Defined abs are something a lot of people dream about. They are a symbol of how fit you are, how much work you put into your exercise routine and how disciplined you are.

This article is for anyone who has been thinking about getting a six-pack! Remember, it’s your life, your body and your choices – we can only show you the facts – in the end, it’s up to you.

Having visible abs comes at a price. A high price. Losing those extra 5 unwanted kilos is nothing compared to the very last 5 kilos needed for that six-pack to start showing. Now think about it. The shape you are in today is the result of all the choices you have made up until now. It reflects the price you have paid so far (because yes, getting fit comes at a price!). Taking it to the next level will require even more effort and the price will be even higher. 

Here’s our list of everything you’ll need to change or work on:

You’ll need to follow a strict diet. And by strict we mean a large calorie deficit but also a fairly monotonous diet where you stick to lean protein, wholegrain carbohydrates, vegetables and a tiny bit of fat. In other words, a typical bodybuilders’ diet.

It will be difficult to have a social life. A lot of the time, social activities involve food and drink. You’ll have to sacrifice that to get a six-pack.

You’ll need to interpret the numbers on the scales. As you need to keep track of your weight, you need to learn about how your body responds to stress, menstruation, ovulation, salty food, etc. In other words, all the factors that cause temporary weight gain. Or as we like to put it: keep calm! You need to interpret what you see without freaking out.

You’ll need to think carefully if you have/have had an eating disorder – it may make the disorder worse! Eating disorders are not limited to anorexia or bulimia, and we would say that the most common eating disorders today are binge eating and orthorexia. Binge eating is when people eat small quantities and a rigid diet for certain periods of time, and then crash after a while and binge on large amounts of food without being able to stop. The bingeing can last a day or more. After this period, sufferers usually return to the very strict diet as a kind of punishment for having eaten large amounts of food. Orthorexia manifests itself in the form of wanting to eat as ‘cleanly’ as possible and exercising a lot. Every missed gym session can be seen as a disaster and every food item that is not on the list of ‘allowed’ foods is counted as a failure.

You’ll need to know all about food, and by that we mean that you should be a beginner. Keeping a close eye on your diet is what it takes to get visible abs. And by ‘close eye’ we mean knowing exactly how much food you put in your mouth and what exactly that food consists of. 

You have to live a stress-free life. Stress is a major factor against your success. When you’re stressed, it’s not at all uncommon to make bad choices, especially bad food choices. If you are stressed, you also tend to accumulate extra fluid and find it difficult to focus on your workouts.

You’ll need to sleep well every night – sleep is when you recover. When you exercise a lot, you have to sleep a lot. This also means going to bed early.

You’ll need to plan your food carefully. Planning is something you will spend a lot of time on. This really is a whole new level. You will want to control your food intake no matter what happens in your life. Skipping meals is not an option!

You’ll need to spend a lot of time on exercise. Defined abs require a lot of exercise, including strength training and cardio. If you train 4–5 times/week, the next level is 10 sessions/week where you do 2 sessions/day, including both cardio and strength training.

You’ll probably need outside help. A coach can help you manage your diet and exercise, even if you’re already on top of things.

AND – once you have your six-pack, it is very difficult to maintain. Sooner or later, you’ll eat more and exercise less, and your abs will disappear. Just sayin’.

As you will already have realised, it is easier to go from overweight to normal weight than from normal weight to a visible six-pack. Replacing jam with berries, or white bread with wholegrain bread, is not difficult, but excluding bread altogether is something else entirely.

So back to the question… Is it worth it? Are you ready to live that kind of life? 

If you are thinking the price is too high – you’re probably right. Just look at your own life, do you have everything under control, are you able to do that much exercise? Or get the sleep you would need?

Instead, how about thinking about what is realistic for you and what fits into your life.

  • Decide on a specific goal. Clarify what you want to achieve.
  • Decide from the start how much you are willing to pay for your future shape. What is your limit? What can you give up, and what can’t you? What does quality of life mean to you?
  • How long are you prepared to maintain this lifestyle for?
  • Be very truthful with your answers – being dishonest will not help anyone, least of all you.

You have probably now come up with the right plan for you – all that’s left is to start working on it!