How To Get Abs: Five Cold, Hard Truths

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HowtoGetAbsMost young men walk in the gym with dreams of looking like a bodybuilder, NFL wide receiver, or maybe even a UFC fighter. Trainees may desire different levels of musculature, but most of them want the one centerpiece that all great physiques have in common: washboard abs, also known as a “six pack.”

Having shredded abs is an admirable goal. But there are some cold, hard truths you should embrace before hanging all your hopes and dreams on the status of your midsection. You’ll be much less frustrated if you keep some of these things in mind.

1. Diet is THE Key to Six-Pack Abs:

Some sectors of the fitness industry continue to perpetuate the myth that abdominal training is the key to having a washboard stomach. We’ve all seen that infomercial with the incredibly lean, tanned, well-oiled fitness model using some kind of gadget designed to train the abs. And you can look like him for a few easy payments of 20 or 30 bucks.

You might as well hold on to your credit card, because the key to having visible abdominal muscles is having a low percentage of body fat. And the key to having low body fat is diet. Yes, exercise definitely helps–I’d highly recommend lifting weights combined with some form of cardiovascular conditioning. But it is virtually impossible to do enough exercise to overcome a poor diet.

Getting really lean will require you to put as much planning in your eating as you do your training. There are several effective diet strategies you can use (I prefer an intermittent fasting approach), but all of them will require you to use more calories than you consume for several weeks (or even months, depending on your current level of fitness).

2. Genetics Play a Role in Visible Abs:

Like it or not, some guys will have a much easier time achieving and/or maintaining six pack abs than others. Some men have low body fat levels because of their parents–they are genetically “programmed” to be lean and can stay that way with minimal dietary adjustments. We’ve all met that guy who eats a steady diet of fast food, trains sporadically, and still looks incredible with his shirt off.

The role of genetics doesn’t stop at overall body fat levels–it also has a huge influence in where you store your fat. Men naturally tend to have more fat around the midsection (women tend to carry it on their hips/thighs). But there is great variation in the proportion of fat we store around our stomach vs. other parts of the body. Some men can be quite lean through the arms and legs yet have large waistlines. Others store fat more evenly. These differences in fat distribution mean some can have visible abdominal muscles with a higher body fat percentage than others.  Some will have to get their body fat level very low in order to have visible abs.

3. A Picture is Worth a Thousand Crunches:

Remember the picture of that bodybuilder you wanted to look like? Chances are he doesn’t look like that 99% of the time. Bodybuilders, fitness models, and even actors usually spend several weeks preparing for a single show, photo shoot, or scene. They undergo a strict diet and training regimen that, if properly executed, will get them to their desired level of leanness at the right time.

Hugh Jackman: Ripped and Thirsty
Hugh Jackman: Ripped and Thirsty

The “shredded” look often requires more than getting lean–subcutaneous fluid/water has to be carefully manipulated to make muscle definition more visible. Hugh Jackman began intentionally dehydrating himself 36 hours before his shirtless scene in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Bodybuilders often resort to using diuretics drugs, sometimes with fatal consequences.

To summarize, the strong physiques you see in magazines and movies are often temporary illusions–you may be looking at someone who is weakened by dehydration and calorie/carbohydrate restriction.

4. Getting Shredded May Lower Your Testosterone:

Here’s something else you should know: extremely low body fat levels (or the process required to get there) can have disastrous effects on testosterone levels. One study followed a natural bodybuilder as he prepared for a contest. He began with 14% body fat and worked his way down to 4.5% body fat over a period of several weeks. His testosterone went down 80% by the time he had reached his goal–80%!

It is incredibly difficult to naturally maintain strength and vitality when body fat drops into the lower single digits. This is one of the many reasons anabolic steroids have such great appeal to those who get ripped for a living. These synthetic hormones help offset the body’s natural response to several weeks’ worth of calorie restriction.

It is possible to diet and train your way to 5% body fat with no “pharmaceutical assistance,” but be prepared for a serious drop in testosterone.

5. Women May Not Care:

Let’s just assume you are able to get completely shredded without losing your interest in the ladies (remember that testosterone thing). Chances are they will not be nearly as impressed as you had planned. Yes, most women appreciate a lean, muscular physique. But don’t expect them to line up just to look at your abs. It just doesn’t work that way.


Attraction tends to be a complex thing for women, and most of them will simultaneously weigh several factors before giving you their attention. Personality, sense of humor, communication skills, success/ambition, and a long list of other characteristics are going to be more important to her than your shredded six-pack.


Believe it or not, I’m not trying to discourage you from pursuing physical excellence.  Find a good program.  Go to the gym. Clean up your diet. Lose that gut. Put on some muscle. Build some strength. Your genetic makeup may allow you to get a six-pack with a reasonably low body fat level.  But you may need to settle for a good shoulder-to-waist ratio and flat stomach.  Don’t despair: you’ll look and feel great at this level of fitness.  And you’ll be within striking distance of the “shredded” look if you decide you want to take it that far.

