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So what about the six-pack? Is it attainable? Can anyone get it?
Although possible, most experts say it's rare.
"Six-pack abs is really a pre-cellulite phenomenon. It tends to be reserved for those in their teens and 20s," says Cotton. "It gets more difficult as we age because we get more subcutaneous body fat." However, with the right genetics and strict program, even people in their 30s and 40s can have six-pack abs.
Genetically, women have a disadvantage when it comes to that. Their bodies store more fat than men. For good reason, says Calabrese. Women's bodies are designed to bear and nourish babies and fat is the primary energy source to support fetal development. In addition, Calabrese says, men generally lose weight quicker as a result of regular exercise.
For women to lower body fat enough to have a six-pack, says Cotton, "that might even interrupt their menstrual cycle."
That's why (Dr.) Cotton doesn't encourage such extreme goals.
"I personally think it's on the order of ridiculous," he says. "If you're spending that much time on your abs, you're wasting time and taking time away from other muscle groups. It's a show muscle.
The leanest athletes typically compete at levels of about 5-8% for men, however it is 10-15% for women. Bodybuilders will often compete at ranges even lower than these levels. Certified personal trainers will suggest to male bodybuilders that they should aim for a body fat percentage between 2-4% by contest time. Getting to this level usually requires a carefully planned and implemented exercise program, specific and carefully monitored variations in fluid consumption, energy intake and macronutrient ratios, sodium and potassium, and sometimes also use of ointments and alcohol. Because joints and organs have an inadequate amount of protective fat at the low ends of this range, it can be dangerous to maintain this state for more than a few days or a few hours.
I'm constantly boggled by the number of women today who want to have 6 pack abs, a condition that requires an EXTREMELY low body fat percentage. Please, just aim for health. Hell, even for most men a 6 pack is an extreme undertaking. The media is brainwashing women into thinking that they need this. Who started this stupid fad? Janet Jackson? Ridiculous.
Original Post by vicereine:
If a woman wants a 6 pack then by all means she's allowed to, I don't think it's a 'fad' there are women who generally like being muscular and ripped. If the media is telling women anything, it's the opposite, be super skinny like celebrities and models.
Having a six-pack is more about low body fat than it is about being muscular. You can do crunches with weights non-stop and you will never have a six-pack without EXTREMELY LOW body fat. So the 6-pack fad goes hand in hand with skinny celebrities. It's the difference of being emaciated vs. being emaciated with a bit of muscle.
I think women who are professional athlets or dancers can have six-pack abs and maybe some others who are minority.
Anyway I like my tummy as it is, flat but feminine. I do lots of ab - exercises though, just to make sure my abs are strong enough, in oder to avoid back - pain during pregnancy.
Can't imagine myself with 6 pack abs...I am sure my fiancee wouldn't like it at all!
I have no problem with health nuts who want to focus on fitness, but 6-packs (to me) generally imply that the person has little interests outside of their appearance (due to the amount of time required to obtain and maintain a 6-pack).
My mom's 53 (maybe 52...can't remember) and she's got six pack abs. She also has a BFP of 9%. And...she works out 4 days a week lifting, but really does have time for her family her friends, her puppy and anything else she wants to do in life. Her abs aren't her life, but she's had them since she was in her 30's and just wants to keep them.
I am an overachiever, currently carrying around 12 pack abs :)
I think it is best to work on your overall health and mot to focus on a single body part.
Original Post by bodyscience:
I do understand what udokier is talking about, it is the unrealistic goals society puts on people. So I do understand the message. but i also agree with energy girl, we all aren't obsessing about it.
I didn't really disagree with your comments either, as they apply to bodybuilders. I think that the way bodybuilders go about getting their six packs is rather different than what a lot of girls put themselves through, and the risk of a serious bodybuilder being anorexic is lower, although obviously, the content of the food is strictly controlled. With non-bodybuilders, there is a risk of 1. starving to achieve the low bodyfat needed to get the 6-pack and 2. repeated disappointment at being unable to get that 1994 Janet Jackson 6-pack due to having normal healthy body fat levels.
As for men having 6-packs, I worry less about it since men can be healthy with significantly less bodyfat than women, but I would imagine that most women would be quite happy with a guy with a reasonably firm stomach, as opposed to really ripped abs.
But don't get me wrong, I totally respect bodybuilders both male and female, and bodybuilding itself as both sport and art. I wouldn't discourage anyone from going into it so long as they do so under the tutelage of experienced and knowledgeable people. As for me, a few exercises with dumbells to keep reasonably toned while on low calories is about all I'm up for what with 2 kids and a really busy work schedule...
Unless you are a genetic freak diet is at least 75% of the equation in acheiving a six pack. However, you can be extremely lean and not have a six pack. Anyone who has watched or participated in a marathon can attest to that. There are plenty of emaciated runners w/o six packs. Just like any other muscle, you have to build your abs. This means training them hard and letting the muscles recover. DO NOT train your Abs more than twice a week.
I never had a six pack until I got lean and trained my abs properly. I am not a genetic freak but was able to get ripped abs by eating and training properly.
Original Post by bodyscience:
most of the fitness models and female bodybuilders are short people with small frames, so having a lower body fat % isn't that bad for them.
Sorry, but I just don't understand your logic there. Your body fat percentage is always proportionate to the amount of lean mass you have right? So why would it be more acceptable for a short small framed women to have a lower body fat percentage than a tall large framed women? Yes, a tall large framed women would be allowed to carry more pounds of body fat than the short small framed women because she has more lean mass, but that shouldn't affect the actual body fat percentage. What does height and build have to do with it exactly? Dee
Original Post by vicereine:
I've never seen any media about women getting 6 packs...
What planet do you live on? I see magazine covers, album covers, ads and billboards displaying women with 6-pack abs EVERYWHERE, as that was the new norm of feminine beauty. The reason why so many women are suddenly aspiring to this ridiculous ideal is pretty obvious - it's being drilled into them by the mass media (which includes all the images I just mentioned - media isn't just news)
If women go into it INFORMED, understanding that these kind of abs will require insanely low body fat and a rather big commitment, and they still want to do it, then far be it from me to stop them, but it really seems that a lot of women are under the mistaken impression that these abs are an emblem of "health" on the women displaying them, and if they just exercise enough, do enough crunches, they'll get them too. But the truth is that they would have to do all the exercise AND severely restrict their diets to get them.
And what I really can't stand is people making out that the ideal body fat for women is in the teens, this is especially so in the fitness industry where the emphasis is all on being as lean as possible. I think it's fine if that's your perrogative, but these ideals shouldn't be pushed on people, much the same as Hollywood ideals of being size 0 shouldn't be pushed on people.
Everyone should feel comfortable in their own skin and not feel pressured to conform. As long as they are happy and healthy, this is what's important.