This is my tummy. It’s perfectly nice as tummies go, but perhaps not the razor sharp six-pack you might expect from a personal trainer. Thing is, a six-pack isn’t a sign of health, strength or someone in peak physical condition. A six-pack is a sign of low body fat. In fact, getting a six-pack may involve many things that are detrimental to your health.

We all have abdominal muscles. Yes, they’re probably hidden under a layer of fat, but they’re definitely there. To make them visible (I mean literally pop) we have to cut to an unhealthily low body fat percentage. That’s single digits for a man and less than 12% for a woman. When you consider that an averagely fit man aged between 20 and 40 might have 14-17% body fat and an averagely fit woman 21-24%, those numbers are extreme.

The regime needed to obtain a six-pack is also pretty extreme. The deep-cut physiques you see in Men’s Health and on Instagram have likely been wrought from six weekly bodybuilding sessions, daily fasted cardio and a vastly restricted diet consisting mainly of lean protein. Added to that will be a cocktail of supps such as fat burners, L-carnitine, BCAAs and L-glutamine. Some may train in a sauna or bound with a clingfilm wrap to get the perfect selfie.

If you think all this makes you feel fighting fit, think again. When my brother Mark competed in the Miami Pro physique competition, the merry-go-round of lengthy depletion, training to burn-out and black market supplements made him moody, lethargic and prone to anger. At one point his legs were so shaky he could barely walk. His social life was zero as every waking moment revolved around meal prepping, eating and training. Following such a programme would undoubtedly have led to thyroid damage over time.

There’s also the psychological impact. Eating disorders, body dysmorphia, depression and self-esteem issues are commonplace among those trying to obtain the ‘ideal’ body.

For some bodybuilders, the natural physique is not enough and they resort to anabolic substances, insulin or diuretics. Drug abuse frequently results in insomnia, raised blood pressure and cholesterol and, in rarer cases, organ failure and death.

Of course, there will always be exceptions. Some people may find it relatively easy to gain a shredded stomach as they naturally store fat in other places. If that’s you – great. But most of us will have to follow an uncompromising and unhealthy programme if we want a washboard.

Some consider the sacrifice worth it. Perhaps they’re addicted to the attention that a wall of rippling snaps on Insta brings. Maybe they derive extreme satisfaction from putting their best self forward.

Everyone has a right to make their own choices, but a six-pack isn’t for me. I would rather enjoy guilt-free meals, have a life outside of the gym and train for performance not aesthetics. And if it means I have a flat, rather than bumpy tummy as a result, so be it.