Fighter Abs Review (Andrew Raposo)

I’ve had the opportunity to look over Andrew Raposo’s Fighter Abs program. Let me start this review by explaining what you get if you order this system. You’ll be directed to a download page where you’ll see the following:

Fighter Abs Program Components

Beginner Workout

The Coaching Video Workouts:

This page has videos divided into three levels of difficulty: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. There are 19 videos total with a pretty good variety of exercises. These videos are well done and you’ll be abele to see exactly how to do the prescribed exercises.

Fighter Abs Exercise Manual:

This pdf file is a complete illustrated guide to the exercise program. It includes both pictures and step-by-step descriptions of the movements you’ll be doing (stance, body positioning etc.). You could easily print this out if you want, but I had an easy time reading it in digital form.

12 Week Blueprint:

The previous components I mentioned show you how to do the exercises. The blueprint shows you how to put it all together–it is a complete “road map” of how to set up your training schedule. It includes tips for getting started, how to incorporate the Fighter Abs routine in an existing program, choosing the phase you should start with, etc.


Mobility Video

Get Mobility Like a Fighter Videos: These warm up exercises are designed to help with flexibility/mobility. Doing these movements will keep your joints healthy and should help with tight muscles or even poor posture.

Mobility Exercise Manual: This is the illustrated guide to the mobility exercises. Like the main exercise manual, you’ll see descriptions/instructions on how to properly execute the movements.

Mindset Solution:  This document is all about the mental aspects of training.  You’ll learn how to condition your mind for training and you’ll find some of these principles carry over to other aspects of life.

4 Week Mobility Blueprint: Raposo explains how to incorporate this mobility work into your routine over the course of a month. I’m guessing you would notice a marked improvement in just a few weeks, especially if you’ve never worked on your mobility (or haven’t done it in a long time).

7-Day Rapid Fat Loss Accelerator Guide: Needless to say, no one will see your abdominal muscles if they are covered in fat. This guide shows you how to kick-start your fat loss if that is one of your goals. You’ll be manipulating your calories and macronutrients (carbohydrates, etc.) for maximum results. There is a limit to how much you can lose in a week, but this will teach you the limits of what can be done in a short period of time and maybe even motivate you to keep working towards getting leaner.

Supplement Guide: As the name implies, this is a the author’s recommended supplements. He recommends some specific brands (as most fitness professionals do), but I’d suggest you just stick to the basics and find less expensive brands.


Not everyone who trains does so with the idea of looking like a bodybuilder. Some find the lean, athletic, powerful physiques of MMA fighters to be more appealing. Fighter Abs is the kind of training that is more in line with that goal.

I should mention something here: this program is not some “short cut” to having six-pack abs–there is no such thing, and anyone who tells you otherwise just isn’t being honest. Having visible abs comes from having low body fat along with a few other factors (genetics, etc.). I’ve mentioned MMA fighters, and they are the perfect examples of this–some of them have washboard abs, others don’t–even when they are in top condition.

I think this program is put together well and would be beneficial for the following:

*People who want to add some variety in their training. You could incorporate these exercises into an existing program to help with core/abdominal strength, conditioning, and mobility.

*Trainees who want an alternative to the typical bodybuilding routine. This may mean you want a break from lifting weights or you just want to explore another type of training altogether.

*Martial artists who want a program that will help them with their basic strength/conditioning. I think this would be especially good for beginners who need to develop the basic strength.

*People who are interested in studying self-defense. This isn’t a self-defense program per se, but learning some of these movements would be useful for that purpose.

*Trainees who want to ad some variety to their abdominal training. It is easy to get bored with crunches, etc. This program may help you stay motivated to train abs and core muscles.

If any of the above describes you then I think Fighter Abs would be a good investment for your library of training information. Please CLICK HERE if you’d like to get this program for only 20 bucks (a great value).

Advanced Giant Set for Abdominal Muscles

I was going through some old papers today and I ran across this advanced giant set for abs.  I printed it out from some website back in the 90’s (not sure if the before-mentioned website even exists anymore).

Here it is:

Hanging Leg Raises
Hanging Leg Raises

Hanging leg raises–15 reps, 2 second intervals

Hanging bent-knee raises–5 reps, 1 second intervals

Lying 6″ leg raises–30 reps, 1 second intervals

Rest for 15 seconds, then

Lying 6″ leg raises–20 reps, 1 second intervals

Reverse crunches–20 reps, 1 second intervals

1/4 twisting sit-ups–35 reps, 2 second intervals

Rest for 10 seconds, then

1/4 sit-ups–35 reps, 2 second intervals

Crunches–20 reps, 0.5 second intervals

Unless specified, no rest between sets.  Make sure to breath out during the contracting phase of the motion.

What I like about this is you progress from difficult to easier movements as your abs get fatigued.

