Health

What You Should Know About Getting 6-Pack Abs

How to get abs? It all boils down to genetics. And planks.

Six-pack abs are often held up as the pinnacle of fitness — if your middle shows those segmented muscles, you must be fit, right? Wrong.

Sure, it does take a lot of strength training to build up your abdominal muscles, but before you can understand everything that goes into sculpting a six-pack, you need to understand some basic anatomy. First: “The six-pack abs so many people chase are actually just one muscle, not six,” explains Melody Dickerson, a certified personal trainer and instructor at Fhitting Room, a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) studio in New York City.

What looks like six abdominals is actually just your rectus abdominis, adds Michele Olson, PhD, senior clinical professor of sport science at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama. “The rectus abdominis muscle has large tendons that stretch from right to left across the muscle,” Dr. Olson says. Those bands actually lay on top of the rectus abdominis, so “when the body fat in the belly area is reduced and the rectus abdominis muscle is developed, you see the muscle between each indentation,” she explains.

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