Answered by on Monday, June 1, 2009
You didn't expect us to say yes did you? "You can have very strong abdominal muscles but still not have that rippled look," says Allan H. Goldfarb, an exercise physiologist at the University of North Carolina's department of exercise and sports science. There is a layer of fat just beneath the skin that blankets the abdominal muscles and the amount you have is largely determined by genetics, not the number of sit-ups you do; women generally have more body fat than men and men's midsections tend to be magnets for fat. Now the good news: There are three things you can do to get your abs closer to six-pack shape. Eat a low-fat diet, increase your aerobic exercise to help reduce overall body fat, and do your crunches to tone the underlying muscles. "You really only need to work one muscle, the rectus abdominus, to get the washboard effect," explains Goldfarb, "and crunches are the best way to do it." As you get stronger, keep challenging your abs by adding more resistance: do your situps on an incline board; try holding a 5- to 10-pound weight across your chest as you crunch; or place your feet flat against the wall with knees slightly bent to position yourself for harder crunches. "You could still wind up with very strong abdominal muscles with a layer fat over them," says Goldfarb, "but that's nothing to be ashamed of."