The day has finally arrived.
After months of counting calories, tracking macros, and pushing yourself at max effort in the gym, you wake up one morning, look in the mirror, and see abs staring back at you.
You snap a couple photos with the overhead lighting on and then off, just to prove that your new abs are legit and not just light and shadow sorcery.
You can’t wait to tell the world about your new six-pack, but as you sit down and bend over to put on your socks, you feel something squishy in your gut. What was that?
You pull your shirt up and look down in horror at a huge roll of fat on your stomach.
What. The. F*ck!
If you’ve been through a cut, you know the feeling of having abs while you’re standing up and flexing, but the moment you sit down, you look like a fat ass again.
Before you assume your abs are a mirage, let’s dig into what’s going on here.
Perception vs. Reality
Here’s the bad news: You’re likely not as fit as you think.
In our post about being Skinny Fat, we discussed the “Hopeless Chasm” and how our perceived level of fitness is usually further ahead of our actual current state of fitness.
Yeah, that thing again. I’m sorry to say that even when you get down to the leanest levels of body fat, this distortion in perception still exists.
Standing up, your abs give you the perception that you’ve reached the fitness mountaintop.
When you sit down, reality (and those fat rolls) remind you that you’ve still got work to do.
The Sit-Down Sixer
You’ll know you’ve made it once you have what I call the Sit-Down Sixer.
These are the people you see in gym locker rooms who are sitting down, yet you can still see their abs and just a thin bunch of skin folds down below.
Few elite fitness hackers have achieved this holy grail of fitness.
Whatever body fat percentage you have, you aren’t truly lean without a Sit-Down Sixer.
The Problem with Body Fat Measurements
Body fat is keeping you from a Sit-Down Sixer, but as we’ve discussed, the wide variance of results from different testing methods could skew your perception of how lean you are.
In fact, I can guarantee you it has already deceived you, because I’ve fallen for it myself.
To prove it, I went ahead and tested my body fat this morning.
My body fat tends to stay in single digits. That was one of my goals when I designed the Hack Your Fitness protocol, and at that level I’ve now got a stand-up six-pack.
Using body fat calipers, my skinfold test clocked in at 4mm.
A quick glance at the chart provided over at Accu-Measure shows that for my age (38… yes, I’m old) shows that I’m around 8% body fat.
Now let’s see what happens on the “Sit-Down Sixer” scale as of this morning:
As you can see, I’m at 8% and have upper ab definition and some skin folds, but also noticeable fat near my navel (belly button) and obliques (love handles).
Time to put that bottle of champagne back in the wine fridge…
Don’t Chase a Number
I know what you’re thinking: You don’t really have 8% body fat then!
Maybe, maybe not. But more importantly: do I care? Nope.
As I mentioned before, I’ve always trained for aesthetics and not a number.
Once you hit single digit body fat and get to show off your six-pack abs, you won’t care if you’re half a percentage more or less than you appear to be.
That said, I realize it’s demoralizing to work that hard and still have more work to do.
But here’s the good news:
- You earned a stand-up six-pack! You should celebrate it by strutting around the beach without your shirt on. (Just remember not to sit down!)
- You can throw out your body fat testing equipment because the number on the meter doesn’t mean anything. You’re lean enough to just be chasing the Sit-Down Sixer.
- You don’t have long to go to attain this holy grail of fitness.
You are just weeks away from being an Adonis, so instead of getting depressed, use the Sit-Down Sixer as motivation to fuel yourself in the final, brutal weeks of a cut.
When you think you’ve done enough, lock in tighter than you ever have before. Be precise on your macros and push yourself even harder at the gym.
Finally, tweet me (@jaykimmer) a picture of your Sit-Down Sixer when you achieve it!