Ab Finishers 2.0 Review (Mike Whitfield)

AbFinishersReviewI’ve had a chance to look over Ab Finishers 2.0 by Mike Whitfield.  Let me start this review with a summary of what you get when you order the program:

The Ab Finishers 2.0 Manual*

This illustrated guide presents the overall program.  The concept is pretty simple–a combination of exercises you can do after your weight training session to burn extra calories, do some cardiovascular conditioning and take care of your abdominal/core work (you could also do these exercises on a day you don’t lift weights).  The training protocols are divided into these main categories: primer, hybrid, jump rope, bodyweight, ladder, and dungeon (these categories are explained in the manual).

Metabolic Shock 2.0 Manual*

These workouts combine several techniques in order to burn calories through intense, time efficient training.  The exercises are illustrated and the manual includes printable workout sheets.

Finishers XT Manual*

This training manual includes bodyweight exercises, compound lifting, metabolic conditioning and fat-burning finishers.  This looks like a more advanced level of training and could be used for those who want to focus their entire workout on burning fat/calories.

*These three manual have follow-along videos you can watch online.

Ab Finisher Videos
Ab Finisher Videos

Sprint Conditioning for Abs Manual

This guide explains how you can incorporate sprinting into your training.  The workouts have you alternate different types of sprinting with abdominal/core exercises.

14-Day Meal Plans for Men/Women

Two weeks of meal plans for those who need help getting started in a healthy, low calorie diet.

8-week Quick Start Guide

This is a simple checklist to help you through the first two months of training.


I really like the concept behind Ab Finishers.  Even devoted trainees have a tendency to neglect both cardiovascular and abdominal training–both can be tedious.  This program allows you to take care of both in just a few minutes.  I think this would be a good investment for those who want an efficient way to burn extra calories and effectively train the abdominal/core muscles.  Just CLICK HERE if you are interested in learning more about Ab Finishers 2.0.  Please use my links if this review has helped you.

Hugh Jackman “The Wolverine”

I’ve always thought Hugh Jackman has one of the best physiques out there as far as actors go.  He is lean and muscular, but not massive.  Below is the first look of him from the new movie “The Wolverine” (the movie won’t be out until July 2013).

I’d recommend the Renegade Diet if you are looking for a diet plan to get lean.



Jackman looking shredded Picture: 20th Century Fox

Best Abdominal Exercises Review

Hopefully you are aware of the importance of having a strong core.  It goes beyond having a “six pack” (which actually has more to do with body fat level than abdominal training).  Strong abs and obliques are crucial for injury prevention and are the source of power for many athletic moves.

But let’s face it: training abs can get boring.  That’s where The Best Abdominal Exercises You’ve Never Heard Of comes in handy.  This eBook has 77 different exercises, divided into basic (all training levels), intermediate, and advanced.

I appreciate the detailed instructions he gives for each movement (explaining common errors in execution, etc.).  You’ll also notice you can do these exercises without any special equipment.

This training guide will only cost you $30, making it much cheaper than those worthless ab machines you see advertised on TV.  Just click here to check out this product–you won’t find a better guide for abdominal training.


Summer Shape: get ready for the beach

The weather is heating up as summer draws near.  This means many of you will want to get your bodies ready for wearing swimsuits before heading to the beach, pool, or lake.  There’s still time for you to make your transformation as long as you implement the correct program.

Just remember that diet and training is the way to go–don’t waste your time on pills or ab machines.

I can recommend some different programs based on your primary goals:

1. Fat Loss–the fast track.

Joel Marion’s Xtreme Fat Loss is probably going to be the fastest way to lose fat.  His program incorporates intermittent fasting with some intense workouts.  I can’t really think of a faster way for you to lose the winter pounds.

Flavia Del Monte

2. For Women

There are two programs I currently recommend for women. Flavia Del Monte’s Curvalicious has been my top seller to date.

Another I can recommend is Bikini Body Workouts by Jen Ferruggia (a great value at only 40 bucks).

3.  For Mass

Let’s say you are a beginner wanting to put on 10 or more pounds before hitting the beach.  I’d recommend Jason Ferruggia’s Muscle Gaining Secrets for new trainees.  If you are more advanced and looking to break some muscle building plateaus I’d recommend Ben Pakulski’s Mass Intentions (MI 40).

4.  Final Touches

Some of you are already pretty close to your ideal summer shape.  Maybe you just need to drop a little of that “stubborn” fat or add a little extra lean mass (or both).  I’d highly recommend the Renegade Diet (also by Jason Ferruggia) if this is your situation.


Suitcase Deadlift

Below is a video demonstration of the suitcase deadlift.

I think the first time I ever really noticed this movement was when I reviewed the Savage Strength Training System.  This movement can be done with a kettlebell, barbell, or even a dumbbell.

I did this exercise for the first time last night.  I really like the way it hits the oblique/core muscles–something I want to work on.  As mentioned in the video, suitcase deadlifts can also help you improve your grip strength. This also hit my shoulders, traps and upper back.  I plan to incorporate this lift as a regular part of my training.

Another thing I like about it is the ability to train muscles effectively with less weight than I would use with the standard/sumo deadlift.