Anybody can get some guns, die hards get a six-pack!
I know that summer is getting closer when people start to ask me how they can get a six-pack. You know when the abs show in little squares, also known as a washboard. A lot of people dream of showing off a six-pack on the beach (like Italian natural bodybuilder and friend Cristian Guastella does here). But to get one you need to do more than just sit-ups… a six-pack is mainly made in the kitchen!
Last week a whole discussion was ignited on my FaceBook page. The subject? This picture of some Korean athletes and me, which was taken last year in Miami.We all lift up our shirts to proudly show our six-packs. Some people think it was Photoshopped or that we have muscle-implants. This is not true. We all worked hard to get those abs. In order to get them to pop like this, you need three things: strong abs, low body fat percentage and an amazingly clean diet. Those three have to work together or your beautiful six-pack will stay hidden.
Of course you need something to show in the first place: abs! And you get them by training hard. My top tips: sit-ups (for your rectus abdominis), reverse crunch (for the lower part of your abs) and hanging leg raise with a twist (for your obliques).
But even super strong abs don’t guarantee a washboard stomach. Even in very athletic people you can see vertical ‘cuts’ on their flat belly (very beautiful!), but still no six-pack. That is still hidden behind a layer of fat and water between the skin and the muscle. To get rid of that, you will have to torch the fat, with cardio. Run, bike, spin, dance… anything that will get you out of breath will help! And focusing on your abs while doing it will help give this an edge. I often remind the people in my spinning classes: put tension on your abs! That will stop you bouncing on your saddle as well…
Strictly speaking a six-pack. Picture found on Google.
A friend who described is stomach like “hospitality bump”, also commentated on the picture of the Koreans and me on my FaceBook page. And fair is fair: he does a lot of exercise but still has quite a belly. He is right: the hospitality industry has a lot to do with that, mainly the consumption of alcoholic beverages like beer and wine. Accompanied with bit size snacks, cheese platters and bread baskets… you know, the things we serve at parties.
A lot of times when the fat is concentrated on the stomach it is visceral fat. And the worst thing about that isn’t that it stops your abs from showing. Visceral fat is the most unhealthy form of fat storage on the body, mostly around the organs. It is associated with high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.
The fastest way to get rid of visceral fat, that ‘hospitality bump’, I know is Sportfasting. Especially man who have both athletic endurance and a belly will lose kilos of fat in the 10 day course. (Woman also lose a lot of fat, but because with us it is stored on different parts of the body, the fat loss isn’t as concentrated on the belly.)
But after the course you will still have to say ‘no’ to beer and cheese platters. Once you made the ‘metabolic switch’ and maintain it, you will blast the fat from your body. And you will still be able to snack, just choose pistachio nuts.
Like I said at the start: a six-pack is mainly created in the kitchen. I teach 10 spinning classes a week, I am training to race a 5k in my home town running event, I get a lot of exercise while working out my personal training clients and I do weight training because I love it. But my six-pack isn’t popping like it does on competition day (I would like it to, but it isn’t). And if I wouldn’t watch my diet, it would disappear all together, no matter how much exercise I get.
In order to show of those abs you worked so hard during your beach holiday, you will have to eat clean, not processed foods. Lots of lean protein, like fish, chicken, bison, egg whites. Unsaturated fat, from olive oil and those pistachio nuts. Learn to love vegetables, green ones preferably. Take carbs in small portions, and stay away from the processed stuff. Eat fruit and complex carbs like whole wheat products, brown rice, sweet potatoes. This will give you still plenty of options for a delicious meal, the main ingredient is creativity.
And mind you salt intake, it comes with water retention that will stop your muscles from showing. The days before a competition I even cook my rice in distilled water to avoid any mineral salts. But a warning is in place: I do this only a couple of days and only for a special occasion like a competition or photo shoot. Any longer and it will be unhealthy.