How To Get Six Pack Abs
How to get six pack abs fast.
That’s all we really want to know.
We don’t need the overly scientific BS, confusing formulas, restrictive diets, endless cardio, steroids, or other performance enhancing drugs…
All we really need is the truth about what works for genetically average, drug-free dudes like us.
With all of the different theories and opinions out there coming from multiple sources, one can only expect to get confusing and conflicting information when it comes to six pack abs…
It seems like everywhere you look these days, you find website after website promising to reveal the next secret or long lost truth to getting six pack abs.
While some of these sites are legit, most are just trying to scam you out of your hard earned money.
When trying to develop six pack abs though, it is so easy to get caught up in flashy advertisements and hyped up marketing promises. I know this from experience.
The flashy videos, professionally written sales copy, and celebrity testimonials practically make it impossible to figure out what works and what is a scam.
With literally thousands of so called gurus promising you the world, revelaing the “truth” about how to get six pack abs, translating the nonsense into a language you can easily understand is a daunting task.
Just putting the words six pack abs into Google brings up over one million results! Most people don’t have the time to sift through all of that junk to pick out a winner.
With that being said – I’m going to spare you the bullshit today and get straight to the point. You’re here because you want to get ripped.
You’re here because you’re sick of busting your ass in the gym 3-4 times a week with nothing to show for it.
Sick of Googling lame “ab workouts” you find on obscure training blogs online…
Sick of watching cheesy ab workout tutorials from “overnight experts” on YouTube…
Sick of getting rejected by hot chicks and having to watch them date some ripped poser instead…
You want to command respect with a look that gives you the confidence to rip off your shirt at the pool or during a pick-up game of hoops…
A look that will turn heads. A look that will get you noticed. A look that will make all of the ladies toss their hair as they double take and say “WOW LOOK AT THAT GUY…”
Below you’ll find a comprehensive tutorial on exactly how to get six pack abs. It’s a fully comprehensive guide which outlines quite a few helpful tips that can be applied immediately to your training, nutrition, and mentality to help you start getting results.
How To Get Six Pack Abs
By Jamin Thompson – Last update August 12, 2013
The Definitive Guide To Better Abs
Six pack abs are arguably of the ‘sexiest’ human body parts, but unfortunately, they are also one of the hardest to develop. That being said, if you’re reading this article today it probably means you’ve been struggling to get your abs to come in.
Using the best practices outlined in this article will help you get ripped faster, maintain size, and hopefully get you laid a lot more than you’re getting now. (That is the main reason you’ve been trying to get ripped so bad, right?).
This guide will provide a holistic view on six pack abs development, and I will cover most of the basic principles you need to know as well as several more advanced concepts as well. Of course I can’t cover every single technical aspect of abdominal development in this tutorial alone, but this post will cover all of the basics and give you a solid foundation to get started. Check out the table of contents below to jump around to the parts that interest you most.
Updates To This Six Pack Abs Article
This article will be kept up to date with the latest research & best practices when it comes to nutrition, training, and six pack abs development. As new research trumps the ‘old way’ of doing things and the science evolves, I’ll update this article accordingly.
The goal of this article is to combine all of the most relevant info I’ve written & compiled about six pack abs, here and on other sites, for your easy reading pleasure. Be sure to subscribe to my Hardbody Newsletter to receive an email notification when I update this article.
Table of Contents
The Mental, Emotional, & Physical Components
There is a prevailing assumption out there (promoted by many trainers and sites) that “abs are made in the kitchen” and that “abs are 80% diet and 20% training” – I could not disagree more. While I do agree that diet & nutrition play a HUGE role in six pack abs development, the most important “percentage” that is often left out is the belief in yourself that you can do it. Without that underlying belief, you’re doomed from the start.
The first thing you need to focus on is the mental aspect of your training. Are you mental and emotionally ready to go after your goal(s)? It won’t be easy and you will be faced with numerous challenges, roadblocks, and temptations along the way that can prevent you from ever being successful. Your ability to remain mentally tough, focused, and continue the journey with discipline & perseverance can not be understated.
