Can Women Get Ripped 6 Pack Abs?
So many people want nice abs, but getting ripped 6 pack abs is a bad goal for most women, and it's extremely hard to do-- and I'll tell you why.
In order to get ripped abs, a woman must have an extremely low body fat percentage. Getting a 6 pack has very little to do with abdominal exercises.
Spot reduction is the #1 Ab Exercise Myth.
Let's talk more about why it might not be a good goal for a woman to strive to get a 6 pack.
Reason #1 Men and Women are different.
Obviously there are significant differences between men and women, and it is often easier for men to lose weight.
One big difference between men and women is the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone.
Testosterone helps to maintain lean muscle mass and decrease body fat, and in regards to body fat percentage, there is usually an 8% difference between men and women.
Recommended healthy body fat is around 15% for men and 23%.
Higher Estrogen levels are associated with increased body fat. This is a normal physiological difference, and it should be embraced.
Note: If a man starts taking large amounts of estrogen and female hormones, his body fat percentage will increase and he will develop breast tissue which is mostly fat.
And, if a woman takes large amounts of testosterone (like some female bodybuilders) she will decrease her body fat percentage and develop male characteristics.
So women are limited in how lean they can get by the sex hormones.
Reason #2 Low Body Fat Percentage in Women can Negatively affect Hormones
When women lose too much body fat, estrogen levels can drop so low that normal female processes get shut down.
When a woman's estrogen levels are really low, she may lose her period-- this is known as amenorrhea.
Many female athletes with ripped 6 pack abs have amenorrhea!
2 of the major problems with prolonged amenorrhea and low estrogen levels are fertility problems and bone density problems.
Female Olympic sprinters must sometimes take weeks or months off from intense training if they want to get pregnant.
And since estrogen helps with bone density, young female athletes that don't have regular periods because of low body fat percentages can decrease their maximum bone density.
Note: Stress fractures in the legs are common in female endurance athletes (cross country and long distance runners) because of extremely low body fat percentage, lack of a regular menstrual cycle, and low estrogen levels which negatively affect bone density.
How low is too low?
For women 15-20% body fat is in the athletic range. For many women as they, move towards or under 12% body fat they start to experience amenorrhea. Generally 10-12% body fat is considered the essential (minimal) amount of body fat that a woman needs.
It is important to note that every woman is different. There are many women who maintain low body fat percentages with no disruption of their menstrual cycle.
So another reason that getting ripped 6 pack abs is a bad goal for many women is that the low body fat percentage needed to get a 6 pack may negatively affect estrogen levels, fertility, and bone mineral density.
Reason #3 Negative Self Image can Develop from Striving for Ideals
I think ambition is a great thing, and I don't like to discourage people from reaching their goals, whatever they may be.
But I know a lot of people that get frustrated when they begin a fitness program and don't look like professional athletes or models after 1 month of exercise.
Vanity is a good motivator, but if it's your only motivator, you're likely to give up exercising if you don't look the way you want to.
I always try to encourage people to live healthy and exercise for more reasons than just looks.
If you want ripped 6 pack abs, go for it!
Use my site as a resource or try one of my ebooks
Yours in Health
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