The Real Reason Some People Only Have A Four-Pack Abs

If you've been working hard in the gym, you may be waiting patiently (or not so patiently) for the day that you'll see six-pack abs. But for some people, that day will never come. And it's no fault of their own.

The abdominal region is comprised of four different sets of muscles: the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis and internal and external obliques, according to Healthline. The rectus abdominis is comprised of the muscles that run vertically down the middle of your abdomen. A band of tissue called the linea alba separates them in the middle, and horizontal bands of fascia separate them into square or rectangle shapes. These create the "pack" we work so hard to achieve.

When abs are toned, whether you have a four, six, eight, or even 10-pack of abs is determined by how many horizontal fascia bands you have, and that's something that's determined at birth. There's nothing you can do to create more bands.

The best way to get defined abs

Of course, not everyone will be able to see how many sets of abs they have, due to diet and exercise habits. For abdominal muscles to be visible, they have to be toned and there has to be very little fat stored around the midsection. Amanda Butler, a certified personal trainer, told Women's Health, "It can take anywhere from three months to a year to get a six-pack, and it's not just about doing a ton of ab exercises."

Butler recommends that, in addition to consistently working out your abdominal muscles with targeted exercises, you should add cardio to your routine. That's because getting your heart rate up helps burn belly fat, according to a review of 16 clinical trials, published in 2007, in theĀ International Journal of Obesity. And in the kitchen, increase your protein intake while reducing carbs and fat. Protein helps the body recover after tough workouts and builds muscle, which will help your abs get stronger and allow them to be more visible.

Strong ab muscles aren't just for show, though. Abs are an important part of your overall health and fitness level. As a complete set, your abdominal muscles support your core, which helps provide strength and stability to your back and torso. Even short ab workouts, done consistently, will provide fitness gains for whatever pack you might naturally have.