This week we will address two questions that fill our email boxes every week. For example:
I am wondering how long it will take to develop definition in my muscle tone...can you help me. I would like to shape and firm my arms.... flatten my stomach, (can I get the six pack?) shape my buttocks, the works. In other words I would like to look trim like you.
We have decided to reveal the secrets of great abdominals this week and save our sexy butt secrets for a future article. The great news is the answer to our babyboomers' question, "Is it too late?" It's not too late. In fact, it is possible to achieve legendary transformations even in your 40s, 50s and beyond. And guess what! It's easy if you know a few secrets!
You can't spot reduce. So in order to remove the fat on the abdominal muscles, you will have to tone all over. Indeed, you already have muscles under that fat. In fact, you may have an awesome set of abs, but if a layer of fat wraps around your waist, what's the point? No one will ever know it!
Above all, getting "toned" abs is impossible without paying attention to nutrition. Stick to nutrient dense foods! That alone will drop pounds for 99% of the population. But to get really toned you must realize you are not talking about nutrition that makes you look OK, but will-testing nutrition, the kind that tests your strength and desire. To get really get toned you must remove the last, stubborn pockets of fat to allow your legendary abdominals to shine.
We always have our clients keep a food log; that is, we have them write down on paper everything they eat for a week (without changing their normal diet). Then we begin eliminate the "empty calorie" foods in their diets, you know, the foods with all that sugar and salt in them. Yes, in case you didn't realize it, refined sugar is NOT one of the main food groups!
We also make sure that they feed their bodies a steady stream of protein rich foods so that they ingest at least 1-2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight to ensure that they can retain or even increase the lean muscle tissue that creates the great shape we're all after.
Aerobics won't do it. Not even aerobics with dieting will allow you to achieve legendary tone and shape! Aerobics and dieting will get rid of the fat and the muscles you have will show, but haven't you seen someone who only did aerobics? Shapeless. I'm talking flat. The problem is that aerobics combined with dieting causes muscle loss as well as fat loss. So although the muscles may begin to show, they do not have those great curves every woman wants, or those athletic, strong muscles every guy is seeking. Acquiring that sought after shape and strength, even deeper abdominal separation, requires resistance training. Look at all the Hollywood actresses that have hired personal trainers to push them through rigorous weight training sessions to acquire the butt and abs that produce that knockout physique.
On the other hand, those of us who are a little past our prime with a few pounds to lose may need some aerobics just to help burn a few more calories off, particularly the women. Women's bodies are just much more efficient than a man's. By that I mean, men continue burning calories for hours after a hard session with the weights while a woman's metabolism shuts down very quickly, so she will burn fewer calories over a day's time than a man will doing the very same workout.
Sit-ups stink! After years of doing set after set of sit-ups, an exercise Richard always hated, Richard finally learned that the sit-ups, contrary to popular belief, is not a great exercise for developing great abs. Indeed, sit-ups mainly involve the hip flexors, not the rectus abdominus. After discovering this secret, Richard began winning Best Abs trophies!
Having divulged four important secrets of getting great abs, we will now offer the best exercises to build that six pack everybody's asking us about.
1. Crunches. Crunches, performed correctly, are in our estimation the single best exercise you can do to build separation in the rectus abdominus that is commonly referred to as the "six pack" because of the appearance of six distinct slabs of muscle when the possessor contracts the muscles of the stomach.
2. Leg raises done with a body curl. Why the body curls? According to Charles Poloquin, "The anatomy of the rectus abdominus is such that your torso needs to bend backwards approximately 15 degrees to develop maximum tension in the abdominal muscles." Adding the body curl at the end of the leg raise helps train the muscles of the back to be protective during exercises such as military presses or cheat curls.
3. Rope crunches. Another great exercise for creating maximum time under tension, while allowing for a full range of motion without the restrictions of the floor or bench as with many ab movements. Remember, just like in leg raises, rope crunches should not be just an up and down movement, but rather a curling exercise. Curl your head into your body for the maximum contraction. Watch that butt! Don't sit back, curl!
4. Swiss ball ab work. Some of you hardcore babyboomers are thinking, "Swiss balls?No way!" Even a certain Mr. USA had to be convinced. But, swiss balls provide unrestricted movement, at the same time recruiting core muscles necessary to provide balance during the movement. Two favorite swiss ball exercises include crunches and leg raises. For crunches place you toes up against the wall, position you butt on the ball and crunch. Remember; don't just move those hip flexors. For leg raises, place a Smith machine bar slightly above waist height, hold on and position your butt on the ball while in a reclined position. Now, perform your leg raises. This is a very humbling exercise, so just start with one or two sets when performing this exercise for the first time.
There is no need to perform abdominal exercises each day. Abs are a muscle group, like all others. They need time to recover in order to grow. So get into the gym, work those ab muscles two or three times per week and then let them grow! Legendary Fitness, LLC, recommends two sets of each exercise with 12-15 reps. In the December 2002 issue of Muscle and Fitness, Cory Everson discusses the importance of the mind/muscle connection with core strength exercises. This is advice worth taking on all exercises, but Cory is right?it's critical for core strength moves.
We are looking forward to hearing from you on your progress. To stay motivated and informed on the latest work published by Richard and Diane, send an email stating, "I want to be on the mailing list." And for those with progress pictures and/or transformation pictures, click here. Be sure to tell us where you live.
Lastly, we leave you with this thought. It's Thanksgiving week, the start of the traditional American weight gain of seven to fifteen pounds. How will you handle the holiday season? You have two choices. You can be the typical American or you can be an extraordinary person that not only breaks this weight gain tradition, but also uses this time of year to get into better shape. Thanksgiving is one meal?. enjoy it! In fact, there are lots of healthy foods on this day. Enjoy your turkey, salad and vegetables, and go easy on the wine, gravy and pies. Go for a run in the morning or better yet, most gyms are open in the morning?go and enjoy the atmosphere as only your fellow hardcore gym rats will flood the gym on Thanksgiving morning. Turkey, green beans, carrots, salad and pears are on our holiday menu, as are workouts and a walk on the beach. Join us and send us an email stating that, "I want to be extraordinary this holiday season!"