Q:

How many crunches does a 12-year-old need to do to get a six pack?

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Quick Answer

To achieve a six-pack, dieting and high-intensity exercises are more important than performing endless numbers of crunches. Muscle and Fitness says that an athlete with a six-pack-look has less than10-percent body fat. However, the Houston Chronicle explains that a healthy, 12-year-old boy has 12- to 22-percent body fat.

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Full Answer

The term "six pack" refers to well-developed abdominal muscles that are visible as a series of bumps across the abdomen. In order to have a "six pack", the most important factor is not how strong the abdominal muscles are, but how little body fat the person has. According to Muscle & Fitness magazine, the key to getting the six-pack look is not doing abdominal exercises, it's dieting - in order to develop an extremely-low percentage of body fat. Usually the body fat must be reduced to below 10 percent to produce a good six-pack; and, 6-percent body fat produces the most extreme look.

Therefore, Muscle & Fitness recommends dieting, a lot of high-intensity aerobic exercise, sprinting, and resistance-training for the entire body as the key to achieving a six-pack, plus a few abdominal exercises like crunches every day. The muscle that is most visible in the six-pack is the rectus abdominus. One of the best exercises to tone the rectus abdominus is the classic, bicycle exercise.

For men, the "look" can sometimes be achieved at reasonably healthy levels of body fat, since normal body fat for a healthy man is 10 to 25 percent. For most women, achieving the "look" of a six-pack requires reducing the body-fat percentage to an extremely, unhealthy level: According to WebMD, a normal body fat for a healthy woman is 18 to 32 percent. Since a healthy, body-fat level for a 12-year-old is above 12 percent, reducing the body fat sufficiently to reveal a six-pack in a child is probably unwise for long-term health.

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