“How do I get abs?”

In today’s post,, I’m gonna give you real talk on getting abs.

Having six pack abs — and muscle definition more broadly — is mostly a function of how lean someone is. This means abs are best created by getting leaner and not necessarily by doing lots of direct ab exercises.

Certainly building larger muscles will create more shape, even when obscured by bodyfat; think of a bowling ball under a mattress vs a marble under a mattress. But ultimately, the thinner the layer of fat, the more “definition” one will have; think of a bowling ball under a bedsheet vs a bowling ball under a mattress.

And how do we reduce body fat? As long time readers know… mostly diet! Specifically, reducing your calories to the point where your body will lose weight. For optimal results, one should keep protein adequately high and lift weights to encourage a higher percentage of fat vs muscle lost in this process.

Now here’s the annoying part. You can’t create “spot specific reduction.” This means we can’t choose specific parts of the body to burn fat. This feels SUPER counter-intuitive. After all, when we’re doing lots of crunches and feeling the underlying muscles burning, it feels like we’re burning fat in that same area. But alas, fat loss is a global affair.

Also of note: the body decides its own order of where fat is lost as we lose weight. So most humans have relatively “stubborn” areas that are harder to lose, as we tend to lose fat in the reverse order of where we gain it.

Is it possible for anyone who puts in enough effort to get a six pack? At least in theory, yes. But in practice, maybe not. It’s a true and unfair fact of life that genetics play a massive role here. Due to all sorts of factors (fat storage patterns, muscle belly size, speed of metabolism, skin tone, training age, biological age, hormone status, etc.), some people will have an easier or harder time.

But now we get to the philosophical question: Is it worth the effort? 

Well, that depends on your personal values! 

Listen, there’s nothing wrong with pursuing an aesthetic goal. You’re in charge of your life. While I’ll usually encourage you to focus on the mental, emotional, and physical benefits of fitness, I understand the appeal of this kind of goal. And with the right framing, this pursuit can indeed be an act of self-love. It can be as enjoyable as any autonomously- chosen quest for a difficult-to-achieve but personally meaningful goal.

However, with the exception of genetically gifted humans mostly in their 20’s, most people are going to have to put in a LOT of work to get razor sharp abs. And since life has constraints of time, energy, and effort, this outcome may not come with the rewards to justify the cost.

Are having abs worth all the personal and professional sacrifices?

While only you can answer that, I will say this; I’ve seen people’s lives completely change by adopting a fitness habit and losing enough weight to improve their blood work, reduce symptoms of disease, get off medications, have more energy and confidence, etc. etc.

On the other hand, I’ve never met someone who’s life was meaningfully changed by getting lean enough to have abs. 

For the best infographic EVER, please check out this article HERE about the true cost of getting staying cover model lean.

Hit me back if you have any more questions!

Butterfly kisses on your forehead,

Mark

PS Want to make some fitness magic with your ol’ pals at MFF?

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