The truth about Abs and what the magazines DON’T want you to know!

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So, yesterday, I sent out an email to my group regarding just how important nutrition is in terms of your overall health and well being as well as giving them a homework assignment. I got some very good feedback about this post and if you haven’t already subscribed to my mailing list and are receiving these emails, then I suggest you do so by filling in the form of the right of this page (You’ll also get a free copy of the fitness manifesto ebook for doing so, it’s a win win situation!)

Anyway, If you know a bit about me from reading my blog or following me on social media, you also know that apart from being a totally obsessed fitness geek and combat sport fan/fighter, I also have a penchant in dabbling in the world of entrepreneurship – more specifically, online business. When you get involved in the online business world, one goal seems to stick out like a bare ass in a monastery more than any other, to have a 6 figure income. Well I feel that the 6 figure income goal in fitness is the 6 pack (what is it about the number 6?). Everyone wants sexy six pack abs to the point that every cover of every issue of mens health or mens fitness has a headline akin to “melt away fat and get those 6 pack abs in 6 weeks”. Honestly, every issue seems to have a new way to get abs, but they’re almost always the same as the last and yet, their success in selling magazines must come from having those very emotive headlines on heir magazine covers which goes to show one thing, we’re obsessed about having 6 pack abs.

The trouble is, what most of the magazines and infomercials selling the latest, hyped up, ab exercise machines fail to tell you is that actual exercise plays a minor role in seeing your 6 pack than your diet does! Yes, there are certain exercises that will benefit you when it comes to getting an elusive set of Bruce Lee style wash board abs, but it’s only 30% of the formula for abdominal success – the other 70% comes in the form of your diet. As the old adage in fitness states, “Abs are made in the kitchen – not in the gym!”.

Everyone has abs – yes even you. You may not be able to see yours but anatomically, you have a group of muscles that make up the abdominal muscle groups. Now, you may have a spare tyre but your group of abdominal muscles are made from the abbreviation TIRE. These shown in the diagram below and are your Transverse Abdominis, Internal Abdominal Obliques, Rectus Abdominis and your External Abdominal Obliques.

abdominal-muscles-anatomy

(Click to enlarge)

Interestingly, from a functional point of view, especially if you’re an athlete, it’s the transverse abdominis that is the most important of the set due to its stabilising and protecting effect but it’s the rectus abdominis everyone wants to see because they’re the “6 pack” muscle.

Remember, They’re muscles! And in order for them to grow in size, you must train them as any other muscle in your body. You simply wouldn’t do 100’s of sets of bicep curls every day and expect them to grow in size so why do most people expect to be able to do 100 ab crunches every day and expect to see their abs grow too?  They require rest and a good diet just like any other muscle group in your body.

So let’s talk about diet. Diet, as I have already stated, makes up 70% of the ab formula. The fact that you can’t see your abs right now isn’t because you don’t “have” abs. We’ve already established that you do. Granted they may not be full and will need to grow through training but the reason you can’t see them is the layer of subcutaneous fat between your skin and your muscle. This is the fat you will need to lose to see your abs. The fat that you can pinch, the subcutaneous fat, is the stubborn fat that is harder to get rid of due to poor blood flow. The fat you can’t pinch but is still there is visceral fat and can be burned more easier than subcutaneous fat which requires more emphasis on diet.

Eating a diet rich in protein, quality fats and carbohydrates are essential as eating too much of the wrong type of foods including sugars, processed carbohydrates and excess fat or trans fats and hydrogenated fats will inhibit the loss of subcutaneous fat. I won’t get into diet in detail in this post since it is covered in The Fitness Manifesto ebook

Now, here’s some bad news. Some people find this incredibly hard because of their genetic make up and gender. Some men find it harder to lose their love handles because of fat receptors and some women find it harder to lose the lower ab fat. But what exactly are fat receptors? Well, without getting into too much scientific detail, receptors either aid fat break down (lipolysis) or hinder fat break down. In stubborn areas of fat, chances are you have too many of the wrong kind of receptors, Alpha 2  Receptors, that are making it harder to lose that last bit of fat.

You can promote the burning of the stubborn fats though. Supplementing your diet with things like green tea extract or Yohimbine HCL for example have been shown to be able to” shut off” the receptors that inhibit fat loss thus making it slightly easier to lose that stubborn subcutaneous fat as well as carbohydrate management and eating foods that promote your metabolic rate.

So ultimately, the goal is to get your bodyfat down in order to see your abs. Your body fat % will determine this and whilst it is not the most accurate gauge, here’s a picture that will help you determine where you may be sitting at right now and where you need to be in order to reach your ab goals.

bodyfat percentages

(Click to enlarge)

So, in Conclusion. we can take away the following points from this blog post

  • Getting a visible 6 pack is 70% diet 30% training
  • 100’s of sit ups every day is not effective. Train them like any other muscle group
  • Solid nutrition and rest is important for growth and repair of the abdominal muscles with an emphasis on proteins, branch chain amino acids and good quality sleep/rest
  • Lowering your body fat is the most important element in seeing your abs. To do this, sound nutrition principles and training principles to burn fat MUST be followed – If you are unsure of these. The Fitness Manifesto ebook would be a great place to start or you can contact me for help
  • The magazines just want to sell you their issues by coming out with the latest and greatest way to get abs in 6 weeks… the principles are the same, they haven’t changed
  • All the informercials for all the latest and crazy ab machines are just mostly hype and I guarantee you that all of them come with a nutrition guide and have a disclaimer that successful users of their equipment followed a sound nutritional plan – THAT IS THE KEY NOT THE EQUIPMENT!

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About the Author Fahad

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