They got them, you want them. In today’s episode of Runner’s High, we’re going to talk about can running give you abs.
If you haven’t been with me on the channel before, hit that subscribe button, stick around for more videos about running every Tuesday and Thursday, as well as my podcast that comes out on Fridays, where I interview experts in all kinds of fields on the Smart Athlete Podcast.
Now, topic today, you want to know, can running give you abs? You’ve seen them, seen those runners, you’ve seen their abs, you’ve been on Instagram, you know it’s going on, and you want to be a part of that group. Well, let me say, first, the answer is kind of. They can kind of do it for you, but maybe it’s not the whole story.
Now, if you’ve been on YouTube at all, as you are right now, here with me, you may have seen this kind of annoying guy, I won’t put his image up because he’ll probably get mad at me. He has these ads where he says, cardio won’t help you at all. You’ve got to do these strength training workouts, blah, blah, blah.
Well, first, let me say, I hate this guy. I cannot say with enough fervor how much I dislike this individual because he’s selling bullshit. And I apologize for the profanity. But it is needed in this case, because in the industry of health and fitness, there are so many people that peddle crap just to sell you things. Now, I believe this is one of these guys.
Maybe he’s well-intentioned, maybe I’m wrong. But he is saying things which are very easily demonstrably false. Now, can strength training help you? Absolutely. Can running help you? Absolutely. But that is not the whole story.
Now, if you’ve never paid attention to what’s going on in the background of my videos, I often spend time here in the sunroom because it’s got the best light in the house to shoot these videos. But I also like to feature books here behind me. Often, they are books that are in my collection, things that interest me, I’m kind of subtly sharing things that I like with you.
But also, I show you books from authors I’ve interviewed on that podcast I mentioned a little while ago. In this case, that’s one of them, The Uphill Athlete. I interviewed Scott Johnston about the book, about his experience, all those kinds of things.
But today, in particular, I have The Uphill Athlete because it is poignant to this video because it is an uphill battle for some of us to get six-pack abs. And if you’re here, asking me about it, you may be in this group because there’s more than one factor in play.
It’s not just about how much you run. I will say I’ve been running competitively for nearly 20 years now or 20 years now, I guess I started when I was 12 and I’m 32, which feels a little odd to say. But in any case, I’ve never had a six-pack, ever. Run sub-16 5Ks, never had a six-pack. And for me, that has to do with some of these other two factors that go on when you’re trying to get a six-pack.
So those two other factors or the three in whole are how much exercise you’re doing, what you’re eating, and your genetics. Now, for me in particular, I have always had a tough time eating really well. I grew up on sugary food, there’s just something about it, that’s always been kind of a struggle for me. And I always come back to try to revise it.
I had rules for myself even growing up, like I love ice cream so much. I used to eat a half-gallon of ice cream as a kid in two, three days. My parents would buy it,
And if you want an ice cream demo, I actually have an ice cream machine and it’s a hobby of mine now, leave in the comments below, let me know if you’d like me to make some kind of ice cream for you and spread it here on this channel. It does really have a lot to do with running, but I’m happy to share my hobbies. In any case, sugar has always been an issue for me.
And if it’s an issue for you, that means that you probably are going to be eating too many carbs. And that means you’re going to store too much fat, which means that you’re not going to be able to show those nice ABS off.
The other thing in play here is your genetics and you can’t do anything about it. So it’s something where maybe you don’t worry about it so much. You just do the best you can do, but I think it’s also good to know that it’s going to be more difficult for some people than others because your genetics determines two very important things when it comes to abs. One where the fat in your body is distributed. So, men, in particular, often are going to have more fat stored on their stomach.
That’s why you see old guys have these real big pot bellies, they haven’t taken care of themselves. And that’s where their fat likes to be stored. But also genetically determines kind of how the lines in your abs are cut, so to speak, and how those muscles are set up. So, even if you’re as lean as the next person, you may not have as much definition because of your genetics.
Case in point, one of my friends from college, one of my college teammates, we’ll call him Bob, for anonymity. Bob ate pretty well. He did. He’ll eat salads when I would be eating cake, and generally eating pretty well. And that definitely contributed to him having a six-pack. But I also know he could not run for a while, not work out, take time off over the summer, and then come back and still have a six-pack.
He had a little bit of a genetic advantage, in my opinion, to having that six-pack. Now, Bob, you know who you are if you’re watching this video, I love you, I miss you. Shoot me a text, send me a call, something like that. But I was faster than Bob, generally speaking. And there are definitely times when he beat me. But over the course of our running career probably edged him out a little more times.
So, the six-pack didn’t really contribute to his speed. But it was pretty sweet looking and I wish I had it. So, for me and maybe for you too, you have to determine what’s more important to you? Do you want to focus on being as lean as you possibly can and having a six-pack? Well, maybe not absolutely, but maybe it’s better for you to hang out with like bodybuilders because they do that.
They learn how to sculpt the body. And they are particularly strong, but their focus is on appearance, right? They do things that aren’t necessarily functionally going to make them the strongest or fastest that they could be. Like, if you look at the world strongman competition, those guys do not have six-packs.
But if the appearance is important to you, that may be an avenue to explore. If you just want to be fast, then running is probably your avenue. Right? This isn’t to say you can’t do both, that you can’t run and have a six-pack. My friend Bob certainly did, and very fast 800-meter runner, not my forte, he would crush me in those distances. I was much longer.
I was a 5K kind of guy. You can do both. But you have to get everything in place. You’ve got to spend time working out, you got to spend time in the kitchen eating well. Making sure you’re not eating too much. Make sure that you’re eating nutrient-dense foods, not just calorie-dense foods so that your body gets everything it needs.
One of the tendencies and this was one of my downfalls when I was younger, is that if you’re eating calorie-dense foods, it’s good getting calories, you’re working out a lot, but they aren’t nutrient-dense. Your body’s still going to ask you for more food because it doesn’t have all the things it needs to work. We’re putting lots of demands on ourselves by running, by doing these heavy workouts, by going fast, all of these things contribute to a lot of energy intake and nutrient intake by our body.
So, if you’re eating poorly, you may end up eating even more like I did, because your body is asking you for more nutrients. So, that’s the other part of eating well, is that you’re feeding the body what it needs to succeed. And along with that can come that six-pack.
So, my advice to you if you are on this training, if you are determined to get a six-pack is to focus on the process, not the results. This is not going to be a fast kind of thing. You don’t want it to be fast because that means you’ve probably crashed dieted, you’re going to end up on a yo-yo diet that’s not great for your long-term health. So, the answer today is kind of, but it’s 80/20 food and exercise. So, keep that in mind. I’ll see you next time on the next episode of Runner’s High.