Myths of the six pack

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This week I will answer two questions I’ll guarantee every trainer has been asked.

How often do I need to train my abs to get a six-pack? This is a two-part answer.

The first is that your six-pack has very little to do with how much you train your abs. A visual six pack comes from having a low body fat percentage and the best way to do that is to train your entire body, not just your abs – in fact, it’s nearly impossible to get a six-pack only training your abs. Yes, unbelievably those Ab-Blaster 2000 ads are not entirely accurate! This is why we create full body exercise programs.

The second is that you don’t need to, nor should you, train your ab muscles every day. The muscles in your core have a higher percentage of slow twitch muscle fibres, meaning you can train them more often than many areas of your body, but they still respond best by having high-intensity training days followed by rest days. There is no good reason to do ab work more than three or four times per week.

Another question often asked is: When will I begin to see results?

Intensity has a LOT to do with it. While there is no accurate timetable to see results you can generally feel results happening on day one. Are you sore? Are you hungry? Results are coming. As your body adapts to exercise, you are making internal changes, meaning results are on the way. Your body will resist the change. That’s because its natural defence (law of homeostasis) is to protect the state it’s in, even if that state is unhealthy. Its response to this is to fight it with hormonal releases.

How well it adapts varies with every single individual, which is why we are constantly advising people not to look at their scale all the time and, instead, trust measurements and pictures. Some people start seeing results in a few days. Others may take many weeks.

And none of that matters because the healthy lifestyle will always win in the end. If you keep at it, train hard, and eat well, your body will, as it has no choice, change over time. Stay consistent for long enough and you will improve, it’s a physiological law.

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