Yes I’m talking about the six pack, what did you think I meant cheeky?! If you’re a gym bunny you’ll know that the female six pack is pretty much the holy grail and, if you get one, you’ll be able to rock a bin bag let alone a teeny pair of cut off shorts. So, how do I get me one of those I hear you ask?
First things first, you have to be really determined and prepared to work your backside off for months and months; a defined tummy is not a goal for the faint hearted and it’s a big fitness commitment. Secondly, the older you are, the more difficult it will be (sorry) as women tend to carry more fat around their midriff as they approach and go through menopause.
If you’re still determined this is what you need to know:
- You cannot crunch your way to a six pack. If you have a lot of fat around your tummy area you can certainly exercise your way to better core strength and you will be able to build muscle but, unless you change your eating habits to lose the fat, it will stay hidden and you will still have a family pack rather than a six pack.
- You will need to reduce down your body fat to around 16-18% in order to get definition but if you want the really sculpted look you’ll need to go down as low as 10 or 12%. Trust me, that’s not a lot for a woman! This will give you an idea:
If you still haven’t given up on the idea I really admire your tenacity! So, what are we talking about here:
- Your diet will need to be a permanent juggling act as you will need to eat enough to give your body the fuel that it needs to be able to build muscle but you will need to keep your calories low enough that you will burn fat. That means a combination of natural carbs and protein: very lean meat, fish, whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans. Refined sugars and carbs will be a no no so you’ll need to cut out all junk and processed foods, white bread and rice etc etc. [Nb that’s pretty much my diet and I don’t have a 6 pack]
- Losing fat through diet i.e. ingesting less calories is not an exact science as it depends on many factors such as body type, muscle mass and activity levels but, as a rule of thumb, if you burn around 3,500 calories, you’ll lose about a pound of fat. That means, to lose a pound each week, you’ll need to reduce your calorie intake by around 500 a day.
- At the same time as cutting your calorie intake, you’ll need to up your activity levels. Workouts should be a balance between cardio, weights and exercise designed to build core strength such as Pilates. Cardio means running, walking, swimming, biking – effectively any exercise that raises your heart rate and gets you sweating. Working out with weights will grow muscle and the larger and stronger the muscles, the more fat you will burn.[Nb. I walk 25km per week on average and I’m doing cardio and weights in the gym at least twice a week and I don’t have a 6 pack]
- Next, comes core strength. You will need to include exercises which specifically target your abs and obliques in order to get real definition. Pilates is brilliant for this as building core strength by using your own body weight is a fundamental part of the exercises! Abs are the muscles that run down the centre of the stomach and obliques are those down the side and you have to work both. Shown below are a couple of exercises for abs on the left and obliques on the right. Personally I find abs exercises far easier than obliques but everyone is different. [Nb I do 2 hours of Pilates each week and I don’t have a 6 pack]
Yes, top left picture is me; you can’t see me gritting my teeth. My Pilates instructor said “yes, that’s it perfect! Just stay like that while I find my phone and I’ll take a picture”. A couple of minutes in that position and your abs definitely know that they’ve been worked so I was cursing her by the time she took the shot :o)
That’s pretty much it; a strict diet and bucket loads of exercise for months and you too can have a 6 pack. Simples!
Ps. Why don’t I have a bloody six pack?! Oh yes, I like a glass of wine in the evening and there’s only so many things that I’ll trade for a washboard stomach ;O) x