‘Dying for a 6 pack’ – why the shock?
‘Dying for a 6 pack’ is the title of a recent documentary from the UK highlighting the agonising desire the majority of young men have trying to be part of the ‘aesthetic crew’. I’ve seen differing interpretations from fitness bloggers and even gym-goers when it comes to what one should make from the contents of the show.
First things first, at least we’ve levelled the playing field in regards to body image issues and disorders affecting both genders. Regardless of your sex, you’re going to be impacted by the noise around you. You may feel resilient. You may tell yourself you can’t hear it. But…..you will be affected by it to some degree, subconsciously.
Abs – the ultimate want
Visible abdominal muscles have always been placed on a pedestal by the media and even average people with minimal to no knowledge on fitness and health.
“Oh you’re in shape huh? Show me your six pack then!”
Young Mikey flexes his abs hard and feels anxious………….I don’t really have a true six pack he knows in his heart of hearts. But boy…….does he want one!
The whole documentary zooms in on British guys suffering from the pressure of modern body image – although really this is a world wide thing and not relegated to any country in particular. The gym life and accompanying pressure is just as prominent in eastern European countries as it is in America, Australia and here in the UK. But these are all guys who feel without a six pack they’ll instantly become a third degree citizen. Emotions like these can lead to extreme measures.
We knew abs were in, but we didn’t know the extent guys are willing to go to in order to have them.
In the photo below you see one of the ‘stars’ of the show prior to having six pack surgery. Yes. You read right, six pack surgery. He wanted a 6 pack so badly he travelled to Turkey and spent thousands to have one surgically made for him. And the irony is, he’s what, 17-18% body fat in the picture below? How hard is it to diet down to a true sub 12 % body fat?
And here we are………the final destination. The abs that he wanted so badly…………….
Incidentally, Mike Chang got insane amounts of stick for marketing six pack shortcut tricks, tips and strategies whilst being ‘bloated’ and ‘not even having abs’. But the reality is, this guy’s surgical abs aren’t nothing on Mike Chang’s! Was it really worth it? I guess it’s his decision ultimately, but logic would suggest it wasn’t worth it whatsoever.
Conclusion: The ‘investment’ certainly didn’t pay off.
Another guy featured in the show did high volume routines in a sauna to water deplete (through perspiration) whilst wearing a cling film wrap around his abdominal wall. All these extreme ‘strategies’ are failed attempts at finding a quick fix – a shortcut. Which means it’s time to lay down some facts.
Starting with number one:
Fact #1 – getting visible abs isn’t hard, it just takes time and discipline.
Our initial case study, Mr 17-18% body fat could have realistically (and safely) shaved a solid 8-10% of fat off his body in around 8-10 weeks just by meeting certain criteria:
- An appropriate caloric deficit which can come through food restriction and/or extra activity in the form of cardio
- Aiming to maintain as much strength as possible
- Consuming sufficient protein to limit potential muscle loss
- Having the necessary patience to see the task to fruition
Fact #2 – maintaining abs is the real challenge.
Face it, you want it all. You want to club every night and not just club, you can’t club without getting blind drunk?! What about the takeaways after? What about dating girls at restaurants? It’s fine to want all that. But, you must realise that maintaining ultra low body fat levels whilst gallivanting around doing all that is very difficult – at least for a natural.
Some can get away with it genetically, but they’re rare. The real issue here is the fitness figures on social media who brag about their junk food eating whilst still being shredded, dry and full. It would be naive at best to think that isn’t going to encourage others to try and follow suit. And the outcome isn’t pretty. There’s a big reason us mortals cannot mirror the fitness stars, and it’s fact number three.
Fact #3 – steroids and other drugs are far more prevalent than you think.
I know you hate people who say this, but denial isn’t a nice state to live in. As I watched the documentary, I saw plenty of guys who were obviously not natural and yet, there wasn’t even a mention of drug use! It was all dedication, obsession, wanting to get girls and extremist behaviour. I was disappointed. And then they got there! They touched on the most glossed over subject in the fitness community worldwide…..drugs.
Depending on where you are, anabolic steroids aren’t that hard to come by. Of course there’s a major difference between a prescription and exchanging cash in an alleyway. The poor grade stuff is pathetically easy to come by; they showed that in the documentary. From here on out the credibility of the show grew and grew in my eyes.
Disclaimer: I have absolutely no issue with people using steroids and other PEDs. The only issue I have is when those who use claim not to use in order to market and sell products off their ENHANCED physique. That’s a charlatan.
(kiddynameitsworld.com) – another term for ‘fake natties’?
(RELATED READING: NattyOrNot.com – an in depth interview!)
Another misconception with drug use and weightlifting/working out, is you must be huge to be using anything. This is completely untrue. And this wonderful documentary showed us just that. The very same guy who was doing the water depletion workouts in the sauna turned out to be on steroids – although they only revealed it at the end. He confessed to using Clenbuterol, a classic cutting drug.
