Posts Tagged ‘Abs’

Just a little while back I let you guys in on some of the “secrets” to getting great abs.  Within that post I pointed out that your diet is the biggest factor in achieving a flat, tight, muscular mid-section.

You can do all the ab exercises your body can handle but, without a good nutrition plan, you won’t end up with the abs you want.  Basically what you’ll get is great abs hiding beneath a layer of body fat.  That’s a start but it’s not exactly what you’re looking for. 

Now I’d like to take things a step further, and provide you with some specifics, to help you focus on your training and diet with laser like precision and almost guaran-damn-tee that you have the abs you’ve always wanted!

Find Your Calorie Maintenance Level

There’s a helluva lot of “experts” out there who say it’s impossible to build muscle and lose fat at the same time.  While that’s definitely a topic I plan to tackle in a future post, soon, right now I’ll just state that I know it IS possible, because I’ve done it myself, on several occasions.  In fact, I’m doing it now.

But, for the purpose of this post, I think it’s safe to assume you’re a person who wants to shed some body fat as quickly as possible, while maintaining muscle, so you can uncover your abs and sport a smokin’ hot body on the beach this summer.

Now, if you’re anything like me, you don’t necessarily need or want to know every little detail but would much rather be given the “big picture” of what actually works so you can get busy taking action.

You don’t need to know how the sausage is made in order to enjoy it, right?  Actually, skip the sausage.  it won’t help you get great abs.  🙂

So allow me to give you the quick rundown of how to set up your diet to lose fat and uncover your abs.  And, since your plan of attack definitely needs to include correct and intense ab training, I’ll fill you in on the most effective ab training exercises and techniques I’ve ever used.  Trust me when I tell you, they will light your abs on fire.

The first thing you need to do is find your Calorie Maintenance Level.  In a nutshell, this is the total number of calories your body requires daily just to maintain your current weight.

If you were to eat more calories than your maintenance level, eventually you’d start to gain weight.  So, guess what would happen if you were to eat below your maintenance level… You guessed it.  you would lose weight!

This is honestly how simple losing fat/weight is.  So many people struggle because they complicate it to the extreme.  In all honesty, it’s not completely their fault.  There is SO much misinformation floating around out there that it has left people overwhelmed, confused, frustrated and clueless about how to lose fat.

Even some of the information that comes from sources with the best of intentions is misleading at the least and, sometimes, even inaccurate.  Add to that the seemingly endless plethora of people and companies that will straight up lie to you in order to fulfill their own agenda and it’s no wonder why lean, muscular bodies are so rare.

Well, you and I are going to put an end to that shit, at least for YOU, right here, right now.

Follow these simple steps to find your Calorie Maintenance Level:

  • Get an accurate reading of your current weight by weighing yourself first thing in the morning, before you’ve had anything to eat or drink
  • Multiply your weight by 14 and by 18
  • Somewhere between the two totals is your Calorie Maintenance Level

Just for example I think it may help if you see this in action.  This is how I found my current Calorie Maintenance Level, just this morning:

  • I woke up and, before I  even had a sip of water, I weighed myself.  I came in right at 220 lbs.
  • I took 220 and multiplied it by 14 for a total of 3,080 (220 x 14 = 3,080)
  • Then I multiplied 220 by 18 for a total of 3,960 (220 x 18 = 3,960)
  • Somewhere between 3,080 and 3,960 is my Calorie Maintenance Level

Now, I know what some of you are thinking.  You’re absolutely right, that is a wide range.  But, really, you just need an estimate to start with.  The most important thing isn’t where you start.  It’s where you end that matters.

However, a little common sense can go a long way.  If you’re not very active during the day, other than an hour or so of weightlifting a few times a week, then you should stay on the lower end of the calorie range.

If you’re throwing in a few sessions of high intensity cardio on top of your weight training each week (and you should if you want abs fast) then you can stay in the middle of the maintenance range.

If you have a physically demanding job, that requires you to stay on your feet and moving all day, and you’re lifting weights and doing cardio, then you should start towards the higher end of the range.

Create a Calorie Deficit

Now that you’ve found your Calorie Maintenance Level, and decided where in that range you should start, you need to create a calorie deficit.  This is simply just a fancy way of saying “eat less food”.

When trying to lose fat a mistake a lot of people make is cutting calories too low, too quickly.  You want to hang on to as much lean muscle as you possibly can therefore it’s best to start with a slight calorie deficit of only 20%.

Purely for example let’s say that you discovered your Calorie Maintenance Level is 2,800 calories a day.  In order to determine what a 20% reduction will be you simply need to complete the following basic math.

I know… I’m always having you do math and it sucks.  Trust me, if you do this right, the abs you’ll get will be well worth it! 

  • Multiply 2,800 by .20 (2.800 x .20) and you’d come up with 560
  • Subtract 560 from 2,800 (2,800 – 560) and you’re left with 2,240
  • Start eating around 2,240 calories a day to begin losing fat

This is a reasonable calorie reduction that will allow you to lose fat at the optimal rate while maintaining muscle mass.  (Provided you consume enough Protein.  More on that in just a minute.)

