It takes a certain combination of exercise for optimal results.
The Other 3 Things That Come Before A 6-Pack
1. Eat Organic I preach organic so often that to my regular readers, I probably sound like a broken record. However, it’s not without reason: if you want your liver to process body fat efficiently, then you’d better have this important organ working efficiently and kept in good health. Refined foods and alcohol harm the liver and give it no chance to process body fat the way it was designed to do because it’s too busy dealing with all the toxins you’ve consumed. So eat as organic as your budget will allow. If you can’t afford organic, be sure to wash all of your food items (produce) with a natural food cleaner. Eating organic, fibrous foods will also increase improve the functioning of your digestive system and create for regular movements. You should have a bowel movement 2-3 times per day. If not, you are putting a lot of unnecessary stress on your digestive system. If this happens, then losing fat and keeping it off becomes much more difficult.
2. Drink and Be Hydrated! I urge every one of my clients and readers to drink more water. Many people understand the importance of avoiding dehydration, but they don’t realize how important water is in helping remove fat from the body. Most of us are dehydrated and do not even know it. Here’s a simple hydration test pinch the skin on the back of your hand. Pull is up as high as it can go, then let it go. Does it go back to normal immediately? If not, then you’re dehydrated. The rule of thumb is to drink a minimum of a half an ounce of water for every pound of body weight. So if you weigh 200 lbs, you drink at least 100 ounces (Also, if possible, avoid tap water or plastic bottled water as plastic contributes to estrogen and that encourages stubborn fat)
3. Exercise right! If you give body fat a reason to “hang around” (pun intended), then it will. Give body fat a reason to leave and it will do that just as easily. Some kind of activity every single day is just what the doctor ordered for fat loss. Rather than focusing on one type of exercise like bodybuilding or aerobics or yoga or pilates, or just strength or flexibility, I recommend a combination of cardio training, strength training and specific core conditioning exercises. While I recommend exercise such as walking very highly, I also recommend at least some vigorous and intense exercise such as interval training as well. It’s this combination of strength and cardio training, plus an active lifestyle in general, that will help you reduce your body fat enough for your abs will show.
Before you jump the gun and go ballistic with “abdominal exercises,” remember, that there is more to seeing your abs than just crunches. Seeing “6 pack abs” is first a function of low body fat. Achieving low body fat is in turn a function of what you eat, what you drink and how you move. That makes 4 things that come before a 6-pack. You can “ab roller” and “crunch” until the cows come home, but if you haven’t done these four things first, then you’re approaching it backwards and will be disappointed
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