Drop the Body Fat to Show the Abs
In addition to weight training and the usual cardio, dance may be the most enjoyable and effective while yoga can aid in developing the abs. Most men avoid training that improves flexibility. Yoga postures strengthen the abs, and controlling breathing through pranayama has many benefits. Besides the typical “abs,” the muscles of the pelvic floor are strengthened. Ask 10 men in the gym if they do Kegel exercises to strengthen their pelvic muscles. Five will probably have the gym manager toss you out for being a creep; the other five will laugh and say the wife did Kegels when pregnant. Failure to strengthen the pelvic muscles will result in an imbalance that can increase the risk of injury, hemorrhoids, etc.6,7
Now, what good is a set of abs when nobody can see them? Well, a person is healthier, stronger and probably a bit tougher. However, if the goal is to show off the results, it is necessary to be able to see the abs. For men, this will require dropping body fat below 11 percent or so. To really show the abs, body fat needs to be around 7 percent or less. There are many different diets— it really depends on which one will follow. Nonetheless, it is critical to fat loss to keep calories at or below maintenance to allow the body to tap into stored fat reserves to make the abs apparent.
Time for the take-home— even if you do it every day, just doing ab exercises for 10 or 15 minutes will not create a six-pack. Like any exercise, it will strengthen the muscles doing the work, but work and hypertrophy are not so tightly linked as to suggest that a dozen sets of 10 reps will promote bigger, more obvious abs. The muscles that form the core, including the pelvic floor muscles, can be undertrained or overtrained. Approach the muscles of the core like you would other muscle groups. Keep a log, monitor your diet and training and correct the mistakes we all make along the way. Children and teenagers have abs because they are young, active and amped-up on Diet Mountain Dew. Age, inactivity and overeating keep many adults from ever removing the T-shirt in public. Follow a common sense path. If you ever see an informercial for an ab-developing device, perform 10 reps of turning off the tube and then go to bed— you are up too late.
Sample FitnessRx Ultimate Ab, Fat-loss Diet
5:30 a.m. 16 ounces water, 200 milligrams of caffeine (from 2 cups of sugar-free coffee or thermogenic fat-loss supplement), a sugar-free/low-carb whey protein isolate shake (30 to 40 grams of whey protein isolate), a branched-chain amino acid supplement (preferably a 2:1:1 leucine, isoleucine, valine ratio)
6:30 a.m. Exercise
8:00 a.m. End of exercise
12:30 p.m. 9 ounces of salmon, sautéed spinach or other vegetable and small salad
with extra-virgin olive oil dressing
3:00 p.m. Unsweetened yogurt, a handful of almonds
6:00 p.m. 8 to 16 ounces of lean steak, steamed broccoli and cauliflower and a
small salad with extra-virgin olive oil dressing and 3 grams of fish oil capsules
8:00 p.m. Unsweetened yogurt, a handful of almonds
• During the day, drink at least 2 to 4 liters of water.
• Before bed, take a slow-acting casein powder shake or lean meat such as turkey breast.
• For best results, combine with the FitnessRx Ultimate Muscle, Fat-loss Workout and the FitnessRx Ultimate Cardio, Fat-loss Workout.
1. Donnelly JE, Blair SN, et al. American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand. Appropriate physical activity intervention strategies for weight loss and prevention of weight regain for adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 2009 Feb;41(2):459-71.
2. Mohr DR. Changes in waistline and abdominal girth and subcutaneous fat following isometric exercises. Res Q, 1965 May;36:168-73.
3. Kostek MA, Pescatello LS, et al. Subcutaneous fat alterations resulting from an upper-body resistance training program. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 2007 Jul;39(7):1177-85.
4. Katch FL, Clarkson PM, et al. Effects of sit up exercise training on adipose cell size and adiposity. Res Q, 1984;55:242-7.
5. Vispute SS, Smith JD, et al. The effect of abdominal exercise on abdominal fat. J Strength Cond Res, 2011 Sep;25(9):2559-64.
6. Hides JA, Brown CT, et al. Screening the Lumbo-pelvic Muscles for a Relationship to Injury of the Quadriceps, Hamstrings, and Adductor Muscles Among Elite Australian Football League Players. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther, 2011 Sep 4. [E-pub, ahead of print]
7. Telles S, Dash M, et al. Effect of yoga on musculoskeletal discomfort and motor functions in professional computer users. Work, 2009;33(3):297-306.