A Thirst Quenching Six Pack

This month’s focus is on the mid-section”¦ or abdominals. Most of us already have good abs. If you’re an active person you probably have really good, or even great abs. Can’t you see them? Look closer”¦ if you peel away the layer of fat that resides over top of your midsection, you’ll see that you have good abs. They’re like a washboard. Some of you guys are RIPPED!

And that’s the problem. Body fat. Our abs are there. They’re what hold our guts in. When you walk, sit, turn around, stand up, or do just about anything, you are using your abs. They get a lot of work. As you age, they get weaker, and with neglect, the story changes. But for many of you, the layer on top is the problem.

How do you get rid of that top layer? Have you ever seen a fat guy at the gym doing tons of ab exercises? That’s a waste of time, so don’t do THAT. He’s definitely going to get stronger and bigger abdominal muscles from all that ab exercise, but no one will be able to see his abs! They’ll still be hidden under the flab.

The way to get rid of flab is to burn it. The way to burn it is to activate muscles, or to adjust your eating so you burn it. Your abdominals are a small muscle group compared to the rest of your body’s muscle groups, and will burn much less fat than the other groups. So instead, start doing a total body workout, and start eating better. It’s not what people want to hear, but when it comes to your mid-section, that’s the unfortunate answer.

Abdominals are very misunderstood. I should say body fat AND abdominals because they really go together. The bottom line is that you can’t make your midsection look good without getting moderately lean. It’s different for everyone, but you do have to get lean enough that the layer of fat on your midsection doesn’t camouflage your abdominal muscles. It’s easiest to just eat right, lose a little body fat, and viola! You’ll have a mid-section that looks better than if you did tons of ab exercises without changing your diet. In fact, if you work out regularly, especially with free weights, you’ve already got great abs. Whether you can see them or not is another story.

A story will illustrate what I’ve said a little better. In college I ate everything in sight trying to get BIG. My metabolism is fast, and my thyroid works very efficiently, so I was always a naturally “skinny” kid”¦ and college student, and beyond. So I ate tons of protein, carbs, and some fat in order to gain muscle, and I gained a lot over the years. My muscles were full and defined, and my mid-section was tight, but I didn’t have “washboard” abs. I figured that all I had to do was ab exercises and they’d “pop” right out like the rest of my muscles. I was wrong. They got better, and you could see them, but they never got really good.

After a number of years, I got around to changing my diet. Instead of eating tons of protein, carbs, and a little fat, I started eating high protein, moderate carbs, and moderate fat. I got ripped. Should I say that again? I GOT RIPPED. In fact, I got so lean that I had to start eating more fat so I wouldn’t lose too much weight. But the key was keeping my carb intake at the right level. Now I just balance my intake depending on how well my abs show through. And it’s healthier, too!

I realize that not everybody cares about having ultra ripped abs, but the general principles are the same whether you’re trying to get ultra ripped or trying to lose some of your “love handles”. And you’ll have a harder time trying to lose love handles than trying to make “tight” abs look like a washboard.

I haven’t meant to belabor the point, but I’ve heard too many people completely miss the mark when talking about abs.

So to sum up: If you’ve got tight abs and want to make them better, you can do so by training them. If you want to make them look really good, just lose some body fat. If you just want your mid-section to look better, then do some exercises for your whole body, including a bit for abs, and try to eat better.

Here’s some ab exercises that work well. Do a few sets of 20-50 reps a few times a week. Otherwise, do exercises for the other parts of your body. Work on getting stronger, and feeling better. If you couple that with eating better, you’ll get leaner.

Leg lifts are good. Bend your knees slightly and lift them by rotating at the hips to about 30 degrees, then lower to the floor. Doing these while face-up on a bench is extra effective.

Ab crunches. Everyone’s heard of these. Don’t pull on your neck or head. Hands on chest are a good way. Bend your knees with feet on the floor, and knees together. Try to envision your abs kind of like an accordion, and let them contract together to bring your mid-section to a slightly concave position.

Ab machines , the best are the ones that allow you to feel your contracted abs without stress to your hips, hip flexors, back, or anything else. There are a lot of machines out there, and all will feel good to one person but not another. Try them out.

Until next time! just keep getting better.

 


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