Before we get started I must harp on one absolutely crucial piece to the six-pack ab success puzzle
. This piece is the foundation upon which ALL success is built, inside and outside of the gym. Without realizing the importance of what I’m going to tell you, then you will surely find yourself on a systematic decline towards inevitable failure.
What I’m talking about is behavioral change. As with any and all endeavors in life, “trying” is simply not enough. It never was. To me, when someone says “I’ll try”, they are telling me that they will make an attempt until things become difficult and then retrograde to what they know to be safe and/or easy. If you truly want six-pack abs, then trying will not suffice. You have to DO. What I want to help you understand is that you have commit one hundred percent to success, otherwise the only outcome will be failure. Micro (and sometimes macro) failures will happen along the way, but it is how you handle those failures that will dictate whether or not your final destination is success or square one.
Secondly, excuses and success are entirely incompatible. Mutually exclusive, if you will. The number one thing you can do before beginning is agree to take FULL responsibility for yourself.
Do these things, and nothing will be able to stop you.
Look, I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Getting shredded (without the use of “special vitamins”) sucks! It’s one of the most difficult and trying tasks you will ever put yourself through, I can promise you that much.
But with just about anything else in life, the greater the risk, the greater the potential reward. Getting shredded sucks. But being shredded is awesome.
So if you are unable to fully commit to what I am about to lay out for you, then there is no reason for you to continue wasting your time reading through this post.
Put your computer away now and retreat to your box of devil dogs or whatever your current poison may be.
But if you are ready to make the necessary behavioral changes to ensure your success, then what I’m going to tell you will essentially pave the path to six-pack abs for you. But again, I can only show you the way; it is still all on you to take the journey.
Shredded, sinewy abs are forged in both the kitchen and the gym. Of this, there is no disputation. I have never witnessed anybody out-train a poor diet, at least not to the point of garnering an envious six-pack.
So let’s start in the kitchen and clear up some common misconceptions about eating for six-pack abs. 1. It’s not all about calories in vs. calories out.
There is some truth to the law of thermodynamics, but what we need to realize is that contrary to popular belief humans are NOT machines! If only it were as simple as humans operating “as a function of x or y” then six-pack abs would no longer be desirable because they would no longer be a rarity! This is simply not the case. We are rather adaptive organisms. We respond to stimuli and each of us possibly a bit differently than others. And while calories certainly will play a role in your ultimate success, we now need to consider a few other crucial elements to successfully stripping away body fat. a.
Thyroid Output – As I stated above, humans are adaptive organisms. This is why diets that rely solely on caloric deficits FAIL because we are able to adapt to them! Our bodies don’t actually want to be shredded! They want to retain some fat as a safety measure. What happens is that eventually there will be a significant metabolic downshift to accommodate for the lack of calories coming in. Specifically this happens when our thyroid begins to produces less of t-3 (triodothyronine) and t-4 (thyroxine) hormones. These hormones are crucial for dictating your basal metabolic rate and play a large role in protein synthesis as well. So what really stinks about cutting calories is that the long-run success rate is very low because of how our bodies adapt to the caloric deficit by actually LOWERING our basal metabolic rate so that we burn less calories throughout the day. Bummer. b.
Leptin – This hormone is commonly referred to as the “anti-starvation” hormone. Most leptin receptors lie within the hypothalamus, but there are many more throughout the body.
That’s not all that important. What is important is that when leptin levels are high, there is no shortage of leptin binding to their receptors, which tells the brain that you are not starving, food intake is wholly sufficient, and there is little need to store or hold onto body fat. Unfortunately, leptin levels are usually only this high when you are eating often and/or eating a lot which is also not so conducive to fat-burning with all that insulin floating around. Now, when you restrict calories, leptin levels drop – often substantially within the first 72 hours. This is less than desired because now our brain is being sent signals that we are somewhat starving and our body is now more apt to store body fat. c.
Insulin – Insulin is a transport hormone. It shuttles nutrients to cells. These cells could either be fat cells or they could be muscle cells (I’ll teach you how to make insulin work for your muscle cells later on…). Insulin to a certain degree is also inhibitory of natural growth hormone, meaning the more you spike your insulin through the consumption of food (specifically carbohydrates), the more you inhibit the release of natural growth hormone, which again is a favorable hormone for fat loss. More on the role of hormones and how to optimize them for fat-burning later… 2. Fat is not the enemy.
It never has been. Not at least until the creation of man-made fats such as hydrogenated oils. Read my ketogenic blog post
to learn about how a high fat diet can actually make you the leanest you’ve ever been. 3. Carbs are only partly the enemy.
It’s a give-and-take relationship. Too many carbs can and will make you fat. Yet you need carbohydrates to fuel your anaerobic endeavors. I’ll tell you my secret for proper carb selection below…
So it seems as if we are stuck between a rock and a sucky place. We need a caloric (even more so a
carbohydrate deficit) deficit to shed body fat, yet we need a caloric (again more so a carbohydrate
surplus) to ensure hormonal optimization conducive to fat loss.
So what’s the solution? Concentrated Carb Dosing and My Binge and Purge Manifesto
It’s really not all that complicated. Here are three simple rules to follow: 1. Consume less than 100 grams of carbs a day, and target your carbohydrate consumption around your workouts.
