From the Blog

Striving for Six Pack Abs?!

April 23rd, 2010 - Fitness News, True Beauty


I read this post today on a fitness/health site ( and I thought WOW…I wish more women knew/understood this truth about having six pack abs! Basically, in order to have a ‘six pack’ you need to shed the fat that covers them, (you could have a 12 pack and it be covered with fat and they would never show through!) In order for a woman’s abs to show (in relation to a man’s version of a six pack), she must get down to exceptionally low body fat, (which when too low is not healthy in a woman). Now I’m not necessarily saying having a ‘six pack’ as a woman is ‘right’ OR ‘wrong’ and i’m sure there are cases when women are perfectly healthy (body fat wise) and have RIPPED abs…But I do think there are way too many mis-conceptions about abs out there, especially when it comes to women having them! :) So I thought i’d pass this along…and I’d love to know other people’s thoughts on this!! :)

Six-Pack Abs for Women: A Good Idea?
by James S. Fell Apr 23rd 2010

Earlier this week I wrote about the male six-pack and how difficult (and possibly unrealistic) it is to achieve for most men. Well, for women it’s even harder, and not as coveted, and not even all that healthy. And to make the whole thing even less attractive, ladies, if you want six-pack abs, then you can probably say goodbye to your breasts. Please don’t do that. Seriously, on behalf of literally hundreds of millions of men, don’t.

The fact is that women are designed to carry more body fat than men. It’s actually healthier for women to have higher levels of body fat. A 2000 article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition determined that a healthy body fat range for men under 40 years old was between eight and 19 percent, but that for women in the same age group it was in a higher range: from 21 to 33 percent.

To achieve abdominal definition, you are looking at getting down towards single digits of body fat percentage, which is considered to be way below the healthy fat range for a woman.

What’s more, it’s probably going to be even harder for you to do this than it will be for a man. Men have an increased ability to build muscle tissue, which allows more of their calories to be partitioned towards building lean body mass. Even more important is that women are specifically designed to retain more body fat, so your own body is going to fight you harder at losing it. Your body wants to keep fat reserves even more than a man’s body does. Evolution programmed you to be this way.

There is also the fact that abdominal definition on a woman can look kind of creepy.

I’m just one guy, and I don’t know if you care about my opinion, but I can tell you that I don’t like it when women get too lean. I like curves. I like some softness over the muscle. And as I mentioned, achieving abdominal definition makes breasts go away.

This is why so many female fitness models with rippling abs get breast implants. You can’t make your body lose fat only on your midsection, so you’ll end up sacrificing breast tissue as well.

My point is that you shouldn’t let the media dictate to you what is attractive or healthy. Just because some magazine has a ripped and implanted young model on the cover doesn’t mean it’s a realistic or even healthy ideal for you to pursue.

When it comes to fat loss, you can definitely get too much of a good thing.

James S. Fell is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and a middle-aged family man with a desk job and not much free time, yet he’s able to keep in shape because he loves exercise and doesn’t mind eating healthy. He is the author of Body for Wife: The Family Guy’s Guide to Getting in Shape. His column for That’s focuses on weightlifting, running and exercise motivation.


Sean said:

that’s a great picture of us sweety :)

April 23rd, 2010 — 2:18pm  |  Reply

jimmer said:

Oh that’s funny Sean,
But every one knows that’s me and Jody!

April 23rd, 2010 — 3:28pm  |  Reply

Katie Farrell said:


April 23rd, 2010 — 3:44pm  | 

Emily said:

Amen girl!!

April 23rd, 2010 — 5:56pm  |  Reply

janetha said:

those abs above are a little too ripped for my liking.. but i do like a nice set of toned abs~ it is true that “abs are made in the kitchen”!

April 23rd, 2010 — 9:28pm  |  Reply

Jennifer said:

Yea I learned from a personal trainer that the fat has to be minimized in order to see the muscle on the abs. Therefore you need to do cardio to get whatever fat is covering it and then work the ab muscles. I’ve never had the desire to have cut abs, but a flat stomach is always nice! :)

April 24th, 2010 — 1:20pm  |  Reply

Katie Farrell said:

Janetha and Jennifer I agree…’toned’ is always nice :) But clearly it…(like many things) can get outta hand and taken a ‘bit too far’!

April 24th, 2010 — 3:56pm  |  Reply

Tina said:

This is a GREAT post!!! Yes, to get six pack abs most women would have to get to an unhealthy low bodyfat level. I had a four pack for my competition and had lost my cycle and am still feeling the repercussions of that. Also, most models that have those abs are slightly photoshopped and have dieted down for the photoshoot day. They are not always that lean and don’t have a 6 pack on any given day. When you really consider it…how often do you see a women with a 6 pack at the gym or on the beach? Rarely. You might see women with flat stomachs and some oblique definition, tone, etc but not a 6 pack. I think the 6 pack is a very unrealistic goal. Plus, all of our bodies are built differently and no matter how flat your stomach gets your body may not have that ab separation that shows up as prominently to get that “ab” look. Wouldn’t it be nice if people just ate well and worked out to be healthy and let their bodies look like they will naturally from those efforts?

April 24th, 2010 — 4:25pm  |  Reply

Katie Farrell said:

Couldn’t of said it better Tina!

April 25th, 2010 — 5:16pm  | 

Jessica said:

Tina put it perfectly! So did the article. I had “ripped abs” when I was at a REALLY low , yup those single digits, of body fat and I was waaaaay underweight. I also had ZERO boobs. Now that I’m back to a healthy weight and more reasonable body fat, the abs are definitely not as defined but hey, I think Im okay with that. Sometimes I really do miss them but it is just really really really hard to keep up with it. And all for what? I’m not a model, I’m not a celebrity. No one cares! Now I eat more foods to up my body fat but my fitness routine is essentially the same. So yes, Janetha said it right too, it’s ALL ABOUT DIET.

April 25th, 2010 — 4:31pm  |  Reply

Katie Farrell said:

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this article! I personally liked it! :) It sets a more ‘realistic’ mindset for women who strive for ‘unrealistic’ expectations for their body! Way to go on striving for a healthy body vs ‘ripped’ body :) I think looking like a ‘woman’ is better anyways! :)

April 25th, 2010 — 5:13pm  | 

Rosie said:

I saw this article on That’s Fit!! It totally made sense to me… I mean I think it CAN be healthy to be at that low body fat, but women are supposed to be at least a little ‘squishy’ (lol). Though I think too-low body fat can be ‘healthier’ than too much body fat, assuming that you’re getting there through a nutritious diet and healthy exercise!

April 27th, 2010 — 5:49am  |  Reply

Amanda said:

I love your blog girl! You are adorable and this post was great :)

April 28th, 2010 — 5:50am  |  Reply

Ana Maria said:

this post is very helpful, i’m hoping to zip my white dress with a flat stomach, so this all is great!

March 17th, 2011 — 10:08am  |  Reply

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