by Neil Anderson
Q: "Can EVERYBODY get 6 pack abs?"
A: Not everyone. Most can. Problem is, you might have to make yourself pretty sick to do it. The ill effects of doing this may last forever. It might be best to just get ripped and capable (optimally healthy) and learn to live with what that looks like, instead of pushing yourself to place that is hard to return from. Consider this story.
A client of mine had amazing abs. Not the blocky six-pack that we all dream of, but incredible nonetheless. Hers were perfect. She had been working out for years and had an incredibly sculpted body. She already had lines everywhere, especially on her abs - two down the sides, one in the middle and even the coveted inguinal crease (V-shaped lines starting at the hips leading down "to paradise"). Like I said, AMAZING.
One day she became convinced that she needed a six-pack. She simply couldn't be talked out of it. She had heard (rightly) from a bodybuilding friend of hers, that most of us can achieve this if we take ourselves to very low body fat levels. Being an extremely disciplined person, she knew she could get her body fat levels into the basement. So off she went.
Her diet became impeccable (according to those who were mentoring her - remember, I thought it was stupid. I wasn't about to help her). Her calories - very low, but sustainable, even with her increased exercise levels (she was doing 3-4 miles of running daily, on top of her daily workouts with me). And within a few weeks her abs really started to pop! But that's when the problems started.
She started to become very ill. Colds, flus, infections, even mono! Then, she became the walking injured. Seems like she had something new pop up every week that stopped her from really charging her workouts fully. Then, the hormones got out of whack. This caused sleep problems, extra stress and even depression. All of these at a level that will impact EVERY aspect of your life (marriage, kids, friends & etc.) None of which, she'd ever had problems with prior. Not clinically, like she had now.
Eventually, my friend got her six-pack! But, here is the thing ... most of the bad stuff stuck with her for life. Even today (nearly 10 yrs. later) she struggles with clinical depression and sleep disorders. This adds stress to her life that is hard to quantify. That is, unless you use her weight to do so. Soon after (within 8 months), she ballooned up 70 lbs over her previous healthy weight (which I thought was PERFECT to begin with). She's never looked or felt the same since.
"Can EVERYBODY get six-pack abs?" Probably. Is it worth it? Who knows - you might be one of the lucky ones. You might be that person who has no trouble at all getting to a six pack without adversity and will enjoy every minute of walking around showing them off. God bless you if you are. As for the rest of us, heed this as a cautionary tale. Maybe you can get them. Maybe you can't. More importantly, if you have done all you need to be healthy - maybe you shouldn't try.