Meaning, consume slow-digesting and preferably complex/fibrous carbohydrates anywhere between one-and-a-half to two hours before your workout, and immediately post-workout consume quickly digesting (preferably glucose-containing) carbohydrates. This protocol ensures that you control your insulin levels throughout the day and only peak them at the most opportune time, which is immediately after working out! Your muscle cells have priority post-workout, so an insulin spike brought about through the consumption of quickly digesting carb sources (such as vitargo or waxy maize) upon completion of your workout will ensure that the nutrients are shuttled to your muscle cells rather than your fat cells. Awesome. Furthermore, keeping carbohydrate intake relatively low throughout the rest of the day will lay the foundation for a fat-burning environment and the release of natural growth hormone. 2. One day a week you get to binge.
Eat as much as you want. Eat whatever you want. You heard me right. Eat like a pig to shed body fat! Heresy? Sure sounds like it, but let me explain…The goal here is to hit the “reset” button on your metabolism. A huge caloric (especially carbohydrate) surplus can elevate leptin levels and boost t-3 and t-4 hormone output for up to 72 hours. So through the means of a once-a-week binge, we are boosting our basal metabolic rate to ensure that our body does not adapt to our caloric (carbohydrate) deficit that we put ourselves in throughout the week. This is precisely the premise behind my Metabolic Reset eBook
(one of four eBooks included in our bundle package). Check it out for the full protocol and meal planning guide. 3. The day after you binge, you fast
. That’s 16 to 24 hours of consuming nothing but water. Now when I first present this idea to people, they are always quite skeptical. “Isn’t that just starving yourself?” is a typical response I get. Let me be very clear; fasting is NOT starving yourself. Fasting is actually one of the most healthful and wholesome activities that you can do for yourself, not only to shed body fat, but to ensure long-term health and longevity. There is no greater detox than a water fast. Think of it as a purification process because when you fast, that’s exactly what’s going on. Your body finally has a chance to rid itself of all the toxins and chemicals that you bring in from eating, and your digestive system finally gets a chance to rest! Furthermore, fasting has been proven to increase lipolysis (that’s fat burning), boost natural growth hormone, and even aid in the prevention and warding off of cancer-causing free radicals. If you want even more of the super scientificals of fasting and learn how to implement the perfect fast to shed body fat, again check out our eBook bundle package
I’ll repeat, fasting is not starving yourself.
A twenty- four hour fast is a wholesome purification process that I recommend each and every healthy person seeking to optimize their health and wellbeing.
I’m not going to lie, however; fasting is tough. You will get hungry. Embrace it! Over time, you will notice it becomes easier, and I will even bet that you’ll begin to enjoy your fasted state – as you will feel more alert and lively! This is due to the nervous system shift that takes place from your parasympathetic nervous system (the one you put yourself in when you eat food and your body is ready for rest and recuperation) to your sympathetic nervous system (which is your alert and lively
“fight or flight” nervous system). That’s right when you are fasted, you are going to enter into a sympathetic nervous system, which will have you feeling attentive and “on the hunt” as Ori Hoffmeckler describes it in his book entitled The Warrior Diet
(yet another fantastic read for anyone interested in the benefits of fasting).
Three simple rules. But simple does not mean easy. It takes discipline to follow my Binge and Purge Manifesto, but the results will speak for themselves. Be sure to head over to ABS-SCIENCE.COM
and pick up the updated copy of my Metabolic Reset eBook and/or eBook bundle package.
Now let’s get out of the kitchen and head to the gym…
I’m going to lay it out right now; traditional “cardio” training is absolutely NOT the most effective type of exercise for fat loss. As a matter of fact, I would rank jogging (or trudging as most people seem to do) on a treadmill at the bottom of the barrel for effective fat loss training. After all, it’s called “the treadmill to nowhere” for a reason…
If you want to look like an athlete, then you have to train like an athlete.
Meaning you are going to have to pick heavy things up, put them back down, and bust your ass sideways, if you want to make any sort of tangible progress. Enter metabolic conditioning.
Metabolic conditioning, or “metcon”, has actually been around since the 1960s, I have an extensive blog post on it here! Check it out.
As far as I’m concerned, when it comes to hacking off body fat at an unprecedented rate, I will return to metcon again and again before just about anything else. It’s THAT effective.
Metabolic conditioning, specifically through the use of kettlebell complexes, creates an incredible amount of systemic fatigue and stress on the system. The greater the stress, the greater the potential adaptation, and the faster your body fat melts off. This is quite evidence-based, both anecdotally and objectively. Metabolic Conditioning = Moderate to Heavy Strength Efforts + Elevated Cardiovascular Stress
Metabolic conditioning work is often short, intense, and unforgiving. Make no mistake, this type of conditioning will test your merit and humble even the most able-bodied athletes. Embrace the pain. Focus on it, and maintain poise under the pressure. DO NOT allow form to falter under fatigue at any costs!
The beauty of kettlebell complexes for metcon work is that they allow you to switch between muscle groups and energy systems so that you do not smoke any muscle group too much at one time, yet keep the system (lungs, heart, kidneys, etc.) working and under prolonged stress.
I could continue to type the hype of metcon until my fingers fall off, but I’d rather you try it for yourself. You’ll be a believer soon enough. And you’ll thank me later…
Oh, and one last thing…
Once the body fat is off, then it’s time to start carving out those abs. I have also included a variety of videos highlighting my personal favorite ab-ripping exercises for developing both a chiseled midsection, as well as a strong and functional core.
You can’t ever say that I don’t give out milk for free. This blog post is one of my greatest compilations of complex and core-strengthening work to date. But if you want to learn how to put it all together (which at the end of the day is the most valuable component), then check out my Metabolic Conditioning eBook or the ABS-SCIENCE eBook bundle package
. You won’t regret it. As a matter of fact, I promise you that it will be one of the best investments you have ever made in yourself.
And now for your viewing pleasure… (or pain)…
Post any comments or questions you have below! Enjoy!