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How many commercials have you heard already this year that relate to “6 pack abs”? car commercials, credit commercials, vacation commercials, commercials that have nothing to do with exercise or appearance, week one of January, every year, everywhere. They regard 6 pack abs as some nirvana that, when reached, will fill the emptiness you don’t see in pursuing said result; and the real multitude of work, money, sweat and sacrifice it takes to even come close.

They promise them fast, easy, effortless, “results in record time.” And every year, a new group of recruits buy the lie. They purchase the supplements, they buy the exercise videos that stay unopened, they do the exercises, once; the learn that the “one simple trick” is anything but “one”, or “simple”, or a “trick.” The only trick is the one one they just played on you.

Yes, abs are nice, great, fantastic, beautiful and sexy. Just look to your favorite social media to see all the angles of abdominals; women in their teens, 20’s, 40’s, post-baby, pre-marriage; 300 lb. men with abs, 90 lb. boys like beef jerky rather than beef cake, all showing off their abs in contorted poses against mirrored selfies, sporting that hardest won and most prized trophy of fitness – “ABS”. Nothing wrong with that.

But just where else can you show them unless you walk around in a midriff all day at the office, or work in a gym? How else can man or woman show off that greatest attraction asset that everyone wants but only few have? You look foolish enough pulling up your shirt in a mid-winter Michigan gym. Exposed in a locker room selfie the begging question so often is, “what contest will you be in?” Are you a lifeguard? A model? An actor? Or just a poseur?

Why are having abs the benchmark of any fitness regimen, and now nearly every advertising comparison? Because if you care enough about yourself to have abs, it means you’re also eating right, sleeping right, training right, and looking good. Abs take work to accomplish and involve many areas of discipline, not jut “the 6 best exercises.”

DO YOU REALLY WANT ABS?

Here’s the recipe:

  1. A high protein diet
  2. intermittent fasting
  3. scheduled eating
  4. access to the best quality foods
  5. no alcohol, fast food, processed food, or pop
  6. discipline like you’ve never experienced, if you’ve never had abs
  7. consistent training from many angles
  8. a bodyfat scale
  9. a mirror
  10. a strong will
  11. honesty

DIET

This will include the first five ingredients. The best quality protein comes from grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, unbleached eggs, wild salmon, and the highest quality products you can afford. If you buy little quantities, you have no choice but to appreciate what you eat, how you prepare it, and how you parse it out over your given meals.

Intermittent fasting is simply not eating for extended periods of 12-15 hours, 2-3 times per week. Start with a 7 p.m to 7 a.m. regimen, then extend your time to after-morning workouts, and right up to lunch where you’ll have a great plate of optimal foods, green carbs, tea or water.

Scheduled eating is having food prepared for your consumption, at hand, and ready when you are, so you are not forced to substitute with fast, easy, or processed foods. The cleaner your diet, the more readily your body can metabolize it, classify it into protein, carbohydrates and fat, and distribute it where needed for energy, repair, and performance.

Alcohol, on a diet, is like putting sugar in your gas tank. The body cannot metabolize the good food until the blood chemistry is clear of the alcohol. So the whole metabolic process is slowed until the poison leaves the system, usually up to 48 hours. So even if you wake to a good meal after a night of teetotaling, the nutrition you’re giving your body is slowed down because of the foreign substance that dilutes the chemical process and makes even the best meal sub-par because alcohol is in the system. The hidden sugars, yeasts and toxins found in beer, wine and mixed drinks are very often the culprit in accumulating bodyfat in general, and bellyfat in particular.

TRAINING

The next two ingredients go hand in hand. As long as you are consistent in your training, working diligently with focused attention and an attitude of “do it and get out”, you will be able to sustain a high energy level throughout your workouts and look forward to the work to be done each day because you’ll have a consistent plan and a dedicated intent.

In order to get the lean look of sculpted abs, you’ll have to turn up the discipline even more. Every single bite you take that leads you away from lean, is twice the work to get back to where you were before you gave in to it. Keep that in mind, any time you fall back one step, one drink, one meal, it takes two to catch up; one for the step backward, and one more to move beyond.

Your approach must be to be try new, harder variations on the exercises and routines because your ability will mature and the things that were first hard to accomplish, will no longer even be satisfactory. So the angles will have to be varied, the reps, the combination of movements and the intensity with attention to details must be fully engaged. You cannot just go through the motions. You must make sure every movement is felt, and hitting exactly in the toughest spots that you wish to respond.

TOOLS

A good bodyfat scale and full length mirror are tools you should have access to. This is not something to laugh at; many people are afraid to look in the mirror or step on the scale to measure progress. Knowledge is power. If you know you weigh more, look fatter, thicker, going in the opposite direction of your intent, you know things need to change; and by the same token, if you see improvements, even on a minuscule scale, you see that you’re going in the right direction and with a little more visualization, willpower and determination, you’ll get there.  Every athlete keeps score. If your sport is fitness, measure your progress and keep score of results.

MINDSET

The last consideration is your mindset. Move confidently in the direction of your desires and you will get the results you want. If you falter, reassess and continue with more conviction. There is no secret, no trick, no pill or no piece of equipment that can get you there better and faster than your own brain. Use it.

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