So, you want six-pack abs? You can do it! But know that you've got to do more than ab exercises to achieve them. It's going to take changes in your eating habits, consistency, and dedication, too.
You ready for the challenge? Cool. Check out this Q&A with Amy Jo Palmquest, a ACE-certified personal trainer and NUTRISHOP® owner, who not only helps clients get those washboard abs they crave, but she's also sporting her own six-pack!
Q: Can everyone get a six-pack?
Technically, everyone has a "six-pack!" The abdominal muscles that comprise a six-pack are there, but most people don't see those "washboard abs" because layers of fat and/or loose skin can often obscure them. The coveted six-pack is often only revealed as a person achieves a low enough body fat percentage for their particular body.
So, yes, a six-pack is possible for almost every healthy person if they understand that a diet and exercise plan will be needed to reveal those muscles.
Q: Is a six-pack an indicator of health?
Wait for it ... Maybe! In general, being leaner and carrying less unnecessary body fat is healthier for the general population. Excess fat can contribute to poor metabolic health, sub-optimal insulin sensitivity and a host of other health problems.
Visible washboard abs can be indicative of a healthy body fat disposition. However, having a six-pack and being lean may not be indicative of optimal health.
It all depends on the kinds of behavior and eating habits you are engaging in to achieve a six-pack and whether these behaviors are "healthy" or good for you. So, although a six-pack can be an indicator of good health and fitness, it certainly doesn't mean you're engaging in the healthiest lifestyle choices to achieve that "look."
Q: What goes into getting a six-pack?
Calorie intake, calorie intake, and calorie intake! To obtain a six-pack, you need to be lean enough to see the different abdominal muscles you have. If you don't have a six-pack and want one, you have to create a caloric deficit to change your body composition. You need to decrease body fat.
Training your abdominal muscles and developing/growing them can help them "pop" through the skin/fat and show more, but it ultimately comes down to your body fat in and around your abdomen.
Q: Is it just exercise, or is it what you eat as well?
Exercise is a factor in the equation, but not the most critical piece. I have had many clients achieve a six-pack look with a healthy diet and appropriate calorie consumption. I rarely see clients who can simply exercise, eat whatever they want, and get leaner around their midsection.
Diet, as in calories in vs. calories out, will always be king when looking to expose that hidden six-pack.
So, exercise is a valuable component of developing and revealing the abdominal muscles, but what you do and do not consume, will be the keys to success.
Q: What's the most realistic way to get a six-pack?
The safest, most efficient way to get a six-pack is to create a healthy, caloric deficit over time through a well-designed exercise and diet plan that will facilitate an increase in muscle mass and loss in body fat.
Training your abdominal muscles with an array of proven, effective exercises that target the various muscles of the abdomen will be a valuable component of achieving a six-pack faster. You want to implement both leg raise- and crunch-specific exercises to engage all areas of the abdominal structure.
When it comes to diet, identify your maintenance caloric intake and begin manipulating your consumption to decrease body fat.
Weight training and cardio should be tools you implement as well to achieve the optimal results. The weight training is going to build muscle and increase your calorie expenditure at rest. The cardio activity will likely improve overall health and help create a caloric deficit through calories burned with the added exercise.
If you want the alluring, coveted six-pack, you need to have a plan: a meal plan and an exercise plan, and, most importantly, you must stay consistent!
– Amy Jo Palmquest is a NUTRISHOP® store owner/spokesperson, an ACE-certified personal trainer with a degree in exercise science and nutrition, a wife and mother of three. Learn more at AmyJoPalmquest.com.