98…99….100. Phew, my abs hurt. Now 100 more crunches and I am done.
Six packs coming soon baby. Yeah!
How many of you can relate to this?
We all have been there.Everyone I know wants abs. Abs are thought to be a badge of being strong, healthy, and not to forget, sexy. In fact, every “fitness gurus” tells you, if you want abs, you need to crunch them. Do some sit-ups and work them up. This mentality leads people to do countless numbers of crunches, sit ups and other intense abs workouts everyday.
Doing crunches and sit-ups all day is just pointless. If you overwork a muscle, it doesn’t get sufficient time to recover and heal itself, forget growing bigger and stronger. This leads to internal injuries and hernia (a severe bleeding inside a muscle).
Your abdominal muscles or abs are like all the other muscle group in your body. They tear up and get fatigue after you work them and requires at least 48 hours of recovery time to grow stronger. You don’t train your biceps, legs, chest and shoulders everyday, do you? Then why abs?
Here is the reality. Are you ready for the truth? Drumrolls …
The Truth About Six Pack Abs
Until there is a thick layer of fat above your belly, it doesn’t matter how many crunches or sit-up you do, you abs won’t pop up.
Yes, it will be stronger but unless you get rid of your body fat, your abs will be too shy to say hi to the world.
In most men, visible abs is obtain at a body fat percentage of below 10% and in women below 15%
But don’t feel sad. Having visible abs, however, just means that that person has a low body fat percentage. That’s it. It doesn’t mean that person is stronger or healthier or faster than the rest of us. Visible abs equals lower body fat percentage. Period.
Have you seen a shirtless skinny guy? Do you remember how he looked? Maybe this will help.
The guy in above picture has abs, right? So does this mean that he is healthier or stronger than rest of us. Perhaps not.
Now look at the picture below.
These men are few of the toughest players in the hockey league. Do you see abs in anyone of their belly expect for the one?
The point I am trying to make is that only because a person has visible abs doesn’t mean they are in a pinnacle level of fitness. Many factors like muscle strength, endurance, resilience, stress level, and emotional and spiritual well being determines a person’s level of health and fitness.
With that out of the way, having your abs pop up is definitely sexy. Thanks to the movies and magazines featuring sexy, muscular and photoshoped celebrities with ripped bodies and abs, people desire abs more than ever. In fact, more than their health.
So what should I do, Atul? I am glad you asked.
The Real Way To Get Solid Abs Without Any Supplements
Here is the short version: Abs are made in the kitchen. Clean up your diet. Throw away those sugary junk foods and snacks. Buy some fresh veggies and fruits in bulk so that you don’t have to waste your willpower every time you go shopping. Train your abs like any other muscle and sleep well for full 7-8 hours.
Here is the longer and more detailed version:
1. Clean up your diet.
I have said it many many times and I am going to say it again, if you want a sexy muscular body that lasts, the first place to look at is in your kitchen. You cannot out train a bad meal. It doesn’t matter how harder and how long you train, if your plate is not clean and healthy, you’re abs aren’t gonna pop up. Some of the skinny guys may say, “I have abs and I eat whatever I want. Atul, you suck.” I just want to say this, a skinny guy with abs is same as a big girl with boobs.
2. Stay away from junk foods and snacks.
These are your dream crushers, fat builders and abs killers. All these crap are loaded with sugar and gluten with high glycemic index and glycemic load. It spikes up your blood sugar level and leads to sugar crash, which in-turn tempts you to eat more of these craps to balance the sugar level. And the cycle goes on and on. It’s a vicious cycle.Psychology Today has a great article on psychology behind our sugar cravings.
3. Buy healthy foods in bulk.
Most of the people I have talked with get extremely motivated after the talk. They have a very healthy meal, go for a morning walk, say no to junk foods for the first few times. But when they go to the supermarket to buy their groceries, they get carried away by the perfectly arranged packets of their favorite chocolate bar and those cold boxes of ice cream and cookies, and so they give up. And who wouldn’t? Almost 77% of the items at groceries store are loaded with sugars and gluten. It’s a torture house for anyone trying to be healthy.
That’s why, buy everything in bulk so that you don’t have fight with yourself again and again to stop looking at the crappy items station at the groceries store. Plus, you can even get a discount in buying in bulk. Double win.
4. Track what you’re eating.
I am not big fan of counting calories but for all the beginners, counting calories and have a rough understanding how much calories you eat and especially, what kind of calories you intake can be very liberating. And while taking about counting calories, MyFitnessPal is definitely my favorite app. It is available in both Android and iOS. But, if you want things simple, you can always keep a physical food diary in a notebook.
5. Train your abs like any other muscles.
Your abdominal muscles, like any other muscle groups gets fatigued after training. It needs optimum nutrition (proteins, fats and carbs) and sufficient recovery time to grow stronger and bigger. Training it everyday without rest will not give you abs faster, in fact the opposite.So, train your abs alternately with sufficient rest and nutrition in between. For beginners, I recommend exercises like plank, leg raise and torture twist for full abs workout. They are difficult, but 3x more effective than traditional crunches and sit-ups.
6. Get 7-8 hours of sleep daily.
This is one of the most crucial area that most people, especially beginners, neglect. People think sleep is a waste of time. Most of them feel proud when they sleep less than 5 hours, like some sort of medal. Well, let me burst the bubble for you, sleeping less has many many downsides. Plus, the feeling of being productive is just an illusion. Memory formation, analyzing information, muscle relaxation and recovery, everything important happens during sleep. Even if you are not into exercise and healthy living, which probably you are not since you are reading this blog, getting 7-8 hours of sleep is mandatory.
Getting visible abs is not easy. It takes intense hard work, tenacity and patience. But with proper diet, training and rest, you can achieve it
Be Healthy. Stay Sexy.