Leaving Treadmarkz Across the Universe

How To Get Six-Pack Abs in a Wheelchair. Is it Possible?

with 18 comments

by Treadmarkz

When people meet me for the first time, they often make note of, or complement me on, the strong, muscular upper body that I have built up over the years pushing myself around in a chair. But what most of those people probably don’t realize is that my belly looks like an irregularly shaped loaf of bread. I guess that’s why it’s called the “bread box”.

But you hear it all the time in the media, gotta get a six-pack, wish I had a six-pack like that guy, I’m working out so by summer I’ll have a six-pack so I can go to the beach and pick up chicks. Whatever. There are superficial reasons, but it would be a nice feeling to have a nice, trim, sculpted healthy body.
In a wheelchair, it is easy to build up the muscle in the upper arms, shoulders and chest, but the abdomen? Most of the people I have ever known in wheelchairs have had a bit of a jelly belly. I used to say that would never happen to me. But it’s starting. Depending on your level of paralysis you may never achieve that six-pack, but I am sure at least you can have a flatter, more solid stomach if you work at it.

Let’s look at the ways that a person in a wheelchair can shed the jelly and sculpt that belly. Because you can push yourself around all day long and it will not make a bit of difference in your abdomen.

First thing is diet, obviously, but most people don’t like to hear that, and I am not an expert so I won’t waste the time with preaching something that I can’t for the life of me, practice. So that’s out the window right off the bat.

And the problem I have with writing this is that there are many different levels of paralysis, but for many paraplegics, and especially for quadriplegics, no matter what you do, you cannot get those ab muscles working. But I have seen some guys in chairs that partake in some pretty grueling physical activities, like skiing, sailing (which is a hell of a lot more physically demanding than it looks, I am told) and racing. All of these things demand balance, which requires you to use your abs, and yet that belly is such a struggle for a lot of us.

But regardless of your level, as long as you have good use of your arms, the best workout you can give yourself in that area, that I have ever had, is definitely swimming…there it is…swimming…the meaning of life! Put yourself on a regiment, a program, and stick with it, and you’ll be telling that gut to hit the bricks in no time. I remember those days. It was about 12 years ago, but I remember it.

18 Responses

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  1. Any high intensity aerobic workout will burn fat, even if it is stored in a portion of the body without direct muscle control. Swimming is great aerobic exercise. Also good: Chair aerobics, handcycling, dancing, making love.


    July 9, 2008 at 3:53 AM

  2. All fine suggestions and worthy causes, especially the last one. You always bring a well reasoned, well researched angle to this blog when you comment, d, thanks.


    July 9, 2008 at 7:24 PM

  3. Thank you


    August 2, 2008 at 9:31 PM

  4. HI
    BUT can a wheelchair bound swim? i appreciate if u could tell mne how to swim or any article or web site that teaches wheelchair guys how to swwim.


    August 26, 2008 at 4:51 PM

    • of COURS WE CAN im 13 and i can i just need to get some abbs somehow


      March 11, 2011 at 7:24 PM

  5. Wow Friedreick, I don’t know if that is something that I could go about telling you how to do it. It all depends on your disability and level of paralysis, like I mentioned in the blog posting. If you do a good search of the net, I am sure you will find a good how-to. Check on disaboom. I know they have a lot of discussion groups on sports, maybe they’ve got one about swimming. You may have a local chapter of a disabled athletics group that would offer classes. I’d check into that. Good luck and good health, buddy. Thanks for stopping by.


    August 27, 2008 at 12:48 PM

  6. You say some can’t get abs depends on the level. I want to know can a T7 ever get them or what does it stop.


    July 14, 2010 at 12:43 PM

  7. Yes u can get abbs if ur in a wheelchair, I managed it and I been in a chair since I was born “u know what I mean” lol, it’s all about 90% diet and only 10% cardio do something that will get ur heart rate up, hand cycle machine in gym “if u can find a gym with one” or hand cycle wheelchair, I use both but 90% of getting abs is diet. (Able body people do running & cycling for cadrio)


    January 18, 2011 at 9:05 PM

  8. Im a t5 parapalegic and i was always very in shape and i too, am noticing my stomach is loosing its muscle :(. its really important to me to keep my body looking as toned as possible. i recently started doing alot of medicine ball exercises and i was just wondering if you any tips? i would swim constantly but unfortunately i can only swim during the summer for right now. thanks 🙂


    February 22, 2011 at 2:56 PM

  9. I am also in a chair (SCI) and I use the VitaGlide. I have one in my home, but some gyms and rehabs have them as well. It’s great cardio exercise and if you do it without completely leaning against the back of your chair, it’s especially good for the abs. If you google “VitaGlide” you will see a lot of links….


