Want six-pack abs? The secret’s here, but not what you think
Chris Brogan, CEO and president of Human Business Works, tells a funny story in one of his weekly emails on marketing, about the “six packs ab problem” of Men’s Health publisher David Zinczenko.
Whenever the cover of Men’s Health mentions “six pack abs,” sales soar. When it doesn’t feature that phrase in any form or fashion, Zinczenko sells about 30% fewer issues of the magazine.
What’s that all about? Strong core muscles are indeed important to overall body health and tone. But gaps between the abdominal muscles (or, for women, a completely flat, almost concave, abdomen) don’t have any intrinsic value and should not be at the top of your priority list. Here’s why:
There are two key factors that determine the contours of your abdomen, no matter how many crunches you do:
1) Genetics (yep, the shape and orientation of your muscles is in large part determined at birth).
2) Body fat. If your abdominal muscles are covered by layers of excess body fat , the definition of your muscles simply can’t show. As Ian Graham and Bryan Kavan wrote in Muscle and Fitness: “It’s been said before, but let’s say it again, your abs are made in the kitchen. If you still have that cheeseburger and tell yourself you’ll train it off later in the gym, you’ll be chasing your tail for years.”
3) Resistance training -- for the entire body, making sure you target the metabolic “hot spots” (back, chest and lower body). The goal is to stimulate your metabolism and create an after effect that keeps the fat burning even when the workout is over. According to Graham and Kavan, crunches and other direct abdominal exercises are the least important method for achieving lean abs. The biggest mistake most people make when training, they write, is zoning in on them exclusively.
4) Cardio workout. You want to burn body fat? Then you’ve got to include cardio. Just as important as duration is intensity – during which you reach and maintain your target heart rate. (The maximum heart rate for exercise is 220 – your age. Calculate 60-80 percent to determine the heart rate you should target.) In fact, studies show that high-intensity interval training for 30 minutes three times a week is just as effective as 60-minute workouts five days a week. (The Ultimate Results team would be happy to help you plan out the best routine for you.)
You want six-pack abs or a flat stomach? There is no “quickie exercise” that will give that to you. But Ultimate Results promises you this: Focus on the core fundamentals of a fit lifestyle and you will get sexy abs as a free bonus. Do the work -- the unsexy grinding work -- and you will have people asking your secret to looking so good. Then you will be able to say, “Oh, you know” and shrug it off.