6 pack abs are massively overrated!

Whilst my current body condition can be described as “someone who lifts weights, but someone who also likes pizza”, believe it or not I have had 6 pack abs a couple of times before. Once I received this badge of honour and reached my goal, I was filled with nothing but disappointment and hunger… Shortly followed by lots of carbs. It seems that the pinnacle of health and fitness is how lean your mid region can become. The single measure of success is “do you have a 6 pack?” and it’s absolute bollocks.

Being lean does not mean you’re healthy

When you picture a ‘healthy’ person you instantly imagine a lean, slim individual with visible abs. This is partly due to the media and the content we consume on a daily basis through social media and heavily airbrushed photoshoots. In reality, this has no indication being ‘healthy’ and there are many more factors at play, such as cardiovascular health, your relationship with food and your energy levels.

We often only see the benefits of being lean and see these extremely happy individuals eating salads on adverts, but nobody ever talks about the trade offs and the cost of being lean. Whilst you cannot argue with the health benefits of being a sensible weight, there are negative effects of being extremely lean. There will be loss of sex drive, lower testosterone (men), potential loss of periods (women), potential risk of disordered eating and isolation from social events. Whilst these effects are only going to apply to very lean (lower than 6-7% body fat), they are going to occur on a sliding scale down to that level of leanness.

Nobody cares

If you are trying to achieve 6 pack abs for someone else’s opinion or to get more dates, please stop now. Nobody cares if you have abs. Nope. Nobody!

I started lifting weights because I thought it would mean more girls. It didn’t. It just meant more blokes would ask “how much do you bench bro?” People don’t care how lean you are or how much you bench, and if they do, they are probably a bit of dick.

If you are trying to achieve 6 pack abs for yourself or as part of a goal, then that’s fine. Just make sure you understand the reason ‘why’ you want that goal. It’s going to be very tough at times and if you don’t have a solid answer to that question, it isn’t happening.

It is not going to make you happier

Your happiness and wellbeing is not directly linked to your body fat percentage, to a certain degree. I do believe that being a healthy weight and certain level of fitness can bring a confidence and an amount of happiness. But that doesn’t mean more is always better.

I like to think of this being very similar to money. Studies have shown that your happiness is linked to the amount of money you earn, but only up to a certain point. More money doesn’t mean more happiness and this is the same for how lean you are.

Get to a point that you feel confident and comfortable with your body, but don’t feel the pressure to keep going just for the sake of it. Maintaining a good physique is still progress and is a very respectable goal.

It is a lot harder than most people realise  

Becoming 6 pack lean is an impressive feat of patience and determination and is a LOT harder than most people realise. When I have clients come into the gym, we talk through their goals in detail. If someone tells me they want to be very lean I tell them to double the time scale. It takes a long time to get incredibly lean

We are all fatter than we realise. This isn’t a dig, this is just a matter of fact. I often have clients tell me once they lose 5 lbs we will be able to see their abs. 10 lbs later and still no sign. If getting very lean is a goal, accept that it is going to be tough, take a long time and require a lot of sacrifices.  

Pizza is delicious

Food glorious food! Abs aren’t going to make you happy, but food definitely is. If you want to be very lean, you are going to be making sacrifices with food, social situations and alcohol most of the time. On the rare occasions that I have become leaner, the thoughts of  food consume me. All I can think about is tasty food, how I am missing out and it makes me miserable. In my opinion, food is better than being lean. I would  prefer to be a little bit more ‘fluffy’ and still enjoy food, social situations and a few beers.  

The next time you have a mid-life crisis and declare you are going  to get a 6 pack, make sure you are doing it for the right reasons, and you fully appreciate the trade offs and the cost of being that lean. If you want to get 6 pack lean then that’s brilliant. If you don’t want to get a 6 pack, then that’s also brilliant.  

If you want help with your fitness goals, you should get in touch today. I offer 1 to 1 and online personal training services that can be tailored to your individual goals and needs.