August 17, 2020

So, let’s delve into the world of the abdominals or six packs or washboard or whatever name that tickles your fancy, and their visibility.

Chiselled abs have long been the flagship representation for peak fitness within the community. Whether plastered across billboards or on the side of your workout supplements, the image of perfectly defined abdominals and the compelling pressure to add them to your ‘must have’ list is hard to miss.

I’m sorry but there is no short answer to the question ‘how long will it take to see my abs’. I hope to shed some light on the foundations you may need to kick start your fitness journey to those desired abdominals.

For those of you wanting some amazing abs, did you know you already have them? The problem here is layers of fat, and although some may get away with this, for the majority too many layers simply render those abdominals invisible.

I’m sure you’ve heard people talking about the importance of a strong core. Well this is true, your core provides balance and stability for your whole body. Not only does it protect the spine from excessive load, but it also helps transfer force from your legs and glutes to your upper body and vice versa. Your abs are involved in the most basic of movements from standing up, sitting down, and even coughing; so you can see why they are so important.

Our abdominals are made up of four groups:

• Rectus abdominis – Gives that desired ‘bump’ to your abs

• External obliques – These give you that ‘V’ shape

• Internal obliques – These work with your external to provide the ‘V’ shape

• Transverse abdominis – Your internal corset or weightlifting belt

In order to achieve defined abs, all four groups must work together. As mentioned earlier, layers of fat can get in the way of their visibility.

There are three types of fat, subcutaneous, intramuscular and visceral. Belly fat is visceral fat and can be found inside your abdominal cavity and wrapped around your internal organs. This is not necessarily a bad thing as we do need some visceral fat to protect our organs. However, too much of this type of fat can cause serious health issues such as diabetes and as we now know is the reason most cannot see a six pack.

There are four main contributors for increased visceral fat: diet, exercise, sleep and stress. So, let’s take a look at these in greater detail.


The most common cause for belly fat is a poor diet. If you are consuming more calories than you can burn, then you are on a slippery slope to increased visceral fat my friend. Additionally, too much sugary food and drinks can slow down your metabolism, and therefore your ability to burn off this fat is reduced.

You should consider your macros (macronutrients) and how they play into your diet. There are three types of macronutrients proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. To drop some of that belly fat you need to balance out your macros so that you are in a calorie deficit. Do not forget alcohol, it may not sit in the above macros but has a high calorie count.

It is important to note that altering your diet will not provide immediate results. Much like everything else in life, it takes time and patience. However, if you are dedicated to eating a cleaner healthier diet and want to see those abs then you will.


There is no quick fix in this category either I’m afraid. Some may think ramping up the ab crunches will do it (which, when you think about it seems plausible). Unfortunately, this is not the case - for the most part.

If you are relatively fit and in shape, then maintaining an abdominal workout regime will help keep those already visible abs visible. However, for those still searching for theirs, maintaining a balanced workout is key. Hundreds of ab crunches alone will not make much of a difference. Be sure to include a mixture of cardio and resistance / weight training into your program. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is a great way to target your whole body and shift unwanted fat.    


Usually far down on our list of priorities is sleep – and what I mean by this is ‘quality sleep’. Sleep is key to a healthy lifestyle and allows your body to repair from the stresses of the day. You should aim for 7 – 9 hours of good quality sleep per night.

Sleep deprivation impacts our hormone levels which in turn can affect our hunger. Sometimes our hormones are so out of sync that even though we are eating more we feel less satisfied and end up going back for more.

For a good night’s sleep try avoiding the use of phones or tablets and the consumption of caffeinated drinks before bed. Keeping your bedroom at a cool temperature can also help achieve good quality sleep.


Most of us have experienced some levels of stress in our lives. It’s an unfortunate by-product to modern day life and affects so many of us in different ways. Weight gain is one of them.

Stress is connected to our hormones, and when we are stressed, we release the hormone cortisol. When this happens, it is quite common to crave sugary, high calorie foods. It’s not called comfort food for nothing.

Cortisol is not all bad, it’s the hormone that will get us out of trouble and in charge of our ‘fight or flight’ response. What we don’t want is our cortisol levels to stay high for too long. This level of stress can cause the body to hold onto fat.

Catalysts for stress will always be around. It’s how we control our response to this that is key. There are a variety of stress relief techniques out there. What works for you is likely to be different to your neighbour.

Meditation, listening to music, speaking and spending time with others or going for walks are amongst some of the most popular forms of stress relief. These will assist in your quest to reducing your belly fat and sporting those washboard abs.