With that being said, here is my new and improved breakdown:
These are only rough percentages, but I truly believe that 70% of physical development comes down to mental toughness and emotional intelligence. These two aspects are the foundation that will hold everything together.
Without mental toughness, you’ll never be able to drag yourself to the gym when all you want to do is chill on the couch and eat Doritos. Without mental toughness you’ll never be able to stick to your diet/nutrition plan and most likely never reach your goals. Without emotional intelligence you’ll probably cave in when the going gets tough, or when your friends and family try to discourage you. Mental toughness and emotional intelligence work hand in hand to help you develop the athlete mentality, which is the level of mental ninja you need to reach if you’re going to ever achieve true greatness.
The Success Formula
These days it seems all everyone wants are compliments, puppies, hugs, smiles, and quick fixes.
Nobody wants to get down n’ dirty and work hard to get what they want anymore.
People now want instant gratification and overnight results.
They want to enjoy the sweetness of the fruit without suffering through the pain of any labor.
It’s become an epidemic of grand proportions.
It’s out of control, and it must stop NOW.
When I was an athlete at Clemson University, our coach used to pound the ill effects of instant gratification into our heads on a daily basis.
He would say “gentlemen, if you seek instant gratification, you’ll never become champions. You must have a passion to do, and a patience to wait. Trust in the work you’re putting in – it will pay off in the long run”.
The sad fact is that 99% of the population will probably never become champions…only a select few. The 1%. It’s not because the 99% doesn’t WANT to become champions…they just may not want it BAD ENOUGH to do what it takes to achieve it. I’m not trying to get political here; I’m just making a point. Numbers don’t lie.
You don’t really have to do any complex statistical modeling to figure out that there are more failures than successes in society these days. You literally see it everywhere. People failing in the gym, failing at work, failing in their relationships, and failing at life.
You don’t have to look far to find them…just check your Facebook mini-feed or Twitter timeline right now and I’ll bet you’ll see tons of people complaining about their “situations” or how “person X did them wrong” or how “it’s everyone’s fault but theirs”…
I hate preaching, I really do…but whatever happened to planting a seed and then working hard to see the fruits of your labor? Since when did getting cut n’ jacked become easy? Since when did making millions of dollars become easy? Since when did making relationships work become easy? Since when did LIFE become easy??
Most of the things you see people bitching about now days all require patience and hard work. Getting shredded is HARD. Making millions of dollars is HARD. Making relationships work is HARD. Life isn’t fair, it’s HARD. Nothing worth achieving is ever easy…it’s always HARD.
There is an intellectual attribute called deferred gratification (also known as impulse control, self-control, will power, or low time preference in economics). This attribute is considered a positive trait in sociology and it denotes a person’s ability to wait in order to attain something that he or she wants.
Many psychologists agree that this attribute is an important component in a person’s emotional intelligence level. In fact, good impulse control has been noted by several studies as being psychologically important for success in life/school/work; and people who lack the trait (people who need instant gratification) usually fail to reach goals and aren’t as successful in their lives as those who exhibit such traits.
The Stanford Marshmallow Experiment shows compelling evidence that backs this up.
There is a saying: “all that glitters is not gold”. To a certain extent this is true. Flashy supplements, fad diets, designer tv workouts, and dangerous drugs are prime examples of glittering fake gold. Instant gratification is a deadly virus that will kill your goals, dreams, and aspirations faster than you could ever imagine. Avoid it at all costs.
When it comes to getting results in the gym or in life, the formula remains quite simple.
In fact, here is a formula to follow that will put you on the path to success instantly…
Got all that?
Relax, I’m totally joking. The formula for success isn’t complex or difficult…it’s actually quite simple. It’s so simple n’ easy, an average idiot like me can even figure it out!
Here is my simple success formula that’s been proven to work inside as well as outside the gym: Belief + Strategy + Effort = Success
Got all that? Good!
Of course there are other variables that go into this equation such as patience, perseverance, determination, focus, etc but the basic 3 fundamental components will always remain the same.
Believe In Yourself
Belief is the psychological state in which an individual holds a premise or proposition to be true. Before you can achieve anything, you’ve got to believe that what is inside you is greater than any obstacle in your way.
