Should Women try to Get 6 Pack Abs and Can they?

One of the top fitness goals is to get ripped 6 pack abs, but for many women this is a bad goal and this article will explain why. Obviously, the answer to the question can women get ripped abs is, “Yes!” But, the answer to the question should women try to get ripped abs is a little less clear.

There are 2 main reasons that having ripped abs may not be the best fitness goal for women. The first reason is that the low body fat percentage needed to achieve the ripped look may negatively affect hormones. And, the second reason is that striving for extreme perfection and sometimes unattainable goals can lead to body image and self-esteem issues.

Let’s talk a little more about each reason.
Generally speaking to see their six pack, a woman needs to have a body fat percentage less than 18%, and many women will not actually have ripped abs until they get closer to 12% body fat. Everyone has an essential amount of fat that they need to function at peak efficiency. Generally, 10-12% body fat is considered the essential amount for women.

One of the main problems with low body fat percentage for both men and women is a disruption of the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone. When a woman exercises excessively and has a low body fat percentage, her estrogen level can be disrupted which can lead to health problems.

The condition known as amenorrhea can develop when a woman exercises excessively and has a low body fat percentage. Amenorrhea is a cessation of the menstrual cycle and it is associated with decreased bone density, stress fractures, and infertility. Some people feel there is a connection between stress fractures in marathon runners and amenorrhea. And some elite female athletes have trouble getting pregnant because their body fat is so low. In order for a woman to get ripped abs, she may have to get her body fat percentage so low that it affects other aspects of her health.

In addition to affecting aspects of physical health, striving for a six pack may negatively affect mental health. In today’s society, women are bombarded with messages that they are not pretty enough, thin enough, smart enough, or rich enough. The pressure is immense and this drives people eating disorders and low self-esteem.

I understand that people want to be their best, and I always encourage people to go after their goals. But, there has to be a balance between striving to improve and being content with who you are. I also want people to remember that exercise is a healthy habit that is good to incorporate in your life for other reasons besides vanity. When someone gets overly focused on the vanity goal of fitness, it is easy to lose site of the other benefits. I know a lot of people give up working out because they don’t look like models after a month.

Obviously, women can get 6 pack abs, but if might not be the best goal for some women. Try to think about all the health benefits of exercise in addition to the vanity benefits, and treat your body well.

Dr. Charles A. Inniss, Jr. is a physical therapist and personal trainer. Learn more about How to Lose Belly Fat and Get a Flat Stomach and learn How to Lose 10 Pounds Without Exercise

Visit his website to learn the Best Ab Exercises

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