For many people, those perfectly defined six-pack abs that you see in fitness magazines seem so close, yet so far away. It’s true that society and the media put a lot of pressure on people to have well-defined muscles, especially in the abdominal area, but it’s also true that many people who have great definition elsewhere struggle with their midsection.
Why is that?
Turns out, there are a few things that may be at fault here. Take a look at this list and see if there any habits you can change that might help give your abs better definition.
You’re not Targeting Your Core the Right Way
A lot of workouts claim to target your core muscles, and while they’ll certainly help, don’t overlook the importance of exercises which specifically target your abs.
At the gym, you‘ll hear people refer to “chest and back day,” “leg day,” and “biceps and triceps day,” but not many people refer to “abs day,” because people figure they’re working their abs with other exercises. Many workouts do help strengthen auxiliary muscles, some of which may be in your core, but remember that good old-fashioned crunches, sit-ups, bicycles, leg raises, and twists are targeted exercises meant to break down and strengthen your abdominals.
You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep
Not getting adequate sleep leads to increased stress. When the body is stressed, it releases cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. Cortisol can be harmful in many ways, but one of its more annoying side effects is that it impedes weight loss.
When your body is overstressed it goes into survival mode and holds onto body fat, particularly around your midsection. So you should prioritize your sleep as much as you prioritize your workouts. Try to make sure you get a solid eight hours, if not more, every single night. You may begin seeing results once you are better rested.
You’re Retaining Water
Water retention can do a lot to hide muscle definition. There are many different reasons why a person might be retaining water, and some of them can cause pretty dramatic differences in appearance.
The biggest culprit is usually salt. If you have a high-sodium diet, reducing your intake may help you shed some of that extra water weight. Another cause of water retention that’s often overlooked is medication. Something as simple as ibuprofen, which many people take to help ease muscle soreness caused by weight training, can cause water retention too.
Of course, if you have noticed a sudden increase in water retention or if certain parts of your body have become swollen, you’ll want to talk to your doctor.
You Need to Cut Body Fat
You may actually have an extremely well-defined set of abdominal muscles, it’s just that they can’t be seen because you’re carrying a bit of excess body fat around your midsection. When bodybuilders encounter this problem, they go through a process called “cutting.”
You can cut excess body fat through your diet, and by taking supplements. Bauer Nutrition carries a supplement called CLA specifically formulated to prevent fat cells from getting bigger, and to promote muscle mass. The more muscle mass you have, the lower your fat ratio becomes. After some strategic cutting, you may begin to see that definition you’re after.
Try making a few of these changes to see if you get better results, but remember to be patient with yourself. The people on the covers of those fitness magazines didn’t get that way overnight!