Centr Team

Why don't I have a 6-pack yet?

Centr Team

For many of us, it’s the ultimate body goal, but also the most elusive.

If you’ve been consistent with your workouts and your nutrition for some time, but your stomach remains stubbornly un-rippled, you’re not alone. We did a search for “six-pack” in the Centr community recently and that little gray bar on the side of the screen is still scrolling…

Just because someone looks shredded, doesn’t mean they’re strong, powerful, or fast.

Angie Asche

We love your core, and we know you do, too. But there are a few good reasons you won’t find us advertising any workout or program as a guaranteed path to six-pack abs.

With a little help from nutrition expert and qualified personal trainer Angie Asche, we thought it was about time we unpacked those reasons for you.

Busting the six-pack fitness myth

Hands up if you think of washboard abs as the ultimate image of fitness.


Alexz says it took her a long time to move past the idea that she couldn’t work in fitness without “a six-pack all year round.”

We won’t deny that they look pretty cool. But as Angie sensibly points out, ripped abs aren’t a sign that you’ve reached peak health.

“Just because someone looks shredded, doesn’t mean they’re strong, powerful, or fast,” Angie says. “Having a visible six-pack isn’t necessarily an indicator of good health.”

The core of the matter

If you’re following your Centr Planner or one of our programs, your core is already getting a comprehensive workout.

When we talk about your “core” we’re referring to the complex group of muscles that connect your upper and lower body. Your aim should be to strengthen all of these muscles, not just for aesthetics, but for the functional life benefits.

Or as we like to say: it’s not just how it looks, it’s what you can do with it.


Sure, abs are cool, but have you ever crushed the family handstand competition?

If improving core strength and definition is one of your key goals, Luke Zocchi recommends adding a few core bonus sessions to your weekly routine.

“Adding 5-10 minutes of core work at the end of a session every second day is more than enough time to get great results,” he says. You can find short, targeted core sessions here.

The body fat factor

You’ve probably heard the saying ‘abs are made in the kitchen’. That’s a snappy way of saying that to achieve a visible six-pack, you need to cut your body fat low enough to expose the muscular definition you’ve been training hard to achieve.

The most effective way to do this, Angie says, is through a “low to moderate calorie deficit”, which will help you to maintain muscle while you shift body fat.


Angie has more advice for maintaining muscle definition while losing fat.

But before you embark on a mission to burn ALL the fat, remember: your body needs some of it to function.

“Fat protects our internal organs, is an energy source for our body, helps us to absorb some vitamins, and is crucial for hormone regulation,” Angie says. “It also helps to maintain body temperature and makes up the structure of our cells.”

So, pretty important.

While some people’s abs will become visible at a healthy level of body fat, others might have to get theirs dangerously low to achieve the look.

The American College of Sports Medicine defines ideal body fat percentages at around 8-21 percent for men and 21-33 percent for women, depending on your age.

But there is no universal body fat percentage at which abs magically appear. We all store fat differently and the fat our body burns can come from anywhere (not necessarily our ‘target’ area). So while some people’s abs will become visible at a healthy level of body fat, others might have to get theirs dangerously low to achieve the look.

Plus, we all have slightly different anatomy. That means that even if they are poking through, genetic variations means that our abdominal muscles don’t all look the same.

The reality of rock-hard abs

So you’ve been working out like wild, doing extra core sessions and dieting to reduce your body fat levels. Finally, one day, it happens: a six-pack appears!

But wait, why the heck don’t you feel like a million bucks? Could it be that the price you’re paying for that six-pack is higher than you expected?

“Maintaining exceptionally low levels of body fat long-term comes with several risks and health concerns,” Angie says.

“Chronic fatigue, poor bone health, a weakened immune system, mood disorders or an inability to concentrate, amenorrhea (lack of a menstrual cycle) in women and decreased testosterone levels in males.”

How are you meant to keep up with this crew if you’re tired all the time?

It doesn’t end there.

“You can also experience a decrease in leptin, the hormone that regulates your appetite. This can cause persistent hunger and a serious increase in appetite.”

These are just some of the reasons Angie says that a shredded stomach might not be “a realistic goal for everyone”.

That can be a hard lesson to learn, even for our trainers.

“When I first started in this industry, I really felt like I couldn't be a good trainer if I didn't have a six-pack all year round,” says Alexz.

“After spending quite a lot of time dealing with mental health issues related to body image, I’m finally in a place where I can focus on the fitness and mental aspects of movement, not just the aesthetics.”

That’s the kind of mindset we can get behind.

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