And what constitutes an “optimal” rate?  Glad you asked…

The majority of people should lose anywhere from 1-2 lbs. a week.  Again, the best thing to do is weigh yourself once a week, first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach.

If you’re losing any more than 2 lbs. a week then your calories are too low and you’ll most likely end up sacrificing too much muscle and strength.  If this is the case, bump up your calories about 250 a day, and weigh yourself again in a week.

If you’re losing less than 1 lb. a week then you can afford to drop your calories again, slightly.  I’m sure you want to speed up your results and actually see your abs before Christmas.  Drop 250 from your daily total and again, weigh yourself in a week.

Keep repeating this process until you find the ideal range and you’re losing 1-2 lbs. a week.  The key is to keep tweaking your calories until you find the right number for you.

One thing to consider if you have a lot of weight to lose (above 20% body fat for men and 30% for women) is that you may lose more than 2 lbs. a week initially.  That’s perfectly normal.  You’ll find that you lose weight fast at first and, as you become leaner, weight loss gradually slows down.

Advice on your muscle building/fat loss diet

If you’d like some guidance on where your calories should come from, check out this Master Food List, which shows you the foods that should make up the largest portion of your diet.

I’ll also tell you that when you’re attempting to cut fat and maintain muscle increasing your protein intake while slightly reducing carbs works very well.  You don’t need to go overboard with a keto diet, or be “carbophobic”, but a slight reduction in carbs can help you create your calorie deficit.

You DON’T want your calorie deficit to come from Protein.  Protein is essential for maintaining muscle mass while you’re on a reduced calorie diet.

As I mentioned in the first post on abs, the diet plan I highly recommend is made up of 50% Protein, 20% Carbs and 30% HEALTHY Fats.  I’ve had TREMENDOUS success with this plan and I think anyone interested in losing fat, while maintaining or even building muscle, should give it a try.

Keep Training Hard but Don’t Overdo It

Another way of creating a calorie deficit is to do more exercise.  Ideally your deficit will come from a combination of slightly increased energy expenditure (exercise) and slightly decreased calories.

However, with training there is a point of diminishing returns.  A lot of people start doing a ton of cardio in an attempt to lose fat.  They think it’s the best way to do it.  It’s not.

While cardio can and will help, you don’t need any more than a few intense sessions per week.  This is really just an extra “boost” to help the fat loss efforts you’re making through your diet.

You don’t want to do so much cardio that you burn up all of your hard earned muscle and start looking like a marathon runner.

I apologize in advance to all of the marathon runners of the world.  I have nothing against you.  I just don’t want my body to look like yours.  Thank you and God bless.

As you begin to eat below your maintenance level in calories, keep training hard in the gym and strive to use the same weight on your exercises as you’re using now, for the same number of reps.  During periods when you intentionally reduce calories it’s unlikely that you’re going to get much stronger but you should try like hell to maintain your current strength.  Doing so will ensure that you hang on to as much muscle mass as possible and that your body uses your stored fat for energy, therefore “burning” it.

To put is simply, You should let your diet do most of the work when striving for fat loss.  Create a slight calorie deficit to lose fat.  Do 3 or 4 sessions of high intensity cardio to assist with fat burning.  And, continue to lift weights with the goal of building muscle!

Now, even though your diet is responsible for at least half of your results (or lack thereof), another key piece of the puzzle is intelligent and intense ab training.  Rather than try to explain several abs exercises here, I think giving you this link to a GREAT abs routine will help you even more.

The awesome thing about this routine is it can be used by both, beginners and more advanced people, and you can even complete it at home if you needed to.

A couple of quick suggestions to help you build your abs:

  • Believe it or not, you need to train your abs (directly and indirectly) anywhere from 5 to 7 days a week. Direct training simply means to intentionally perform abs exercises. Indirect training means focusing on tightening/flexing your midsection, or core, during exercises for other body parts. A good example is tightening your core while doing dead lifts and squats. Not only does this stimulate your abs but it also helps protect you from injury AND I guarantee it will make you stronger on any lift you perform.
  •  Use the suggested routine in the video above a few days a week and on other days focus on ab exercises that allow you to add resistance/weight to the movement. A couple of my favorites are rope crunches performed at a cable station and hanging leg raises with ankle weights or a dumbbell held between your feet. You could also do planks, and have a partner put a weight plate on your back (once your abs are strong enough).

The real “secret” is that there are NO secrets to building great abs.  Just like any other body part, achieving REAL results comes down to intelligent training, hard work, outstanding nutrition and consistency.

If you’ll address these 4 areas, and go at them with everything you’ve got, in time you’ll have the kind of abs that people who look for the “secret” wish for but hardly ever achieve.

Until Next Time,

Michael Wheeler

Hey guys, if you have any “secrets” to getting great abs, I’d love to hear all about them.  C’mon now… don’t keep ALL of the sexy to yourself.  How did you get YOUR amazing abs?