Can you target belly fat to get a six pack?
What can I do to target my belly fat and get a six pack?
This is probably my most frequently asked question and it really concerns me sometimes.
First and foremost, I need you to recognize where this feeling of needing to “target your belly fat” comes from; more often than not we compare ourselves to those on social media and automatically relate a flat stomach or abs to being “healthy” and “fit”.
We also get smothered with articles touting us to “lose the belly fat!” or “fat tummy now” and it’s hard to separate that from our self-worth and can often leave us feeling inadequate or even unhealthy when that’s often not the case.
In reality, not everyone has the genetic predisposition to get a six-pack or a super flat tummy.
Where you store body fat has a lot to do with your genetic makeup as well as your total body composition Strong looks and feels different on everyone, and this is why your goals should reflect on things deeper than aesthetics. As hard of a pill as it is to swallow, you have to keep in mind that your quest for losing belly fat or getting abs can do you more harm than good. Some people’s abs don’t show unless they’re at a dangerously low level of body fat (which can affect so many processes in your body and life negatively).
Try to separate yourself from the idea that belly fat = unhealthy.
To an extent, it may, but a reasonable amount is actually very healthy and if you’re a female, it’s job is to protect your reproductive organs, making it very stubborn to budge – and rightfully so.
However, there are some things you can do to strengthen your core and further the appearance of a toned stomach.
You cannot spot-reduce
It will be up to your genetics where you lose and gain muscle or fat first and last. Building a strong core improves balance and ability in and out of the gym. You will find that with a stronger core, your other lifts will likely improve as well and you’ll be able to go heavier with good form as your core provides stability to do so.
More muscle = faster metabolic rate!
It’s a win-win. But again, be careful if you see abs as solely an aesthetic endeavor.
When you’re focused on building your core, go at it with a two-pronged approach. Be mindful that it can vary based on how your body responds to your nutrition goals as well as where you store/lose fat first. Get your nutrition in check and make sure you’re at a healthy body fat percentage.
This doesn’t mean you have to “eat clean” all day, every day (that’s a total misnomer), but try to keep your diet full of nutrient-dense, whole foods for about 80% of the time and make sure your food choices aren’t bloating you or causing any kind of digestive upset.
Often times people get bloated and freak out that they’ve gained body fat overnight, which is pretty darn impossible. Add in movements that work your abs at all angles and NOT just crunches (think: Russian twists, cable reverse crunches, toe touches, cable woodchops, etc.) and do so around 2-3 times per week.
They need rest just like any other muscle group!
If you’re like me and kinda dread working them, sprinkle ’em between sets of your lift. Also, stand up straight and keep them engaged when you lift! Posture can affect the way that you carry yourself and also allows you to engage your core more.
To lose body fat and reveal the abs you’ve built, you have to be in a caloric deficit, no matter where those calories are coming from; plain and simple. Just be mindful about being in TOO much of a deficit, where oftentimes your body will hang on to every bit of fat it’s got for dear life as it decreases your metabolic rate in order to have enough fuel for survival.
To sum things up:
Remember that having a flat stomach or visible abs isn’t a sustainable or healthy goal for everyone, but if you work your core, fuel your body properly and be thankful for your body for all it does for you, THAT will take you further in your fitness journey than having a six-pack will.
Don’t risk your mental state, quality of life and overall health trying to attain something that will only give you satisfaction on a shallow level.
Be kind to yourself and to others and never pass up an opportunity to remind someone how strong they are, and not just physically.
It’s perfectly fine to have aesthetic goals, but be realistic about them and approach it in a way that doesn’t put your physical or mental health at risk and always consult a doctor if you are concerned that your belly fat is causing you health issues beyond physical appearance.
You probably know me best for my workouts, wiener (*dog), weekly pizza parties and paddleboarding adventures, but I promise there’s so much more to me than my life in squares on the gram.
I’m a NASM certified personal trainer and nutrition coach and I also have a degree in graphic design and digital art. Life became a lot more meaningful when I found my purpose in fitness and being able to share my passions with others and empower them to make decisions that provoke their purpose too.
My wellness journey has been quite the circus at times – from competing in bikini competitions for several years to now just wanting to celebrate my body for the cool things it’s able to do & live my life as a pint-sized powerhouse. We all find joy in different things, and that’s what I want everyone to understand. There’s no need to put yourself in a box or slap a label on yourself when it comes to enjoying your fitness & nutrition. You don’t have to be a runner to go for a run. You don’t have to be a bodybuilder to lift weights in the gym.
Give yourself permission to be who you want to be and I promise you’ll discover how much of an awesome adventure life can be, and how your body is so much more than an ornament, it’s an instrument and damn is it fun to PLAY.
So hi, I’m Meg! Nice to meet you.