Ahhh the 6-pack.
Often chased, rarely captured.
I heard a stat the other day that you’re seven times more likely to win lotto than you are to get a 6-pack.
That's a pretty good way of looking at it, because for the most part, we think a 6-pack is easier to attain than perhaps the evidence suggests.
Today, I thought I’d talk more about just how hard it is to achieve a 6-pack (or even a toned stomach) and why you should think twice about setting this as your goal.
First, let's clarify that I have nothing against those that dedicate their life to health and fitness.
Im talking about the fitness models and bodybuilders that grace our instagram newsfeed, often wafting on about their magic protein shake or slimming tea that supposedly helped them achieve this incredible figure.
I have a lot of admiration for what these people do. When I say they dedicate their life to the cause, I ain’t joking.
When we get into just what it takes to get in this sort of shape, you'll see that it's an incredible life of discipline to achieve this sort of look.
To talk about what it takes to achieve a 6-pack, I want to set out what a standard day looks like for someone in peak physical condition.
6AM: Wake up after a 8-9 hour sleep in order to get 60-minutes of fasted cardio in.
7AM: Knock down a protein shake (got to hit those protein numbers)
7.05AM: Eat a breakfast that generally consists of fairly bland and boring whole foods.
9AM: Head to a job that is only an income to support their health and fitness lifestyle which includes buying supplements, fitness clothing and large quantities of food.
10AM: Eat another meal that is typically boring and lacking flavour.
11.30AM: Snack on some carrot sticks or nuts whilst thinking about their upcoming workout tonight in anticipation.
12PM: Try and deal with co-workers which is tough given your fluctuation in mood.
12.30PM: Eat another bland meal even though you don’t feel overly hungry.
1PM: Head to the toilet for the 5th time today given my 3L of water you’ve already consumed.
2PM: Take a few vitamins to help support your body.
3PM: Turn down the birthday cake offered by co-worker as it doesn’t fit your macronutrient goals (awkward).
4PM: Struggle through the last hour of work as motivation for anything other than training is 0%.
5PM: Fit in another bland meal.
6PM: Head to the gym for a weight training session for 90-minutes.
7.30PM: Another protein shake #protein-synthesis
8PM: Another bland meal to finish off the day.
8.30PM: In to bed early with no time for hobbies, family or friends as sleep is important for recovery.
Now although I’ve taken the mickey a little here, this is actually what most days look like for someone in great shape.
So I ask you, is this the type of lifestyle you want to live day in and day out for years, to achieve that incredible body you’ve always dreamed of?
My point is, if you want a body that is rarer than winning lotto seven times over, it takes a lifetime of sacrifice.
Here’s a list of sacrifices and changes that are needed to be the next Instagram Fitness model:
Nutrition needs to be pre-planned and prepared often in advance. This typicality means hours of meal prep on weekends. Foods typically consist of bland whole foods like vegetables, lean meat sources and basic carbohydrates like potato and rice.
All foods are tracked in order to achieve optimal calorie and macro intakes. This includes uploading food after every meal to a tracking app. This also means that any foods offered by others are often turned down.
Most people in great shape tend to eat 5-8 small meals a day. This can be time consuming and planning is needed to make sure meal timing is optimal.
Social events are often avoided as they don’t fit in with the nutritional needs of the individual. Social events that are attended can often be awkward and uncomfortable given the need to stay on a strict eating plan.
Sleep becomes a priority and a minimum of 8-9 hours are recommended each night. This means there are no sporadic nights out or late nights watching Netflix.
Often Training includes two sessions a day. One involves lifting weights for 60-90 minutes and one includes cardio of 45-90 minutes.
Work is generally put second which often leads to a lack of fulfilment in your work as fitness is prioritised.
If all this isn’t enough, its not uncommon to have a range of different side effects from low body fat.
These include mood swings, agitation and constantly feeling on edge or wired.
It's common for females to no longer have a period due to their body not functioning optimally enough to support giving birth.
Fluctuations in hormones is common in both males and females leading to bloating, skin conditions, digestive issues and lack of energy to name a few.
This is what it takes to be in 'Instagram worthy' shape.
So I ask you, are you prepared to suffer through sacrifice in order to achieve that 6-pack?
This is what it takes!
If you think you can knock over a bottle of wine on the weekend, pop into McDonalds after a long day and stay up late watching 'The Crown', then I’ve got a reality check for you.
“You ain’t even close to doing what’s required”.
Which leads me nicely into what is best for you?
I like to think of it like this, a 6-pack would be great. I don’t disagree.
But so would a Ferrari. Now the reason I don’t drive a Ferrari is because I’m not prepared to put in the work to learn how to create enough of an income to afford a Ferrari.
Just like there are many of you that like the idea of an incredible figure, are you really prepared to do what it takes? Probably not.
So let's be more practical about what we want and what is required to achieve it.
Maybe you goal should be to just drop a couple of pounds to fit into those jeans again.
Maybe it’s just to improve your energy levels to feel better throughout the day.
The point is, we should all have goals relative to where we are and what is required in our lives.
My goal currently is to build more muscle.
My two areas of sacrifice are finding time to training 6-days a week instead of 4, and to up my protein intake to help support building muscle.
That means I need to eat an additional meal throughout the day.
That is achievable to me and involves a level of sacrifice i'm happy to commit to.
So instead of some ridiculous goal like 6-pack abs whilst you work a full time job and raise a family, why not pick something that is actually meaningful to you, and achievable too!