How To Get Abs: Five Cold, Hard Truths

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.

GymExpectations

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.

Wrap-up:

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.

The Key To Successful Intermittent Fasting

I jumped on the intermittent fasting bandwagon a few years ago.  I have IntermittentFastingfound it to be a very effective, practical method for losing fat or just keeping myself from getting too fat (maintenance).

Here’s my most important tip for those who want to try it:

Don’t overcompensate when you break the fast. 

In other words, you have to discipline yourself not to go crazy and overeat once the fast is over.   This one thing has been the key to whether or not I’m successful with this kind of diet.

This is true for those doing a 24 your fast every few days (Eat Stop Eat style) or for those who skip breakfast and fast through the morning (Renegade Diet style).  Regardless of strategy you have to be disciplined.

Remember this: Intermittent fasting does not “hack” your metabolism or override the basic laws of thermodynamics (calories in versus calories out ). It is one of many dietary strategies that will work as long as you can keep a negative calorie balance long enough to see the desired results.  I do believe this kind of dieting has some hormonal advantages in term of fat loss, but it is just like any other diet (or lifestyle, or eating plan, or whatever you want to call it): calories matter.

Keep this in mind and don’t sabotage your diet by gorging yourself after you fast.

Omega Body Blueprint Review John Romaniello

omegabodybluepringreviewtransformationI’ve had an opportunity to review the Omega Body Blueprint, the latest body transformation program from John Romaniello.

Let me start by telling you a little bit about the author/creator of this program:John-Romaniello-Omega-Body-Blueprint

John Romaniello (aka “Roman”) has been in the fitness industry for over 13 years.  His work has been featured in several well-known publications and he has been interviewed on fitness-related television shows.  He is also a New York Times best-selling author.  Roman specializes in fat loss and body transformation.

Now let’s talk about what you get if you decide to order the Omega Body Blueprint program (I have listed these components in the order I downloaded them–not necessarily in order of importance or in the sequence from the program website).

Component 1: Training Manual

This book begins with an explanation of hormones and their role in fat loss.  Romaniello focuses much of this information on why it gets more difficult to lose fat and how we can overcome the body’s natural resistance to getting lean.  One important strategy, he argues, is to alternate training modalities.   This allows the trainee to get the optimal benefits of several types of training (in addition to keeping things interesting).  The illustrated manual takes you through six complete weeks of training–workouts designed to maximize fat loss and overcome plateaus.

Component 2: Workout Log Sheets

These printable workout logs will allow you to follow the previous manual and keep a record of the weights you use.

NOTE: I should say something here about Roman’s workouts.  I’ve done some of them before and they are not easy–even if you are in decent shape.  This program is for those who are willing to work hard–not for those content to sit around and talk for twenty minutes in between sets.

Component 3: Nutrition Manual

Roman begins this manual with an important observation: most trainees will meticulously plan their training but fail to put even a fraction of that time and effort into planning their diet.  This is why so many people in the gym never really see visible improvements in their physiques.  He goes on to explain some of the most nutritional strategies for this program: intermittent fasting, eating certain macro nutrient combinations, etc.  I think you’ll find his advice simple and straightforward.

Component 4:  Calorie and Macro Calculator

This file includes a link to an online calculator that will show you exactly how many calories and macro nutrients (protein/fat/carbohydrates) you should be eating every day.  This feature is nice because it will take all the guesswork out of your diet.

Component 5:  Supplement Guide

As the name implies, this is a list of recommended supplements.  I greatly appreciate the fact that Romaniello does not over-emphasize supplements (he states that you can do the program without them).  Having said that, the supplements he mentions are relatively expensive in my opinion.  I’d just recommend you stick to the basics (protein, fish oil, etc.) and use brands that you trust.

Additional Products (these items below are not included in the basic Omega Body Blueprint program–you will be given the option to purchase these as an addition if you chose):

The Hormonal Response Diet (by Chad Howse)

This document is primarily about our favorite hormone–testosterone.  Optimizing this hormone, Howse argues, will help keep you lean and healthy.  It will even influence your mental health, helping you be more focused and happy.  Howse explains some dietary and supplement strategies that will help you optimize your testosterone levels naturally (he mentions intermittent fasting, for example).  He also explains why this is an important issue for women as well as men.

Overdrive Training Manual/Log Sheets:

This is a more advanced version of the training you can follow if you finish the basic program and want to take things to another level in terms of conditioning and fat loss.   This is six additional weeks of programming, which would give you twelve weeks total (including the basic program).

VIP Coaching

This option is for those who want to join the exclusive Facebook group.  This will allow you access to additional training information that is not open to the general public.

REVIEW:

I believe Roman’s strong point is fat loss–he has developed nutritional and exercise strategies that help trainees achieve levels of leanness and aesthetic beauty that they never thought possible.  The Omega Body Blueprint combines the “best of the best”–the best of everything he has learned in over a decade of studying fat loss.

I think this program would be helpful for the following:

*People that are healthy enough to train with intensity.  As I mentioned, the workouts are difficult.

*Trainees that want to overcome plateaus in fat loss and leanness.  Roman does a good job of explaining why we reaching “sticking points” when losing fat.  The diet and training will help you get past these.  This is a good program for men and women who want to lose those last few stubborn pounds that are keeping you from having your ideal physique.

*Guys/girls who are willing to follow a nutrition plan.  The diet is laid out very well, but you have to follow it for it to be effective.  Remember that diet/nutrition is responsible for most of your fat loss results.

*Trainees that want to focus 6-12 weeks on losing fat.

If any of these descriptions match you or your goals then I think the Omega Body Blueprint would be a good investment.  It is a cost effective way to get solid diet and training information (especially when compared to hiring a personal trainer).

Just CLICK HERE if you are interested in ordering this program or learning more.

omegabodyblueprintreview