4 Reasons you Can’t Get Those Six-Pack Abs from Sara Haley
So, you’ve planned a healthy diet, found the right exercises and are looking forward to seeing your hard-earned six-pack abs in the mirror. The problem is, you’re not quite seeing the results you want. Well, there’s a bit more to it than that.
All humans are born with six-pack abs, but for most people, they’re hiding behind a layer of abdominal fat. Being able to see your six-pack muscles only indicates that you have a low body fat percentage. Working your six-pack muscles with specific exercises will help build them to be bigger and more defined, but other factors influence how well they are seen.
Here are four reasons you may not be seeing your six-pack as well as you’d like:
- Your body fat isn’t low enough. Just because you don’t have six-pack abs doesn’t mean you aren’t strong or fit. It might just mean that your body fat isn’t low enough. Focusing on your calorie intake and making sure you’re eating a balanced diet and not overconsuming unnecessary calories is a good first step to take. You can also consider squeezing a few extra workouts into your week to increase your body’s calorie burn. HIIT training is great for burning off the extra pounds while maintaining your muscle mass.
- You’re retaining water. This is often because you’re eating too much sugar, salt or both. Salt causes your body to retain water, especially around the belly. Similarly, sugar can also increase belly fat and encourage water retention.
- You’re doing the wrong kind of exercises. Crunches are not your solution to six-pack abs. In fact, they can often make things worse, especially if you’ve had a baby. You may be doing the wrong exercise if you can see a noticeable separation of the muscle called the linea alba or if you feel like your posture is off kilter and your tummy pokes forward. It’s a sign you may be imbalanced and need to ease off the rectus abdominal work and focus on the transverse abdominals with these exercises.
- Your hormones are off. As a pre and postnatal exercise specialist, I often hear from new moms that they’re disappointed about not being able to get their abs back. There are a lot of hormones that linger after pregnancy, especially when you’re breastfeeding. And even if you haven’t had a baby, many factors can lead to hormone imbalance – sleep, stress, medications, etc. However, it’s not just a female issue. Men can also have a hormone imbalance that can cause fat retention and affect how well their six-pack is seen. There are a few natural ways to boost growth hormone (GH) levels in your body which naturally decline as we age. Getting enough sleep, exercising and consuming a well-balanced diet are great places to start. For managing your cortisol levels, using stress-reduction techniques such as meditation, breathing exercises and yoga are all good strategies to consider.
Doing a comprehensive, well-rounded exercise routine that effectively burns fat, strengthens your muscles and works the core is an efficient way to help you see the results you want – especially if you’re looking to see your six-pack. But remember, spot reduction is a myth and your body parts don’t “own” the fat that covers them. So, doing all your ab workouts correctly is just a small part of getting a body you love. When you’re standing in front of the mirror, take a second to be proud of your work from the inside out.