If you’ve read this site for a while you’ll know that I HATE cliché, super cheesy quotes so I’m not going to sit here and tell you that “if you believe it, you can achieve it” or “what the mind can conceive and believe the mind can achieve” because these types of sayings just aren’t practical. You will never be able to shoot fire out of your eyes, fly, toss city busses with one hand, or do anything else ridiculous like that…
What I’m saying is that you should just have 100% confidence in yourself that you can achieve any ATTAINABLE goal that you set for yourself.
Sure, there will be people who will say you can’t do it and others who may hate, put you down, and try to discourage you…but a strong belief in yourself will force others to eventually believe in you as well. Start a movement.
Have A Strategy
Complex strategies and formulas usually just create frustration and confusion (see the formula above if you’re not sure what I mean). However, even the most simple strategy will screw you up if you don’t follow it correctly. For example, you don’t ‘ready, fire, aim’ you ‘ready, aim, fire’.
It’s quite simple, your strategy must give you a basic outline that will help you get to your desired outcome. There are usually several components that go into your fitness and health strategy: a nutrition plan, a workout plan, and a supplementation plan. Each one should work hand in hand to help you reach your desired goal.
Put Forth Effort
This part is completely up to you. You get out what you put in. If you work hard, you’ll see better results. If you slack off, your results will probably suck. If you don’t already know this, you’re probably reading this post from your high chair or playpen. Perhaps even a nursery.
I posted the picture below on Facebook a while back and it received a tremendous response. Over 1000 likes in less than an hour. It’s proof that whatever your situation, whatever your excuse, there is always someone else that has it much worse than you who is kicking serious ass and not making excuses.
Click to view full image
This picture tells us that:
1) These guys may not have much but that doesn’t stop them from working hard and pursuing their goals.
2) If you really want it you’ll find a way. Do what you can with what you have. You can always make good out of a bad situation.
3) Anyone can gather whatever resources they have and pursue fitness and health.
4) You don’t need to use expensive supplements, eat six meals per day, workout at the finest gym, jump on fad workouts, or follow expensive nutrition programs to become a monster in the gym – but that a couple of plates, a barbell, and a strong will can take you a long way.
5) The next time you complain about anything at your plush air conditioned gym you should feel like a true asshole.
Remember, always keep it simple. Belief + Strategy + Effort = Success.
Train With Passion & Intensity
Unless you truly love going to the gym and giving it your all you’re never going to truly reach your full physical potential. If you’re going to “try hard” sometimes and “slack off” other times you’re pretty much wasting your time – just stay home and use a silly workout DVDs instead (it’s a lot easier and less pressure that way).
Now I’m not saying you have to turn into one of those gym freaks who practically kills himself every time he trains, all I’m saying is for the duration of your workout, have laser like focus, train with intensity, and try to love every minute of it. Of course there will be bad days where you don’t feel like training at all (we all have them), or you may feel sick, tired, sore, whatever – but if you always give 100% effort that’s all you can ask of yourself. Do that, and the rest will take care of itself.
Don’t Over Analyze Everything
One of the worst things you can do to sabotage any chance you have at making progress is to be a serial program hopper. If you’re constantly stressing and over analyzing every last minor detail of what you’re doing, reading too much conflicting info on the internet, and always looking for the next best thing, you’ll start doubting and second guessing your current program without even giving it a chance to work.
People that do this usually stay flabby and weak and make no progress whatsoever. For example, in the 3 hours that it took you to Google and read articles about what’s the best angle to do incline bench presses, for example, you could have prepared a few healthy meals in advance plus got a good workout in.
Trust me, if you don’t believe in your program and your heart isn’t 100% in it, your time in the gym will become a complete waste. Trust the work you’re putting in, and focus on your current game plan. Execute that game plan, make small tweaks when necessary, and go from there. Eliminate all unnecessary distractions and energy draining “analytical research”.
Get Your Mind Right
There’s not much worse than living a life of worry; a life of mediocrity; a life of weakness. A life of regret.
Unfortunately, many people live life on their knees – spending the majority of their time being mentally bullied by stress, worry, fear, hate, and regret. It’s an epidemic, especially in modern culture.
