Sorry, I’m not talking about beer. I’m talking abs of steel with the definition to prove it. This, for some people, is seen as the ultimate in health and fitness. Men’s Health magazine terms it the “blue ribbon in weight room achievement”. Well, it’s not. And here’s why.
The six-pack muscles are the Rectus Abdominis, the most superficial – physiologically and functionally – of the abdominal muscles. They are responsible for flexing the trunk of the body (folding the upper part of you forwards towards the bottom part of you), and that’s it. It is the other, deeper abdominal muscles which provide your core stability, take care of your posture and spine, and improve your mobility, breathing and digestion.
Doing exercises that simply focus on the six-pack is neglecting the core; you can have a six-pack and a weak core at the same time. This is neither healthy nor helpful, creating muscle imbalances that can mess with posture and create neck and shoulder issues.
For most body types to show a six-pack it requires being ‘ripped’ or stripping the body fat. For most men to show a six-pack the body fat percentage need to sit between six and nine percent and for most women the range is approximately 16 to 19 percent. The healthy range for body fat for men is 15-20% and women 20-25%. We need a certain amount of fat in our body for our internal organs, vitamin and mineral absorption and storage. Stripping back too much can reduce our health and for women, mess with the menstrual cycle.
Achieving and maintaining this low body fat can create other issues. Would it require you being ‘hangry’ all the time? Do you want to count every calorie, ensure you eat certain foods at certain times, and, absolutely ditch all alcohol? This obsession can have a flow on effect to social life, mental health issues and over-training.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am 100% for being active and healthy; I am after all a pilates and yoga teacher! I can’t encourage enough people, often enough, to strengthen their core and eat a balanced diet. I’m simply dispelling the myth that a six-pack is synonymous with health and strength and the ultimate goal. You can be strong and healthy without a six-pack, and you can be strong and healthy with it. If you want to know more about the core and the muscles you need to work visit aloka.com.au.