When it comes to making changes in your physique, you must get clear on what you want, and be honest with yourself from the beginning. Think about the small incremental improvements that could be made on a daily basis, and eventually visualizing those daily efforts stacked up…making your goal a reality. When weather is improving, many people are searching for ways to trim up. When it comes to obtaining what you want, there are a couple main issues that arise. I am talking about the balance between how much emphasis should be placed on work done in the kitchen, and how much focus you should place on the gym. You will find very strong opinions on both ends of the spectrum, and since most trainees want a set of chiseled abs… the argument comes up repeatedly.
One commonality I have witnessed among numerous people seeking the best path to obtaining a “six-pack” is an initial desire to do whatever it takes, but their plan is clouded and invariably I see the same people often discontinuing their pursuit only days later. The challenge they were facing may have seemed too difficult in the moment, and they give up… feeling like an overall failure. When people want to know how they can get ripped abs, one of the first questions they ask is what exercises they should do, or how many crunches does it take?! Well, asking those questions first is a futile approach, and will only lead to unnecessary frustration.
The truth of the matter is that it doesn’t require perfection, but a balanced, manageable approach to consistent efforts on a daily basis toward hard work in the kitchen and gym.
When it comes to the diet, there is no magic formula or potion for getting ripped. The fact of the matter is… it comes down to calories in vs. calories out, how many times have you heard this? Well that’s because it’s true! I would recommend being objective in your approach and keeping track of your diet in order to guarantee you create the proper calorie deficits. A rule of thumb for determining your calorie needs for losing fat is to multiply your bodyweight by 12 - 13 and that number will give you a place to start. You can tweak that number as you notice changes and make further progress. In addition, there are a couple strategies I like to implement when cutting up that initially seem small, but make huge differences.
- Set up a plan - Like I’ve stated before, establishing a routine that fits your lifestyle is critical. It’s crucial not to be too rigid in your pursuits because life is unpredictable; being flexible yet persistent is the key to long term success.
- Take food with you - Humans have evolved from a life of scarcity… the body is pre-disposed to hold on to every ounce of energy you feed it. Fat is stored as energy reserves when the body needs it in times of survival. When you starve yourself, the body is apt to hold on to the fat, while slowing your metabolism. Supplying your body with food on a consistent basis will get your metabolism firing, and allow you to use more fat as a source of energy. (It will also keep you from seeking out the nearest vending machines!)
- Drink more water - Make it a habit to drink a large glass of water immediately upon waking in the morning. This will kick start your metabolism and start the rehydration after a night of sleep. With proper hydration levels, it will be easier for the body to utilize fat for energy.
- Limit alcohol consumption - The dehydration effects, disruption of hormones, empty calories, etc, of excessive alcohol will have negative effects on your progress. Moderation is key though; a glass of wine with dinner won’t hinder your progress.
- Shop the perimeter - The produce, meats, dairy, and extremely perishable products are all found around the perimeter of the supermarket. You will naturally consume for satiating foods, and it will keep you away from the processed calorie-dense junk in the middle aisles. Doing this one action consistently can have a dramatic effect on your physique.
- Make it easy - Don’t be afraid to eat out sometimes. Most restaurants have options that will keep you on track such as lean meats, or fish with steamed rice and veggies are a great choice. Also, a cheat every now and then can actually help you in the long run by further stimulating your metabolism and fat-burning hormones. Satisfy your craving, but always keep it within reason. Remember chicken breast can make you fat… if you eat too much of it!
- While it is true… making sure your diet is in line should be your number one priority to getting lean…and staying lean. It is worth mentioning that having the right personal approach to abdominal training can be very effective. Having a strong core is so crucial to maintaining correct form in the gym, which can lead to fewer injuries in the future when doing other exercises. The abdominals are just like any other muscle group, so working them will produce growth and create a more impressive look when you diet down. I work them two times a week, and once a week I add in supersets for about fifteen minutes of continuous effort.
The abdominals are composed of four main muscles: The Rectus Abdominis, External Oblique, Internal Oblique, and Transversus Abdominis. Each muscle has a role in the stabilization of a strong core, and the appearance of an impressive midsection. I like to implement a routine that hits each one of these muscle groups to an equal degree for a time efficient, intense workout:
- Superset 1) balance ball sit-ups with side bend/ balance ball leg raises- 2 sets
- Superset 2) bicycle crunches/ suitcase crunches - 2 sets
- Superset 3) leg raises/side crunches (1 set each side) - 1 set
- Superset 4) 30 second planks/ 30 second side-bridges- 1 set
- Cool-down: 50 trunk twists- 2 sets, 25 full sit-ups
- Other exercises to add variety: Balance ball knee crunch, Floor wipers, Roman chair raises.
This is a fairly advanced routine, and beginners should use caution and start out using one set of each exercise, and slowly add in more work until you can complete the workout in a reasonable time for your current level of fitness. To keep track of your progress, use a stopwatch and see how long it takes you to complete the workout in week one and shoot for a better time the following week.
I would say that it’s easy… but then everyone would be walking around looking like extras from the movie 300 but of course we know that isn’t the case. It is however, a very manageable strategy to start getting ripped and as soon as you see the changes taking place, I guarantee you will make it a part of your lifestyle. If you’re honest with yourself, have a plan for what you want, and follow my suggested strategies in the kitchen and gym you will get what you want and much more!