(dailymail.co.uk) – an action shot of the man himself. Did you mistake him for Kali Muscle?
He has a good physique. A physique that’s more than good enough to attract plenty of women. Yet there will be many wannabe meatheads thinking he’s a “stick” and it’s L-O-L funny he’s using drugs and is so small compared to some. The reality is very different. And it’s thanks to websites such as NattyOrNot.com and Jason Blaha’s Youtube channel that slowly, we’re having our eyes opened to reality. ‘Durianrider’ has also had an impact regarding educating people on the power of hormone manipulation via drugs on his Youtube channel. As a matter of fact, he went on prescription testosterone and gained an INSANE amount of muscle in a stupendous timespan – whilst not even training for muscle mass! He was just cycling. He didn’t even eat for mass gain either!
This is the good of Youtube. The bad is still winning though. Youtube fitness stars are severely skewing our perception of what a good, healthy physique is for both males and females. The same goes for strength standards – you get guys thinking a 500 lb raw deadlift is worthless and a ‘pussy weight’ just because they’re still some way away from matching Jesse Norris.
(allthingsgym.com) – Powerlifter Jesse Norris
The real world and the Youtube world are miles apart. Only compare yourself to your potential. Making comparisons with anything other is pointless and a waste of emotional energy.
My thanks go to the BBC for taking a step towards making current ‘underground’ knowledge more mainstream.
In conclusion –
It’s hard to feel comfortable in your own skin. Sadly, some never find that state. Conversely, others have never felt a self conscious thought. The world of training, working out and fitness is there to take us closer and closer to a state of self contention. It can only do that if you assess your progress against where you were X amount of months/years prior.
You cannot have it all. It’s nature. Whatever you gain somewhere, you’ll lose somewhere else. Even if it doesn’t appear so, it happens. But knowledge is power – it gives you clarity. You’re less likely to trip and fall. Wanting it all is where things begin to tumble; guys want the sex, the lifestyle, the drink, the wild parties, the junk food and to be an aesthetic ‘mofo’ all in one. Some even believe girls only date guys under 10 % body fat (very lean). This is flawed thinking and if these guys were to actually mix with real girls and women, they’d find this is simply NOT true.
My thigh gap article is my most popular to date and it’s all off the back of my hand on heart opinion of what I – and many other seemingly unimportant and non famous guys think is actually attractive in a girl.
(A Guy’s Thoughts On The ‘Thigh Gap’)
I’m no Einstein, but I think I can see a niche here for one of you female fitness bloggers……..I think we need a girls’ honest opinion of the ultra shredded 6 pack physique. Does it make the man? I know the answer. But many of these poor guys out there don’t.
I think we need the female version of my thigh gap post more now than ever.
Mentioned websites, Youtube videos and channels:
BBC Three’s Dying For A 6 Pack – watch the whole show here!
Durianrider’s steroid experiment video
Disclaimer: Straight Talking Fitness does not endorse or promote the use of anabolic steroids or any illegal substances. Any activity involving such should not be considered without the consultation of a medical doctor.
JR @ Straight-Talking-Fitness View All
The 'brains' behind StraightTalkingFitness, a site all about discovery that leads to strength in all formats; fitness, mental, emotional and spiritual. Everything starts from within and projects outwards. Master the body, master anything and everything.
This is a great read man! I too watched that documentary the other day when it was aired, and I’ve been thinking the same things as what you’ve mentioned above. Body dismorphia is a real issue amongst men in the modern world and I thank the BBC for bringing it to light, and touching upon the drug problem within our industry. I’ve started writing about the drug problem for an article I’m going to release soon so its nice to see someone else touch upon it
Thanks Sam, hope you had a good Christmas bud! It was actually a really good show. I usually don’t like those mainstream documentaries because they don’t tend to go in to detail, but they did here, so props to them for that.
Make sure you get that post up soon, I’ll be really intrigued to hear your thoughts and take on it. Overall, I wasn’t that shocked by what I saw, but some are GOBSMACKED.
Thanks for the support man 🙂
I did thankyou, became human again and consumed lots of food and drink haha! Hope you had a good christmas too. I cant wait to get that post out so I can talk about the real nitty gritty issues at hand in the industry, its about time people understood whats real and what is a false hope in the modern industry
Good stuff dude. I didn’t go as crazy this year, haha. But still had fun! Skewed senses of reality is the big issue at hand sadly. I’m eagerly awaiting this post! 😉
Fitness should be done for oneself! I love working out and working on my body, but I do it for myself as I love the satisfaction and empowerment it gives me. I have dated guys with 6 packs and guys without – it’s neither here nor there! I use to date a strength & conditioning coach and he was in very good shape, and worked hard for it, but he often complained that I didn’t appreciate his 6 pack enough! I think the issue was that he went on about it too much – yes you have a 6 pack, but that’s not why I’m with you! To many women the ‘ultra shredded’ lean look isn’t even that attractive (so this is definitely flawed thinking!) What’s admirable in a 6 pack – on man or woman, is the hard work and sacrifice that’s behind it – without the drugs!
