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How do I get 6 pack abs?

At CrossFit LifeTree the majority of people who join do so because they want to lose weight, get stronger and have fun doing it. Occasionally I have someone say they want six pack abs again and inevitably the next words out of their mouth is “Is that possible for me?” My response is always the same ….. ‘You already have one!”

The muscle that we call the 6 pack is the rectus abdominis and can be rolled up and placed in the palm of your hand. It can be strengthened by doing sit-ups. The visibility is not based on the size of the muscle but how thick the layer of body fat that is covering it is. Making your six pack bigger by doing more sit ups will not expose it to the world to see. The only way to reveal your abs is to reduce body fat and that primarily comes from a change in your nutritional habits. 

Your body composition will change naturally through the following steps:

  1. Building more muscle mass through regular training. 
  2. Eating a diet of whole foods. 
  3. Keeping a consistent eating schedule.
  4. Learning  the correct quantities to maintain your optimum performance.

At CFLT we focus on improving the way your body moves which in turn improves the way it looks. Most diet and exercise programs have our philosophy reversed and this can lead to short term results and disordered eating. 

While developing core strength is a very important component of our programming at CFLT it does not involve a lot of sit ups. We want to make sure you don’t just look good on the beach (although there is nothing wrong with wanting that), but more importantly, you are strong enough to pick up a child and run down to the water giggling and laughing all the way. There is not a movement you will do at our gym that will not involve bracing and engaging the core muscles which you will be reminded constantly to do.

The other factor in the equation in revealing your 6 pack is genetics. We are all uniquely designed to store fat in certain areas of our bodies and this cannot be changed. You cannot do 100 leg raises a day to get skinny thighs or 100 sit ups a day and tone your stomach. When you change your diet to optimize performance you will decrease body fat but it will be from the last place you gained body fat. 

So what can you do? 

Focus on performance and nutrition. Come to your sessions, do your best, measure your performance and try to improve each time. Share your results so that you can be held accountable. If you know what you need to do nutritionally but can’t seem to do it, get a coach and spend 6 months learning how to change your habits. Depending on your genetics you will see some muscles you could not before and more importantly you will look and feel amazing. 


Coach Tracey