An athletic body is functional in nature. What this means is that it’s able to perform real-life activities with relative ease.
Few examples are:
– Climb 10 floors while carrying your infant kid and your wife’s shopping bags with relative ease in case the lift is not working!
– Climb a tree if needed
– Play a sport (or any sport) recreationally
– RUN to save your life from a ferocious dog!
An athletic physique may or may not sport a six-pack (it all depends upon one’s body fat levels. Anything less than 12 percent body fat will give a clear visibility of six pack abs!)
Now, when we talk about a six-pack body, basically what we are referring to is a bodybuilder. This kind of physique is build with only one goal in mind: Aesthetics!
A bodybuilder performs lot of isolated exercises mainly using machines that emphasize only one plane of motion—the sagittal plane. This causes muscle imbalances, and your muscles become prone to injury.
In real life, our muscles are used to working in all three planes of motion: sagittal, frontal and transverse.
Yes, there are three planes of motions.
Sagittal plane is forward or backward.
Frontal plane is side to side.
Transverse plane is rotational. (Ref to the diagram below)
Therefore, it becomes imperative to include movements in the frontal and transverse planes as well.
In the end, it all depends on what your goals are.
If you an athlete (swimmer, boxer, powerlifter etc) you will naturally train according to what your sport demands, whereas if you desire to become a fitness model, a pro bodybuilder you need to follow a routine of weight lifting few times a week, specialising each body part.
In both cases, if your body fat is low enough (less than 12 percent) your six pack will be visible.
If you are recreational athlete who simply wants to look good on a beach but also want to become strong and build real-life functional strength do this:
Pick up 5 to 8 functional whole-body exercises involving multiple planes of motion and multiple joints, which mimics real-life activities. Think squat, deadlift, wood chop, and medicine ball side throw (rotational exercises) to name a few.