Why YOU Don't Have Six Pack Abs
When it comes to getting six pack abs the vast majority of gym-goers have it set in their mind that they can't possibly get shredded abs.
They don't have the genetics, they store all of their fat over their abs unlike those fitness models you see adorning the cover of Men's Health & Fitness.
Hell, I used to be one of these guys.
Before I joined the gym and actually wanted to build some muscle I spent about a year performing a variety of different ab exercises at home.
My plan was simple. I'd train my abs every second day, alternating between a couple of different ab workout videos on YouTube and I'd eliminate fast food from my diet (I was hardly eating any at the time but I deemed this to be a necessary step).
About a year later my non-existence abs hadn't changed.
Thousands upon thousands of sit-ups and planks later and I couldn't see a thing.
I didn't understand that training abs won't get you abs, it comes down to not only bodyfat (I was around 17% at the time), but a number of other factors too.
Below you'll find 4 key reasons why you don't have six pack abs, along with how to change this.
1. You're Retaining Too Much Water
As you begin to drop down towards the single digit body fat mark water retention begins to play a bigger factor in just how good your physique looks.
Someone with minimal water retention and 12% body fat WILL look significantly leaner than someone sitting around 9-10% body fat with a reasonable amount of water retention.
Single digit body fat with minimal water retention will make your physique look jawdropping.
We know that reducing body fat is a game of calories in vs. calories out (ensuring you're in a caloric deficit through a combination of dieting and cardio) but when it comes to reducing water retention guys get confused.
Experts try and make reducing water retention a hell of a lot harder than it actually is!
All I recommend doing is:
Reduce your carbohydrate intake slightly (water binds to carbohydrate molecules)
Reduce your sodium intake
Supplement with dandelion root extract, a natural & inexpensive diuretic
Dandelion is a natural diuretic that’s often used to decrease water retention; I first discovered dandelion root extract capsules upon recommendation by a fellow gym-goer as a way to drop that last bit of water weight and bloating before a photoshoot. After seeing fantastic results taking 3 capsules per day I decided to start taking it year round – my physique now remains relatively ‘dry’ year round as a result.
Not only will dandelion root make your physique look better, but the diuretic properties of this supplement will assist in reducing excess water weight in your face. An increase in jawline and cheekbone definition are a result of this.
There’s other (expensive) and dangerous diuretics out there that I haven’t and won’t touch because dandelion root works perfectly.
You can pick up the NOW branded dandelion root extract I use here.
2. Your Body Fat Levels Are Too High
Here's the hard truth - you need to get your body fat down to around 10% before you'll have what I consider to be six pack abs.
You'll likely have the outline of abs, or perhaps an upper two or four pack... but you need to get your body fat levels relatively low for those lower abs to begin to pop.
You can reduce your water retention, perform hours and hours of ab exercises and cardio but it's not until you get your body fat down that you'll begin to see your abs in regular lighting (under the correct down lighting you'll see the outline of your abs a little earlier).
If you're 20% or 30% body fat don't get discouraged by this.
Use it as motivation.
Regularly measure your body fat levels utilizing a caliper, and just know as you begin to see your body fat levels regularly drop you'll be getting that much closer to six pack abs.
Six pack abs and discipline go hand in hand.
3. You're Not In A Caloric Deficit
As we established above, single digit body fat is one of the primary keys to revealing those six pack abs of yours.
When it comes to reducing body fat fitness magazines and personal trainers will tell you that you need to perform a wide array of different cardio circuits, lifting exercises and supplement with a variety of different products that have a complicated list of ingredients.
That's all BS.
The #1 key, the only thing that truly matters when it comes to losing fat is ensuring your body is placed in a calorie deficit.
In simple terms this means we are ensuring your body is burning more calories each day than you are consuming.
Sure, if you want to eat a little more you'll likely need to create this deficit by burning more calories via cardio etc. but let it be known you can 100% place your body in a calorie deficit via dieting alone.
Weight loss = consuming fewer calories than your body requires to maintain its current condition on a 24 hour basis (calorie deficit)
Weight gain = consuming more calories than your body requires to maintain its current conditoning on a 24 hour basis (calorie surplus)
If you do not currently have abs and your body is in a caloric surplus you're getting further and further away from your goal.
4. You're Performing Ineffective Ab Exercises
When we think of ab exercises without a doubt the first one that comes to mind is the sit-up, this is also one of the worst ab exercises out there.
You'll find the sit-up only really works the upper abdominals while placing a large amount of stress on the lower back.
You don't NEED to perform ab exercises to get abs (as we've established this comes down to your body fat percentage) but training your abs regularly will make them somewhat more defined (deeper lines etc.).
We want to be performing ab exercises that don't place excessive stress on the lower back while also working the entire abdominal region.
There's no need to hit upper ab exercises and lower ab exercises, I recommend performing variations of the #1 ab exercise that works the entire abdominal region - the leg raise.
You can check out my entire guide to hanging leg raise progressions here.
Once you've mastered the hanging leg raise it's time to implement Bruce Lee's advanced ab exercise of choice... the Dragon Flag.