Why 6-Pack Abs Don't Come in 6 Steps
Headlines such as "Hard Abs Made Easy" and "6 Steps to a Solid 6-Pack" may sell magazines, but seriously: If six-pack abs were attainable in six steps, wouldn't we all be walking around with rippling washboard abs?
Most of us aren't, despite countless crunches in a myriad of angles and variations. Here's why doing those six steps isn't giving you that six-pack.
First off, lower abs, upper abs and obliques don't exist as functional units. "The notion that any abdominal muscles can or should be worked in isolation from the others is pure fiction," Lou Schuler writes in The New Rules of Lifting for Women.
According to Schuler, the goal of core muscle exercises should be to bolster the integrity of your spine and its connective tissues in order to better perform everyday activities and specific exercises.
So what type of exercises should you do to target your core?
An Appalachian State University study compared torso muscle activity in participants performing deadlifts and squats to the activity during pelvic thrusts, back extensions and swimmers on a Swiss ball. The researchers found that deadlifts and squats activated the core muscles more or as much as Swiss ball moves.
And the most important factor in showing off those core muscles is diet. Body fat needs to be less than 10 percent for men and 15 percent for women for chiseled abs to "pop."
"But you need to lose even more body fat to see those lines that run from your lower abs into your waistband," notes Craig Ballantyne, strength and conditioning specialist and author of Turbulence Training for Six Pack Abs. "Your diet has to be full of whole, natural foods, including lots of fruits and vegetables--and you have to eliminate all the processed foods in a bag or a box."
Why does this matter to you? Because a visible six-pack is not easy to attain, but it can be done with a consistently clean diet and a well-rounded exercise program.