Prior to starting your workouts and diet, stage yourself strongly for your success. There are lot of resources on diet, exercise, workout routines etc. to build a great body but very few emphasize on the most important part which is change in “lifestyle” or habits. Everybody wants and is capable of carving a perfect 6-pack body, it’s just that our habits (remember habits die hard) curtail it. I would like to touch base on how a few changes in lifestyle would set your stage and help approach your goal (ignore the ones that do not apply to you) quickly.
- Many people try to transform but only few succeed. Most of the people are motivated initially and then digress due to several reasons (not seeing any improvement, issues at work, family, social life etc.)
- Try to find a workout group or try to find like-minded people (either in the friends circle or gym or online) who have the same goals so that you can share your learnings and experiences. We (group of friends) are working on an App (aiming at fitness competition) which would help keep you motivated and make sure you do your workouts religiously. I will get back to you once the pilot testing is done and ready to takeoff.
- Try different workout programs (for e.g. P90X, Insanity, Rushfit, HIIT etc.) and then pick what you and your body like the most. Also mix some outdoor activities (hiking, cycling, swimming, games etc.) into your workouts now and then to keep you motivated. Also take long term membership in a gym so you would be committed.
- Pick a person who is showing good progress (if you are in a group). Tell yourself if he/she can do it you can do it too. Look up online for models with ripped body to get motivated
- Take pictures (before and after) every month to keep you motivated continuously looking at the progress
- The intention is not to give up on social life but work around a way on how you would restrict yourself from the “yummy” food and “drinks”. e.g. if you have a party to go, plan what would you eat there (may be only protein and veggies) and eat the necessary carbs (healthy) at home prior to the party. Also plan for an extra cardio for that day
- if you think this would hinder reaching your goal I would suggest to let it go until you achieve your goal. It’s just matter of few months and true friends will understand you anyway
- If you go to a restaurant with friends, try to prevent un-healthier options (fast food, pizza, most buffets etc.) and order fresh natural food. I am sure most restaurants would provide an option of veggies and protein (of your choice). You always have an option for ordering a salad with some lean protein
Be open and learn to say “No”
- Let all the people around you (family, friends, relatives, and co-workers etc.) know about your goals if possible. That way you don’t have to feel embarrassed to say “no” and people wouldn’t force you and might rather be impressed of your determination
- You will definitely come across some food pushers, drinking buddies etc. Come up with nice ways to say “no” to them and motivate them to join your routines/goals
- Learn to say “No” to yourself too. At times you might get tempted to delicious food, party times and lazy days.
- Eat only healthy food to get the right amount of good protein/carbs/fat etc. Have 5-6 meals everyday with the appropriate nutrients in each meal. No carbs late night (after 7pm or 8pm depending on the body type) and consume most of the carbs (healthy only) in the day time
- Try to quit alcohol (especially beer) and rarely have wine. If you have no option but to have some then plan for extra cardio around that time.
- Reduce the intake of salt (sodium), sugars and increase the water consumption. See my diet section for more details
Pre-planned meal arrangements
- You should make no mistake in taking healthy diet no matter how hectic your schedule gets. Always plan and prepare your lunches and snacks in advance. A healthy meal should be readily available (especially post-workout and dinner meals which are very crucial).
- Purchase protein (fish, chicken, meat etc.) once in a week. Cut and marinate the meat and pack in zip-locker bags. Place couple of them (you consume next 2 days) in the fridge and others in the freezer and transfer (from chiller to the fridge) as necessary.
- Make sure stack some food/snack at work. If you have a meeting in the middle of your diet schedule, make sure you pick up some dry food/snack (like a fruit, bread, bar etc.).
- You can always find a tasty healthy option these days, you just have to explore finding the right ones for you.
Stress, sleep and anxiety
- Chronic stress issues can increase your abdominal fat levels and shrink your muscles. Cortisol (also called as “fat storing hormone”) is an adrenal hormone produced in the body due to stress and lack of sleep etc. The serious downside is that cortisol breaks down muscle tissue and converts it into glucose. You could reduce stress levels by few breathing exercises, yoga and meditation. I will provide more info on this later
- Good sleep (at least 7hrs every night) is very important because this is the time the muscle recovery happens. Even if you work out heavily and doesn’t sleep adequately you wouldn’t see the expected progress
- It is common to get anxious during your quest for the abs. You have to be patient because it takes time to burn the fat that is covering your packs. It may not be that easy, but it’s well worth the time and energy. The fat gain in your midsection will be the last place to go
- If you have a solid trainer and robust workout/diet schedule you are ready to take off but if you don’t then you got to do a lot of research. I have tried to put together a generic schedule/plan but you got to tweak according to your body reactions
- As you will soon find out 6-pack is all about diet (healthy diet) you have to invest significant amount of time to figure out what kind of diet schedule works well for your body type, because research has repeatedly shown that people have dramatically different responses to the exact same amount of overeating.
- There are many workout/exercise paths to reach your goal but you have got to pick the right one that fits you based on the feedback and response of your body
- You already have the goal otherwise you wouldn’t have read till here. You got to make this goal as top priority and work everything else around it (there could 1 or 2 exceptions but not many). Try not to compromise anywhere, if you have to then clarify and clear it off immediately
- Plan your schedule, workouts etc for both long-term (6-8 months) and short-term (next few weeks). Look at my other links on how to plan the long-term schedules (depending on the nature of your body if it is either lean or heavy built)
- Regular exercise is critical to achieve your six-pack goal. It is very important to workout 45 to 60min sessions 5 to 6 days a week to chisel your aspired 6 pack. As I mentioned earlier the App we are working on would definitely help stick to your rigorous workout routine.
Beating out physical limitations
- Attaining a 6-pack body involves lot of ab exercises which would definitely put some strain on your back. So plan and choose your exercises that won’t stress your back as much. There are different ab exercises which put pressure on different parts of the back due to the nature of the exercises themselves. There are specific ab workouts that would not strain your back
- If you already have back pain or physical limitations, you have to fix them prior to working on the abs or hire a trainer and/or consult a physician. You could work on the diet and weights until you fix your back
- You would also weaken your back if you don’t take in proper carbohydrate (healthy) rich diet
Travel (>2 days)
- Make sure the hotel you book or place you stay has easy access to a gym facility and you wouldn’t have an excuse to miss out on your workouts
- If possible a handy kitchen with minimum cookware in case if you have hard time planning your meals ahead.
- Carry nutrition replacements (like protein bars, dry nuts, peanut butter, protein powders) just in case if you don’t have easy access to fresh natural food
- Always keep some ab exercises in your pocket which can be done without the need of any gym equipment
- Travel which involves more than a week would disturb your diet/workout rhythm so I would suggest to push the long period travels if possible.
- Last but never the least. During this entire process the most affected ones would be the family. If you achieve your goal and ruin family relation there is no point of the goal.
- Sit and discuss with the family about your goals and get their opinions/concerns. Give heads up and set up expectations
- So plan all the workouts around family obligations (e.g. drop off your kid at soccer game and go to a gym during that time)
- Involve them as much as possible, discuss your learnings and progress and get feedback
- How much ever you plan you will unintentionally affect them so I would suggest checking and making sure now and then.
Once you stage yourself move on to the links below to look into my diet and workouts plans.