The pressure for abs
How many times on a newsagent’s magazine shelf have you seen magazines touting the dream of ‘getting beach ready’ or ‘see your abs in X weeks’. For the most part this is utter crap, in my opinion, unless you are starting from a very advanced stage of fitness. The press, as with size zero models, is creating an unnecessary pressure, certainly among younger people, where if they don't have a six pack or conform to a certain build they are somehow lacking; body dysmorphia is a very real thing now. The last time I recall seeing my ‘abs’ was probably when I was 14. When I cycled everywhere and before I discovered the joys of driving or fast food and going to the pub.
I wrote in my blog about change and how I have not always been as healthy as I am now. I didn't watch what I ate and did very little exercise (little is none really!), as I do now; and that is not just because I am now a personal trainer! After all, I still love cake, I can demolish a large pizza on my own and I like a drink or two.
For me, now, it’s about balance and being happy that I do not ache as much as I used to and I can cycle or hike a good distance without coughing up a lung. It's about living life.
Could we all get to see our abs?
Absolutely, we all could. Personally I’m not sure, however, seeing my abs would add any material difference to my life, my looks, my confidence or my ability to ride my bike or hike for miles and miles, which for the most part I am usually fully dressed!
The majority of the populations' focus should be on all round core stability – which are the group of muscles, including the 'six pack' abs, of the transverse abdominis, external and internal obliques.
The names are not necessarily important, just to know this group of muscles form the natural corset that keeps us stable in the middle and protects the back; the real core. Sadly, also, many people spend so much time sitting, generally poorly, that the abs shorten so training them will only serve to shorten them further. Its not that the abs should not be trained but should be targeted in conjunction with the whole 'trunk' with planks, crawls, and movements that challenge them indirectly.
My recommendation would be that unless you:
- Are already very healthy,
- Already have very low body fat,
- Can stick to a healthy, and generally boring, diet plan for weeks on end,
- Spend more than two weeks of the year with your top off,
you are better off spending your time on training the real core with a balanced plan that focuses on long term goals. Then if you enjoy cake you can still have a piece every now and again without any guilt!