Six pack: the contradicting nature of chiseled abs

People say a six-pack is ugly until they get their own. Abs have a special place in fitness: they put a proud owner in that select group of human beings unafraid to take their shirt off anytime and without a special reason.  If a round booty is the queen of fitness pictures, a six pack is definitely the king. Abs have been photographed in various light and angles millions of times and gladly shared with the whole world for admiration.

The discipline and the sacrifice it takes to get a six pack leave you with no other options than to adore and to loathe it at the same time. You adore your six pack as a testament to your hard work. It impresses others and it feels good to touch. You loathe your six pack as it kind of runs your life. It is your little master that tells you what to do and what to eat.

Now: even if only some people experienced their own six pack,  most of us check abs in the morning or after a workout. We pray to the abs gods secretly or openly, hoping one day we can put the hands on our belly and feel that the layer of clothes is unneeded in that area.

And if abs could have one word to describe them, it would be “contradictory”. Abs are like a high maintenance girlfriend. They take forever to get ready before they show up. And they leave the minute you don’t fulfill all the requirements. Abs will tell you they need lots of veggies to stay lean, and then they will get pissed off at you because they got bloated from all the fiber. They will make you feel like a winner at times and then point you to hundreds of others who got it much better than you. Three contradictions below outline the unstable relationships with abs you are bound to have if a six pack ever becomes your goal.

1. You cannot get abs in one day, but you surely can lose abs in one day.

It takes months of disciplined lifestyle and diet to start seeing the results on the abdominals. Yet, THIS viral video shows, your physique can be transformed backward in a matter of 5 hours! The abs become visible because of the layer of skin on the stomach is thin.

Here’s the trick:

To thicken this layer in a matter of hours, it takes some chips, carbonated drinks, and milk (in any order).    Any competing athlete can tell you about the super compensation they experience after a show. The body absorbs and holds on to everything you eat. And your abs depart quietly and uneventfully.

2. You cannot lose fat on abs only, but you seem to gain weight locally.

Despite the abundance of waist shapers, fat melters, love handlers, and magic pills, slimming of a body happens evenly. It’s just some areas of our body do not have much fat to start with,  like your fingers. And other areas have the muscle structure such that thinning of the fat layer does not make a big visible difference.

Here’s what it means:

Imagine losing 1/5 inch both on your stomach and on your hips. The muscle structure on the stomach is more elaborate and will become more visible. At the same time, the fat loss on your hips will show primarily in the volume. In fact, showing fibers on the leg muscles is a domain of the bodybuilders with single digit body fat.

Same works in reverse. If more fat is added to your body, the difference on the abs will be more visible. Hence, the appearance that you gained weight locally.

3. You cannot get abs by only training abs, but you can get abs by NOT training them.

As we described earlier, abs are the product of your diet. Out-exercising a bad diet is a strategy that might work when you 19, but definitely impossible to rely on. Let’s leave aside those mysterious creatures with rocking six-packs that can eat a burger and fries and go straight to a swimsuit photo shoot. Many people with beautiful abs would tell you that they do not train abs at all.

How so?

Performed properly, most of the exercises engage abs. Moreover, certain oblique exercises are not desirable at all because they will make you appear more square. And even holding your abs in all day can have more benefits than rushing through 100 crunches in a HIIT class.

Contradicting nature of abs

At the end of the day, why are we so hung up on getting a set of flat abs? Our stomach is the area where we feel fear and uncertainty. Maybe tightening it is the way of making ourselves feel more protected, and displaying it – more invincible. For the sake of feeling more confident, working on your abs is a goal worth all the trouble. But be prepared to learn.

Let go of an idea that once you got a six pack, it is yours forever. Let go of the thought that wrapping your waste in plastic will trim your waist while you get to keep the curves.  Stop believing that 200 crunches will cut it for you. Train abs to build the muscle structure and eat right to stay lean. Understand your abs like you want to understand your partner, and, hopefully, one day the contradictory abs will not be so contradictory anymore.

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