- Diet & Weight Loss
How To Show Off Your 6-pack WITHOUT Endless Amounts of Crunches
So you want 6-pack abs, huh?
Well, I'll let you in on a little secret: We all have a 6-pack, you just can't see it.
If you've ever asked someone how to get a 6-pack and they told you to do crunches, then you were lied to. But don't worry, they probably didn't lie on purpose, they just don't understand how your body works. You can do crunches all day and night but, if you still have a layer of fat over them, you'll never see them.
You can't pick a spot on your body, do exercises just for that part and have the fat JUST from that area disappear. Your body fat is one layer; when you lose fat you lose it from the whole layer equally. So, wherever your fat is the thickest, that's the last place for it to completely leave. The sad thing is that our midsection seems to be one of the thickest spots on average.
Lower Your Body Fat Percentage
So, if you want to show off your 6-pack, you're going to need to lower your body fat percentage. You'll have to build up the muscle to get them to show earlier and look better, but you need to get that layer of fat off there first. The only way to do that is to burn more calories than you consume.
There are two factors you have to pay attention to: your diet & your activity level.
From my personal experience, you need to pay attention to your diet first. You need to eat less calories overall in a day than you're use to. Eat smaller portions, but eat more often, never let your body go hungry.
Stop eating fast food or guzzling soda and beer. Cook at home more often so you know what you're eating. Get lots of protein from lean meats, fish, dairy and nuts. Don't cut your carbohydrates out completely, just eat a little less and choose better carbs like: wheat breads, brown rice, wheat pastas and so on. Load up on your vegetables; they have very little calories on average and will fill you up. Eat fruit as your snacks and watch out for saturated and trans fats. Unsaturated fats, like what's in fish, are actually good for you. And of course, make sure you're drinking enough water.
Next you're going to want to be a little more active. You don't have to have a gym membership, there are so many different things you can do to be more active. You can ride a bike, go on hikes, do body weight exercises and so on. Anything you do above and beyond what you did before is going to help you burn extra calories. Have fun with it and you won't think of it as a chore.
If you want to run then I recommended that you do intervals. They are more efficient at burning calories, not only when you are running but throughout the rest of the day and they'll save you time.
If you want to lift weights, you can workout in an interval style too. Lift fast with very little rest between your exercises and do a few different exercises back to back in circuits. Then you can take a breather for a minute or two and then start the circuit over again.
How To Check Your Body Fat Percentage
There are five methods you can use:
- DEXA Scans
- Hydrostatic weighing
- Bod Pod
- Body fat calipers
- Digital body fat scales and handhelds
Out of the five, the DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) Scan would be your most accurate choice. These are a bit more expensive and you'll have to have them done by a doctor. But they're painless and very accurate.
A cheaper and almost as accurate method would be Hydrostatic weighing. Sometimes a college will have them or your doctor might be able to do it for you. They weigh you once normally and then weigh you, after you exhale all your air, as you sit immersed in water. Fat is more buoyant that muscle, so the fatter you are, the less you'll weigh in water.
You could also use a Bod Pod, which uses Air Displacement Plethysmography, to figure out your body fat percentage. They're not quite as accurate as the first two methods but will cost you around the same amount as hydrostatic weighing.
Another good way of finding out your body fat percentage is to have someone at your gym use body fat calipers on you. You'll want to have someone who has done it before, so that they can give you accurate results. You'll also want to try to have the same person do it for you each time to accurately gauge your progress. They'll pinch your skin at different places on your body with the calipers and be able to calculate pretty well where you're at in terms of your body fat percentage.
You could take the easy route and buy a scale that has body fat sensors, you can even get a handheld one, but these aren't as accurate. They send a current through your body and since muscle is a better conductor than fat, it can calculate it by that. The problem I see is that I'm not so sure the current will go the whole way through your body. The handheld ones might only show your upper body's body fat percentage and the scales your lower body. I'm not sure if this is completely true, but I'd think it'd take the shortest route down one arm and then back up the other. But one thing that does affect the readout on this is the amount of water you have in your body. These will still give you an idea of where your body fat % is at; it's just not as accurate.
So stop overtraining your abs, they get worked plenty by other exercises you do in the gym anyway. Watch what you eat, be more active and get your body fat percentage lower and you'll be on your way to showing off your abs.