It’s like people have everything they ever wanted, but don’t have anything they ever wanted.
Here’s a typical scenario:
It usually all starts in the morning when they wake up. They get up cranky and complain about how long the drive is to work or how long the Starbucks line was while they waited an agonizing 12 minutes for a tall latté with crushed ice and light foam.
Then they get to work and complain about how much their kids suck, how much their spouse sucks, how much the job sucks, how much their freshly purchased latté sucks, and how much life sucks…
Then they drive home from work and complain about the commute AGAIN, then get home and complain to the spouse who sucks about how much the people at work suck.
Then they may drive to the gym and complain about how much their workout sucks, how bad the members at their gym suck, how bad the equipment sucks, or how bad their belly fat sucks.
Then they drive home and complain about how being tired and sore sucks, how not getting enough sleep sucks, how being hungry at night and not being able to eat junk food at night because they want to lose the belly flab sucks….while they sit on the couch and watch 2 or 3 hours of late night TV.
They may want to get a better job, have better relationships, make more money, have a better body, or become a better athlete, but for some reason things just don’t seem to go their way.
Life friggin sucks.
The only thing that keeps them from literally blowing their heads off each day is the small glimmer of hope they derive from the opening line of all of their favorite quotes: “IF ONLY”…
If only I didn’t have kids.
If only I knew how to do it.
If only I were younger.
If only I could eat healthier.
If only I could stick with it.
If only I were smarter.
If only I had somebody to help me.
If only the economy was better.
If only I had more time.
If only I could afford it.
You get the idea. It’s always “If only SOMETHING….”
Today was another day in the books. It came and went, and multiple opportunities that you need to take advantage of, opportunities that you have been meaning to take advantage of, opportunities that could help you improve your situation were probably wasted yet again.
Maybe you just don’t care. Maybe you’re cool with being mediocre. Perhaps you thrive in the middle of the road.
Perhaps you enjoy being a whiny little bitch who complains about everything. Maybe you think it’s fun and exciting – even cool.
Maybe you like to watch successful people do what they do and secretly hope they fail.
Maybe you like showing off your belly fat at the pool. Perhaps you enjoy being stuck with an awful spouse, bad kids, and annoying coworkers.
Maybe it’s your goal to be so pitiful your friends, family, and finally your spouse all abandon you.
Maybe your ‘American Dream’ is having a bad body, terrible job situation, awful relationship, and a hard life filled with regret.
Here’s how I see it. The reason most people are depressed, unhappy, lonely, miserable, and unsuccessful isn’t because they are less talented or skilled, they are just weak minded. They lack balls. And they care too much about the wrong things.
They focus the majority of their time and energy complaining about bullshit and hating on others instead of using it for personal achievement and advancement.
This is one of the main reasons I believe we have “The 99%”…you know…those “less successful” people who can’t stand “The 1%”.
Without getting into politics, this success disparity phenomenon transcends well beyond finance and economic wealth distribution. We see it literally everywhere. In sports, in school, at work, in relationships, the list goes on and on.
The funny thing about the whole situation is that the majority of the 99% (or let’s even make it 95% for the sake of this discussion) just don’t have what it takes to commit to success…and then consistently maintain the discipline, strength, focus, and resolve it takes to see it through to the end until they reach a goal.
I like to call this highbrow natural selection. Only the strong minded survive. The weak minded will get eaten as prey and their fur used as winter coats to keep the strong alive & well.
The success pie is HUGE, but the path of mediocrity won’t take you to the pie shop of success. You may be able to look inside the shop, but you won’t be able to afford anything inside…and trust me…that’s some good pie.
Now you may feel as if you’re close to the next level but you just can’t break through. Is it your genetic ability holding you back? Is it a mental hurdle? Is it social conditioning? Are you just not working hard enough?
The honest answer is that it’s probably none of the above. It’s all attitude.
Sure, there will always be areas or your life where being average is, well, actually cool. I have zero desire to be a top Paleontologist or Graphologist in the world because those areas don’t interest me. There are also other areas of my life where I am perfectly fine being less than stellar. Yard work and house chores are prime examples. I’ll probably never be selected to anyone’s dishwashing fantasy team because I suck at doing dishes. I am perfectly fine with that.