Absolutely. The self-improvement is my personal driving factor, but then I’ve got a never satisfied personality which can be a double edged sword sometimes. Very interesting to hear you actually dated someone who felt they DESERVED recognition/appreciation on the regular for having LOW BODY FAT……….hahahaha. Insecure much?
Also, when you start sacrificing things that ultimately mean more in a relationship like going out, taking holidays and enjoying each others’ company, that’s when you know something’s wrong. I used to be so dedicated I avoided everything, thankfully I woke up and smelt the coffee. We just need others to do the same.
Thanks once again for the stellar input!
This is one of the best posts I’ve seen on this subject. It’s quite simple for me….am I interested in a guy because he has a six pack? No. Not in any way shape or form. Like, shecyclesblog, I agree that it is the hard work and sacrifice that is admirable. I’ll take a look at the documentary now and then report back.
Thanks for the positive and honest feedback. Definitely check it out. I’ll be interested to see what you make of it. But I must say, I’m surprised you hadn’t already seen it!
I’m surprised I’d not seen it but then I’ve not been watching much in the way of TV. My head has been in a book or in the clouds.
Having now watched the programme in question, I feel better able to comment. Somewhere along the line, people have forgotten the true meaning of fitness. Society, social media and peer pressure have all, in some way, shifted the perception of true fitness. It’s easy to forget that our outer shell is not always representative of what is going on inside the body. Yes, it has a huge effect on the way we look but there’s more to fitness than just being shredded or ripped or buff or whatever people want to call it. Perhaps the biggest issue that is being overlooked by many is the health and fitness of the mind. After all, it is there that our beliefs our shaped and there that insecurities build and affect all that we do and become. For me, having a six pack is a by-product of the way that I train and most importantly, what I eat. It is not the be all and end all. I try to focus on the bigger picture. Would I be less happy without a six pack? I don’t know as it isn’t something that I think about.
I’m saddened by much of what was shown in this film. I wonder how many of these guys have discussed their insecurities with a woman? I also wonder how many of these guys actually realise that having a six pack does not make you a more rounded and balanced individual? Having surgery to get a six pack is something I would never consider but can understand why some are now opting to go down that particular route. I don’t believe the results were amazing and I would doubt they were life-long.
It raises several issues and I believe they are worthy of further discussion. I’m going to think about this throughout the course of the day and possibly speak to a few of my male friends that work out and ask for their input/views.
Brilliant post and one that should not be left to collect dust.
Wonderful assessment! That comment could qualify as blog post! Discussing the insecurities with a woman is hitting the nail on the head, I think. Maybe it’s a lack of approval they feel? I can relate in some ways. I guess it can be hard to maintain ‘optimal’ confidence levels without continuous reiteration that you do indeed, look good to that which you’re trying to appeal to? Just a thought.
I would be interested to see you do your own take or ’round up’ of the show. Many others are in the process of releasing their thoughts too. I’ve always judged my self value in fitness terms on my abilities and capacity, too bad those guys don’t see it that way.
I may well incorporate it into a bigger post. Leave me to think on this one. I did pass the word around with some bodybuilding guys and power lifters. I’ll be interested to hear their views and shall report back to you. I need to write the post when I’m more energised. Full of eggs and full of DOMS across all of my abs. Ouch is an understatement.
I recently wrote a post somewhere along these lines but more in women’s perspective: https://athleteonsteroids.wordpress.com/2015/11/23/is-strong-really-the-new-sexy/
It’s great that you bring this up as I’ve talked about insecurities regarding your looks with my male friends and it seems even harder for guys to admit they’re pressured by outside influence.
I’ll check that post out, thanks for sharing it! Yeah, you’re not ‘supposed’ to suffer from it, but it’s there alright. I don’t think anyone is totally immune to it either, unfortunately.
Six-pack surgery? Yuk! I’d rather not have abs, but then at my age, my training goals are less about appearance and more about maintaining/building muscle mass and strength. I feel bad about people who think they need to look a certain way in order to be somebody.
Do you not think it’s more of an age related thing, James? I.E. being more comfortable in your skin with more time behind you?
Probably so. Being older, it’s more about how I feel, what hurts or doesn’t hurt, and maintaining my physical capabilities.
Okay the most awesome part about having abs is knowing you EARNED them! They’re not just pretty to look at, they’re a mark of an ambitious, focused, hard-working person. I say you’re definitely short-changing yourself if you try to buy your 6-pack.
Oh absolutely. I’d add: That which is achieved quickly, is more likely to leave quickly.
Yes! We always want instant gratification but it’s really not worth it long-term.