Craving A Six-Pack? What Should You Be Aiming For?
If your abs are somewhat hidden, you may need to reduce your body fat to show off a six-pack to be proud of.
Six-pack abs have become one of the defining features of a person who is deemed to be in great shape. We all have abdominal muscles of course, but those that are visibly on display tend to highlight the fitness of the individual, proving that they’re both strong and lean. If you’ve been struggling to produce that chiselled torso that so many crave, it could be down to your percentage of body fat. So, how much body fat do you need to allow those abdominals to shine?
What Is Body Fat?
When you step on the scales, the number you’re looking at is your overall weight which of course includes fat, muscle, water and bone mass. Body fat is just one of these measurements and the way in which it is stored and distributed across the body can make all the difference to your abs.
Body fat can be divided into two categories, namely essential fat and storage fat. Essential fat assists in vital physical functions including keeping you warm, maintaining hormonal balance and protecting your organs from damage. Storage fat is the type that you’ll see distributed across your body and it is this that many people wish to minimise to gain that six-pack stomach or even drop a dress size.
Losing Body Fat
Working out regularly is certainly part of developing a toned and sculpted torso. But unfortunately, you could do hundreds of crunches a day and it wouldn’t make any difference to your abs if they’re covered in a thick layer of body fat. Therefore, crunches and other fitness work such as cardio is best carried out in combination with eating a clean and healthy diet. Your physical efforts can also be supported by mental techniques such as gastric band hypnosis to motivate you towards achieving your fitness goals.
What Percentage To Aim For?
The first thing to note, is that body fat is handled very differently on men and women. Men with between 6-17% body fat should have noticeable abs on display, whereas the range for women is more like 14-24%. At the upper end of each scale, your abs may be visible, but as you cut your body fat lower, you’ll notice them becoming leaner and more sculpted, perhaps creating more defined oblique muscles along the way.
It’s important to realise that there is no set percentage to aim for, as each individual will store body fat differently. If you tend to store your excess weight around your stomach, then you may need to get to a lower percentage of body fat in order to achieve those killer abs you’ve been dreaming of.
Don’t Go Too Low
Remember that body fat is essential and if you lose too much of it, this can have a negative impact on your overall health. For women this could mean the absence of a menstrual cycle, and for both sexes, too little body fat can cause brittle bones.
Stay within a safe range and lose the fat gradually – a rate of around 1% every 1-2 months should be fine for most people.