A status symbol. A sex symbol. Envied by men. Lusted by women. The Six Pack.
The six pack is the most highly sought after muscle group in our society. It defines an individual’s physique better than any other muscle group in our body. Just a glimpse of a well developed six pack is enough to label a person as ripped, shredded or fit.
The entertainment industry has exploited our obsession with the six pack to sell us movies, music and other products. Think back to the 2004 film Troy. All I remember is Brad Pitt’s six pack – and the countless women who have told me about it since then! Or take Usher Raymond, the MJ-like artist behind the hit single Yeah! But you may remember him more for his six pack which he credits for driving women crazy!
In my view, men either dream about having a six pack or work their butts off to get it. A six pack is like a sex symbol – it attracts women and makes other men envious. But to say that all men strive to achieve a six pack for the sole purpose of attracting the opposite sex would be ballsy of me to say – if not for the countless people I know who are not worried about taking their shirts off on Facebook. (However, let’s just say that my wife would have second thoughts about my fitness goals for the future!) And this isn’t to say that women aren’t concerned about getting a sexy six pack themselves. They do get them – I have seen them and it has the same affect.
For me, a defined, ripped, chiseled, rock-hard six pack is a status symbol that says I care about my body. And I for one am not afraid to show it. So what’s the secret? Well, there are three secrets: hard work, exercise, and diet.
The first secret of hard work speaks for itself. The motivation to begin such a drastic lifestyle change is difficult to maintain. That’s why I say that while many men dream of having a six pack, many of you will do nothing with the information I provide. However, a few of you will take this as a guide, build upon it, adapt it to your lifestyle, and make the changes that you want to see.
Most importantly, it is about maintaining the lifestyle. When I started my transformation, I heard the saying “it takes 21 days to form a new habit.” Nothing can be closer to the truth. So hard work is about building the mentality that you want to change, taking the resources available to you, and applying it to your daily life with consistency. Without consistency, you will fail and make excuses and give up.
The second secret is exercise. It should be common sense now that targeted fat loss is not possible. This means that you cannot actively try to lose fat on only your stomach. I liken it to the “gestalt principle” – the whole body should be considered rather than just its individual parts. You need to lose fat everywhere. The only way to do so is to increase your metabolic activity by doing more cardio and strength training. It has been shown that your body continues to burn fat for several hours after resistance training. Yet many do not consider resistance training necessary for losing fat and instead only do cardio.
There are many women who are afraid of picking up a dumbbell because they think they are going to build muscle and look like a freak. Nothing could be further from the truth! If building muscle was that easy, I would be Mr. Olympia by now! Incorporating resistance training as well as 30-60 minutes of steady-paced cardio afterwards will be a surefire way to burn fat all over your body. This coupled with abdominal exercises like planks, knee raises and V-sit ups will build your core and reveal those abs.
The final secret is diet. From my experience, exercise makes up 20% of your work. The other 80% is diet. Again, consistency is key. That means sticking to a strict diet with no cheat meals and no exceptions. Your goal is to bring your body fat down to such a low level that you can see veins appear on your stomach. OK, maybe not that low.
Here is a picture of Amer at a body fat percentage below 4%. For most people, a body fat percentage anywhere between 6-10% will give you the abs you want. Anywhere below 3% and you’re dead as this is what’s necessary for your vital organs to function properly.
In order to attain a low body fat percentage, you should eat at a caloric deficit. That means you should find out how many calories you are burning each day and eat 500-1000 fewer calories than that. At first, you want to taper your calories gradually. Eventually you will be eating a large caloric deficit and further increase your metabolic activity to really bring your body fat percentage low.
Avoid all forms of fast absorbing simple sugars you get from white rice, pasta, bread and juice (just to name a few). Instead, eat complex carbohydrates with a good protein source and some healthy fats from almonds and peanut butter. When the hunger cravings kick in, there’s only one thing to do. This is probably every bodybuilder’s secret weapon when dieting and it should be yours too. Juicing! Juice as much green vegetables like Kale, celery, spinach and asparagus as you can. It will fill your stomach, cease your hunger and turn your poop green.
Thus, altogether you must merge hard work and the ability to maintain a new lifestyle with a dedicated exercise plan and a diet plan that is consistent each day. I find it easy if I ask myself a few questions: How bad do I want this? What can I gain from getting this? Who am I doing this for?
If you can answer these questions honestly, it’ll be the difference between a short fling and a total lifestyle change. It’s all up to you.