Sure, you’d like to have a six-pack. Who wouldn’t? But let’s be honest for a moment — it’s not gonna happen any time soon. To make those tummy muscles visible, you have to have, at most, seven percent body fat, and doing that is somewhat tricky when your idea of diet and exercise is walking to the front door to pick up your high-as-balls Postmates order.
Fortunately, you have options. There are multiple ways to fake a six-pack, some of which have been proven effective by personal trainers, plastic surgeons and state-of-the-art Hollywood makeup artists, and others which… well, you can try? You never know, it may work for you. From a distance.
Anyway — let’s get started.
The Executive Order
While you won’t be able to fake this on a Big Mac-heavy diet, spray tanning can be a good way to give you a bit more definition than you actually have. “Spray tanning makes everyone look like they’ve lost about 10 pounds, and they automatically look more defined,” says April Landes, owner of Bronze 365 in NYC. Landes adds, “Men love that I make their pecs look bigger with some shading,” a trick she learned through her extensive art background. She does caution, though, that it helps to have some definition already, and that it may be more effective for faking pictures than faking, y’know, real life. “You don’t want to spray abs on someone’s pudgy belly and have them look striped on the beach as they fade,” she warns.
Who better to tell us how to fake a six-pack than one of the guys who worked on 300, or as it’s better known, Six-Pack: The Movie.
For 300, makeup artist Shaun Smith says, “We started mostly with a palette of crazy-fit actors and stuntmen. For our makeup team’s part, we began by having them shave their entire bodies and use a self-tanner. Then we used a specific technique we developed for the film — using two custom mixed colors to airbrush the abs and chest to enhance the actors’ natural shadows. Zack [Snyder, the movie’s director] then had us push the limits on shadowing the heck out of the guys.”
While many may speculate that CGI also played a part in those abs, Smith insists that it didn’t — although he says he has been a part of other films that used CGI to touch up the unwanted jiggling on some very famous people (he refused to name names — trust me, I tried).
Lather Up Your Landscape
While it might sound like something you’d see on a late-night infomercial, there are some topical ointments you can use to bring out those hidden abdominal muscles, provided the layer of fat they’re concealed under isn’t too thick. Sculpting gels like Amilean can provide you with a bit of definition through a mixture of substances like caffeine and aminophylline (an asthma medication that, when applied topically, can dehydrate the skin). This dehydration will tighten your blood vessels, making your tummy a bit more taut.
For $11 on Amazon, you can purchase a six-pack T-shirt and forget about going to the gym ever again. It’ll totally fool everyone. Really.
Chicken a la King
If you’re looking to get last-minute swole, high-intensity trainer Ben Bailey recommends that you “eat about seven ounces of chicken breast with a bunch of broccoli,” the night before you want to show off those abs. The dense protein in the chicken, plus the nutrients in the broccoli, will tighten your skin, possibly even revealing those abdominal muscles. A last-minute addition of pushups may also help to swell those muscles, but this requires actual exercise, so beware.
Of Course You Know, This Means GWAR
Before every show, the monster members of thrash metal band GWAR use theatrical greasepaint to draw six packs on their… well, not entirely buff bodies.
“It became a thing way back in the beginning of the band, like [in] 1988,” says frontman Mike Bishop — aka Blothar. “It’s easy, it’s funny, it fits with the schtick. I love the idea of people looking at Blothar, and he has this huge fat belly with six-pack abs drawn on it.” The most amazing thing about it, though, is that it actually is pretty convincing. And Bishop swears, “It works. Weirdly, for GWAR, it actually does the job under stage lights of making us look more like comic-book characters, and it really does bring out the abs, especially from a distance.”
For about $10,000, you can have abs installed by a plastic surgeon with a procedure known as ab etching. Usually this involves liposuctioning the excess fat, then using some of that fat to beef up the abdominal areas, resulting in an impressive-looking six-pack. Or, if you’re already in pretty good shape, it may just involve sucking the fat out of the creases of your muscles, thus letting those puppies shine through. Of course, if you’re undergoing the knife to achieve your six-pack, the cost (and risk) is a lot higher, but it still sounds better than going to the gym, right?
The Fast and the Curious
Fasting is a good way to actually get your abs to show. We don’t mean good as in healthy, mind you — we simply mean that it’s effective. Personal trainer Sean Salazar of AnywhereGym tells us that if you’re starting out with, at most, about 12 to 15 percent body fat, you can probably get to six-pack land within a few days to a week if you’re not eating at all. The only problem is that you might freak the fuck out in the meantime. “I wouldn’t expect people to do that for very long,” he says. “Even a couple of days is very difficult, as it can affect mood, energy and even brain function.”
He does say that intermittent fasting, like only eating dinner, is also effective, and a much healthier lifestyle choice versus absolute fasting, but it won’t reveal those abs as quickly.
If the T-shirt wasn’t convincing enough for you, perhaps you’ll have more luck with a complete foam chestplate. The onslaught of negative Amazon reviews, however, makes us wonder how good this product is. Our personal favorite review [all sic obviously]:
“Looks good in picture. Do not buy. You will either be very pissed off or you will laugh your ass of for like 20 minutes straight. It looks nothing like picture and has no padding. It is flat and so ghetto. This is my 1st review I gave in two years of buying stuff on Amazon. I feel like I have to tell you all that is crap.”
So what have we learned here? For starters, people who order foam pecs on the internet have alarmingly high expectations. But more importantly, now that you know all of these tricks, you can finally cancel the gym membership you’re not using and spend that money on something useful, like more pizza and beer.