The next time you head down to the gym in hopes of carving out some six pack abs where your belly is, take a look around at all the other guys with six-pack abs. They are a dime a dozen. All of them slaving away, chowing down on energy bars, rage rock blasting through their earphones. Ask yourself, is this really what I want?

Okay. Maybe it is.

But let’s take a look at what sculpting that body actually means. It looks good, no doubt. But does it mean anything other than that? Many experts say no.

It’s called a “facade bod.” The bulging pecs and the six pack abs are sexy and look great, but that’s about where it ends. These muscles by no means mean that you are fit or healthy or that you function any better than the dude across the street munching on a cheeseburger.

Okay, so if he’s 300 pounds of pure fat, you probably do. But here’s the point.  In a recent Vice article, Los Angeles physical therapist Nic Bernard says that “bulging biceps are required by almost no sport. You don’t need them to throw a ball, swing a bat or a racket or a punch, swim, or climb.”

Bernard goes on to say that bench presses are “not healthy” and that sit ups are “the worst exercise you can do because they’re spine-crushing.” I’ve heard other physical therapists say the same thing about body builders in the gym. They think they’re building muscle, but in reality they’re “cranking away on their spines.” In many cases these hulks/hunks are trading functionality and health for a certain look.

We’ve all seen those guys with chiseled bodies who can’t keep up on a hike or have can’t dribble a basketball to save their life.

Sanders Omoshebi, 29, is a trainer in Miami, who has worked as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s body double. He furthers the point by saying “I’ve been that guy… Sex for me was over in ten minutes…You’re doing shitty cardio. Your hip muscles are too tight. You can’t thrust. I felt sorry for the girls.”

So that facade bod, complete with six pack abs and big biceps does portray the image of a dude who is fit and healthy and functional. But that can often be false advertising. If you want to be truly fit and healthy, stop worrying about how you look and start worrying about what you can actually do. Gymnastics, martial arts, and running are all activities which will give you  solid gains in the areas that really matter. So take your eyes off the size and put them back on the prize.


Featured image by Michael Taggart — Flickr.