Image by: Michael Taggart
By Jake Bradshaw
Every man wants a six pack like a Greek god, but sadly many of us give up way too early. With so many myths running around about how to get a flat stomach, most of us think we know it all. The truth is we know what’s best for our bodies, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right answer. Still, the myths exist and it’s time we get the facts straight.
Myth #1) Six Packs Are Genetic
The Answer: Yes & No
We all know those guys who can eat fast food three times a week and still maintain an incredible six pack. Because of this, we often think that he possesses the “six pack gene,” making it virtually impossible to gain fat in the belly since his metabolism, digestion, and bone structure all work to his benefit.
Genetics play a major factor, but it’s not the end all/be all. The shape of your abs is decided at birth, so you might as well deal with it. Some bellies store fat more than others no matter how small your body fat percentage may be. It doesn’t matter which ab exercises you do, you will never be able to change the shape of your abs nor make the cuts you want to see.
So what’s the solution? Simple. Fix your diet and lose some body fat. Most people need to be down to about seven or eight percent body fat to see their six pack, and all of this starts in the kitchen. Eat clean and start supplementing with high quality fish oil which has been shown to assist with body fat loss.
Myth #2) Cardio Is Key To Getting A Six Pack
The Answer: No Way Jose!
Running and other forms of cardio are a great way to burn calories, but when it comes to actually burning fat, it’s not that great. Just look at long-distance runners. It’s rare to see one who’s jacked and muscular. Sure they may be skinny, but the majority of them lack the muscle that most men want.
Running definitely burns calories, but the real culprit is getting rid of the fat beneath your belly skin. One trick is to drink lots of water. When you’re dehydrated, your body will retain water and stores it in the only available storage space under your skin which will give the illusion of excess fat.
As an alternative, start doing 20 – 25 minutes sprint sessions or jump rope interval training. This will be more effective than 10 – 15 mile runs every other day.
Myth #3) Crunches Are All I Need To Worry About
Answer: Get Real, Man!
Crunches are not an effective abdominal exercise. Yes, they work out your stomach and are a great addition to getting a six pack, but there’s so much more to the equation. Zoning in on them exclusively is a big mistake.
I don’t blame you. It makes sense. Your abs flex your spine so flexibility becomes a primary exercise mode, but the reality is they won’t spot reduce the fat. They’ll definitely engage a percentage of the muscles, but in return they might strain your lower back and hip flexors.
Instead, start implementing your abdominals in your full body workouts like yoga, planking, boxing, rowing, athletics, etc. When your abs are working together with your body in its natural movements and shapes, it will all work together to lose excess belly fat.
Myth #4) As Long As I Do Intense Workouts, I’m Fine
Exercise is obvious, but it’s not the whole pie. There are plenty of exercise programs which prove ineffective, and it all has to do with your own metabolism. Forget what you’re friends are saying works for them. Start focusing on the science of it all.
To gain a six pack, you need to train using big compound lifts, unilateral exercises, bodyweight exercises, sprint training and metabolic-type work. The focus needs to be on resistance for the entire body, targeting the body’s metabolic hot spots (back, chest, lower body).
Resistance training will stimulate the development of small proteins in muscles cells, which will in turn enhance your muscles’ ability to generate force. The trick is to stimulate your metabolism and create an afterburn effect that burns fat after the workout as well as during.
Myth #5) Gyms Are A Necessity
Answer: No Way!
It’s easy to assume that you need a gym to get a six pack. After all, all the equipment in the world is there. The balls, the weights, the mats, where else can you get all the things you need? Well take a look outside, at the park, or even at the gym itself. Gyms aren’t the land of milk and honey for six packs.
You don’t need a treadmill or a bench to get a flat stomach. Go outside and do sprints, do pushups and bring in your tummy for a more tense flex, or do air squats and lunges to strengthen your lower abs. Unless you’re trying to build muscle mass, there’s no need for a gym. Do the best you can with what you have. Most importantly, start in the kitchen.