<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none;" alt="" src="https://ct.pinterest.com/v3/?tid=f4de1632775725aa6fdc3fb6c132e778&amp;event=init&amp;noscript=1">
Fat Loss, General Health

Do Genetics Play a Role In Achieving a 6-Pack?

By Shannon Cole on Jan 5, 2024 9:00:00 AM
4 Minutes Reading Time


If you want to lose weight or gain muscle, you have full control over making that happen. Controllable factors, such as how you train, eat, sleep, etc., are factors you can modify to achieve the body and health you are looking for.

Many people will argue that genetics play a factor. And in some situations, it does, but it also depends on what you specifically want to get out of your training; losing weight is generally more realistic for almost anyone to accomplish than wanting to grow their calf muscles by half an inch. I’m not saying it is impossible for some people to gain that amount of growth in their calves, but it may be harder for some people than others based on genetics.

For example, some people structurally have a more pronounced muscle belly in their calves, or gastrocnemius. It makes sense that when put into athletic endeavors that require jumping or sprinting, they tend to perform better than those who don’t have as much muscle in these areas because they are activated during power movements. With the right training, enhancing muscle protein synthesis in the calves is possible, but those who genetically don’t have as defined or pronounced calves may need to work a little harder.

Whether we are talking about abs, arms, or glutes, genetics influence muscle-building potential. They even influence how muscle is carried on the body; those who are working to get that 6-pack may have an uneven abdominal muscle structure, and there is really nothing you can do about it. You could have longer muscle bellies in certain areas of the body or, as we mentioned with the calves, a more bulbous structure.

Some people naturally have a faster metabolism, which means they can burn more calories at rest. These are the people who can seemingly eat whatever they want and yet don’t gain any weight. Not everyone has this working in their favor, so those with a slower metabolism need to be stricter with their training and nutrition. Having a faster metabolism makes achieving a 6-pack a little bit easier.

I know that’s not motivating if you’re someone who struggles to lose weight, but, as we mentioned before, there are controllable factors. It’s easy to blame genetics and give up, but genetics are not the end-all, be-all. Same thing with age; sure, it is harder to gain muscle as we age because of physiological reasons, but even though we can’t control the fact that we age, we can take the necessary steps to still be able to develop muscle, lose fat, and gain strength. I’ve seen it, and it’s very much possible.

If you feel that your genetics are working against you, then you do need to make sure you are consistent in the gym, nutrition is not being neglected, and you’re getting adequate sleep. It is true that abs are made in the kitchen, so if you are working out endlessly and haven’t seen any improvements, then take a look at what you’re eating, how much you’re eating, and where you can make improvements.

And just to be clear, it is SO hard to actually get a 6-pack. Even some top athletes or those who work out consistently don’t have a clearly defined midsection. Women have to work extra hard because women naturally carry more body fat than men. This isn’t meant to disappoint you, but just to make you aware that if you are having a difficult time achieving the 6-pack look you want, you’re not alone (and the effort required for it will be demanding).

If you need a little push in your ab training, I really like MAPS MODS Abs, as a helpful tool to compliment your current training and nutrition plan.Flat Tummy Guide | Mind Pump

FREE Flat Tummy Guide


Free Resources

Everything You Need to Know to Reach Your Fitness Goals

Learn More

Shannon Cole

Shannon Cole is an ISSA certified personal trainer and lives in the Dallas area. She is a certified nutrition coach through NASM and NCI, and is currently pursuing her M.S. in Sports Science and Rehabilitation. After obtaining her B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication she eventually gravitated to personal training, and hasn't turned back since. Her passion for athletics and fitness initially stemmed from her high school years playing golf, and her love for the sport still hasn't faded; her career goal is to obtain her Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) certification and develop strength and conditioning programs for golfers. You can usually find her working out in her garage gym, or training for the next Spartan Race with her husband.

Read more from the Mind Pump Blog

Have a question for us?

Feel free to send us an inquiry and allow up to 24 hours for a response.

Contact Us