Six-Pack Abs--the Myth, the Legend

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How hardcore is your core?

Many people sign up for pilates class because they hear that it’s great for strengthening the “core”.  I teach pilates for a living, so fortunately for me that's very true.  But can you really get that elusive six pack from doing pilates? 

Sure anything is possible.  It is also possible to be very strong in your abs but a layer of adipose (fat) covers your hard work.  Nutrition plays a key role in uncovering that definition.    It’s no secret that you need to eat a sensible diet that emphasizes vegetables and good quality proteins, and is void of processed sugar and additives.  However, six pack abs do not appear until body fat percentage is very, very low.  I don’t know about you, but I love to eat!  I think it’s always good to reach for your goals.   But remember that your children take cues from you for a healthy body image, and extreme dieting, such as for fitness competition, is not the healthiest approach. 

Focus on balance

The great news is that you can focus on exercises that create more definition and shape.  Standard crunches from the floor are not very effective for toning because they target mostly the surface rectus abdominus muscle group.  Instead, target the deeper obliques (internal and external oblique) for a streamlined midsection.  In addition, incorporate dynamic stability exercises, such as pilates, for overall toning and muscle balance.  An example of a stability exercise that works the obliques is the roller exercise shown below.  As a bonus this move may relieve your back pain from daily sitting.

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A: Lie longways on the roller with feet together and hands off the floor.  Remember to breathe deeply.

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B: Lift opposite arm and leg as shown to challenge your balance.

Remember, 6 pack abs may look great in a magazine, but darling, you are perfect the way you are.


Stephanie Vanderbeck is owner of Purely Pilates Center in Southlake, TX.  For more pilates inspiration visit southlakepilates.com. Find her on social media @purely.pilates.

This article was feature in the October issue of Beyond the Bridge & Hidden Lakes Legacy.

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