    March 18, 2011 at 9:29 PM

  10. Weight training has the biggest bang for your dollar!
    It works in a couple of different ways. 1 Muscle is metabolically active tissue and needs calories to sustain it 35% more at rest! 2. Weight training burns allot of calories way more than swimming sorry but most people can’t swim,bike or hand-cycle hard enough or long enough to create enough of a deficit!

    Diet and hydration are also important factor and you need to eat very clean and often to keep your metabolism running at an elevated rate! Water 1.5 – 2.5 liters a day for anyone especially those of us in chairs with urinary deficiencies! Be active and have fun it’s what life is all about!

    Peter Morel

    July 21, 2011 at 3:59 PM

  11. Are you ready for great abs now? Now is the perfect time to get the abs and trim waistline you have always dreamed of but haven’t been able to have. Having sexy abs or a trim waist is one of the best ways to not only turn heads while you are at the beach or pool, but also to feel better about yourself. http://tiny.cc/6cglw


    December 30, 2011 at 6:47 PM

  12. If you would like six pack abs you need to take some very easy learning to make sure that you are on on your path. If you want to understand how to obtain abdominal muscles just …eight pack abs

    Six pack abs unhealthy

    January 13, 2012 at 4:21 AM

  13. Hello
    My name is Shaun nelson. I have been in a wheel chair since 1994. I am 33 years young. Well very long story short. Be for I was in the car crash, I was a star football player,star basketball player, loved track, but my best was I wad a great boxer, I went to national’s two years and took second in our country. I won state every year. I also wanted to be a navy seal when I was done with high school, I loved to swim and push the extremes to there max. Well in my heart I beleave that I am the most active person in a wheel chair. I have a bike and I am in great shape. However I need help. Yes I am coming to realize that I also need help at times. I am a t8-t9 complete. And I hate my stomach. It’s not huge but coming from a boxer that use to do 500 sit UPS everyday. I truelly need advice and well help. I will travel and do what ever it takes and help out people like myself for some help. I truel beleave if u can help me out we can help anyone out that asks for help.

    shaun nelson

    May 30, 2012 at 4:31 AM

    • Shaun,
      Thank you for commenting. I wish I could really over you some sound advice. I only know what started to work for me, which was sit-ups, but that led to me hurting my back a bit so I stopped. Now I just do a lot of crunches while I sit in my chair. Not quite as effective but it is something. I also truly believe that swimming is great for this. Unfortunately I haven’t had the drive to do so lately.


      May 30, 2012 at 11:48 AM

  14. good stuff on six pack abs. What are other people doing for dieting and nutrition for trimming belly fat and the such?

    Six Pack Abs Guy

    July 20, 2012 at 4:05 PM

  15. I think swimming is the answer – i’ve re-started doing 40 lengths a day of a 25m pool…..i’m a T11/12 complete paraplegic and swim front crawl with my ankles strapped together and a float binding my legs together just above the knees (helps keep the body straight – if you read/hear anything about swimming its all about keeping the body as straight as possible). I’m yet to find a good float – after first using ankle floats – found this was better: http://www.swimshop.co.uk/WIN-Elite-Aqua-Body-Band-PWELITEAQBODY/…….searching for something which fits better/doesn’t come off! I also have an FES bike, walk with my personal trainer twice a week (yes i am a complete para – got some walking boots from dikul center in moscow!) and see a physio once a week! Hoping that the swimming will get rid of the belly as i also was very fit b4 my accident


    September 1, 2012 at 5:12 AM

  16. Hello, I read your blog regularly. Your story-telling style is awesome,
    keep it up!


    November 25, 2012 at 9:47 AM

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