Why Sit-ups and Crunches Are Not the Best Way to Get a Six Pack

February 26, 2015

As a Pasadena personal trainer the question I get asked the most often by clients is, “how do I get a six pack?”   I usually answer by saying, “you already have one, and we just have to burn enough body fat to make them visible”.  Most people do not realize that we are all born with either a six or eight pack.  The symmetry of our abdominals and how they are aligned is also a genetic factor.  For example, if you have a six pack you cannot train yourself to get an eight pack and vice versa.  Therefore, the real question should not be how do I get a six pack, but instead, what should I do to burn enough fat so that my abdominals become visible.  This means that the program should be designed to lower an individual’s body fat percentage.  The reason why people have visible six packs is that their body fat is in an athletic range.  For males that number is usually between 6-13% and for females it is around 14-20%.  Sometimes people are lucky enough to have a visible six pack in the higher athletic range about 13% for males and 20% for females.  The reason for this is because it is also a genetic factor when it comes to where our body chooses to shed fat off first.  If you are lucky and your body loses fat from the face and stomach area sooner, then your initial weight loss will be much more noticeable to others.  This means that there is no such thing as spot reduction. Therefore, doing a thousand crunches a day is an inefficient way to get abs.  The most interesting thing is that the best exercises to lower stomach fat are compound movements such as: the dead lift and squat which mainly works out your lower body.  Although the squat and dead lift primarily works the lower body they will help you achieve your six packs sooner due to the fact that they are a bigger muscle group.  Isolating and primarily targeting the abdominals during your workouts will actually prolong the time span it takes to achieve the stubborn six packs.  The reason for this is simple once we understand that targeting a single region by doing crunches will burn less body fat than performing movements that utilizes multiple groups of muscle.  Squatting and dead lifting requires more energy and therefore will burn more calories.  With that being said, I still recommend working on the abdominals at the end of your training sessions.  Once you build a stronger core you will have less lower back issues as well as improve your compound lifts which are the secret to faster six pack abs.

By: Pasadena Personal Trainer Ron Le

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