I can’t even count the number of times I have seen this scenario play out at the gym: A skinny male or female with absolutely no muscle tone to speak of is sitting in the corner on some strange contraption that resembles a catapult or with their feet on a giant ball doing quarter crunches, “blasting their core” and “toning their 6-pack”. Never mind the fact that “they don’t have an ice chest to put it in” (quoting Rippetoe).
For these individuals, the pinnacle of fitness and strength is of course, the well defined 6-pack. They are not hard to identify in the gym, they are usually the people who will come up to you in the middle of a 5×3 push jerk or heavy snatch session, tap you on your shoulder and ask what muscles you are working (insert facepalm here). Usually seen in groups lacking any sort of direction, they typically have one ring leader that wears fancy black gloves doing 25 pound bicep curls. The rest simply stand around, do a couple of crunches or hang from the pullup bar for ten seconds, then go up to the mirror and look at their stomach. They have gotten it so engrained in their heads that they need a 6-pack that they don’t even bother starting with compound movements as a base for their programming.
I am not implying that it is not important to have a strong midsection. A strong core is vital for all lifts and to help the spine in a strong position. What I am saying is that you don’t need to stress about being <8% body fat when there are SO MANY more things that both beginners and professionals need to work on when it comes to strength training.
You especially don’t need to worry about having a chiseled 6-pack to impress the opposite sex (someone once told me that girls like 6-packs, women like a manly man). Do you really want to be with someone that flexes their stomach at every mirror they pass and is more worried about adding a little body fat to their stomach than your relationship? I didn’t think so.
Studies have been conducted that show that women don’t want to date or marry someone who has a chiseled midsection (link here) and numerous studies have shown that the majority of men prefer women with some meat on their bones, not super low levels of body fat and extremely defined features that must feel like hugging a large piece of plywood.
This is a huge reason both males and females are afraid of putting on size and adding strength. You see lots of glittering pale pansies ( I am talking to you twilight fans) in the media, that have a couple of abdominal muscles, with no real size anywhere else, it just looks uneven and incredibly weak.
Women think that if they do things like compound movements (squats, deadlifts, presses) that they will put on all kinds of mass and look like the guy pictured above, when in reality that’s not a possibility.
Women then unknowingly subjugate themselves by staying weak, by sticking to things like quarter crunches and core blasting exercises. Instead, they could increase strength, power, and their attitudes about themselves if they just stopped reading things like Cosmo that has an anorexic female on the cover and started squatting and deadlifting more.