On a more serious note, there are probably areas of your life where you’ve simply plateaued. You’ve hit the wall. And it sucks. You’re still good, and you’re getting by, but you’re restless, annoyed, and borderline frustrated.
There is always an easy out. You can always choose the easy path, the path of the least resistance, the path of mediocrity. Or you can forge your own path. Nothing worth doing or achieving in life will be easy. Nothing.
So now let me ask you: Do you have what it takes to stop worrying, panicking, questioning, calculating, re-calculating, analyzing and pondering…and start doing? Do you have what it takes to commit 100% to yourself and your goal of getting six pack abs?
Are you willing to take a few risks and make sacrifices to finally get what you want out of life and reach that goal? Do you realize that if you continue living in fear, unable to pull the trigger, that you will continue to live on your knees?
Are you going to continue down the path of mediocrity, failure, and misery and let life pass you by – or are you going to get up off your knees, take the life’s balls out of your mouth, and start kicking ass?
Set Goals & Stick With Them
At the beginning of the year, most of us will sit back and assess ourselves and our achievements, or lack thereof.
Listen, last year, last month, last week, etc is history.
It came and went.
Maybe you achieved your goals.
Maybe you didn’t.
Maybe the economy kicked your ass.
Maybe your boss or wife had you by the balls.
Maybe you even lost your job or got divorced.
Maybe you suffered chronic illness or endured severe hardship.
Maybe you completely lost focus and gained some unwanted belly fat.
Maybe this year/month/week you want things to be better.
A better job, a better relationship with your partner, to lose weight, to get healthier, to get ripped, to be a better parent, to go back to school, to start your own business, to make more money…
Or perhaps you are simply searching for truth, love, and contentment in life…
Whatever your goals are, now is the perfect time to go after them…and quite frankly, it doesn’t matter if you didn’t achieve a single goal you set for yourself in the past.
Leave it in the past.
Life is too short to spend it full of regret and looking back at the past feeling sorry for yourself over dashed dreams and “what could have been”…
Right now is here. It’s a brand new day. It’s a chance to take control of your life, to do things your way, to achieve new goals and live on your own terms.
Why let life slap you around for another day without deciding to do anything about it…the time is now.
So where do you start?
Many people disagree with this, but I believe that in order to achieve success in any new chapter (aka a new year) we must think beyond simple resolutions. We must think long term. And build our futures from there.
What did you accomplish last year?
Are you a better person today than you were on this date last year?
What are your goals for the future?
What are the overall goals for your training program? Your career? Your life?
How will the resolutions you set this year help you accomplish those goals?
Do you even know the answers to these questions?
If you don’t like the answers you came up with, perhaps it is time to re-assess your direction in life and get more serious about your future.
The late Jim Rohn once said, “I find it fascinating that most people plan their vacations with better care than they plan their lives. Perhaps it’s because escape is easier than change.”
Don’t set weak, emotionless “resolutions” this time around…
Don’t set fragile, generic goals this year that you only partially commit to…
This isn’t a Pac-Man video game where you get three lives, you’ve only got one life to live; so setting goals for that ONE LIFE should be taken very seriously.
That’s right. ONE life.
If tomorrow wasn’t promised to you, if you only had a few months, or weeks to live…what would you do today? Forget what happened last year. Forget any past mistakes or hardships. What would you think about, right now? What would you pour your heart into? What would you sacrifice everything for?
We only get one chance to live our lives, one opportunity to leave a legacy. One chance to make our mark on the world. And then we die. Then it’s gone.
We must always be on a relentless pursuit of constant self-improvement…on a focused, and dedicated commitment to greatness. Every second. Every hour. Every day. Every year.
And if you screwed around last year, last month, last week, etc, it’s not too late to change.
Ever since I was a little kid, my mom pounded this simple message into my head “Always work on trying to improve yourself, always work on getting better. Then work on being better than that. Try to be better than you were yesterday, and work harder at it today than you did yesterday. Always try to be better.”
So every day, every year I work on being a better person. Becoming a better man than I was the day or year before.
Your “better” could be anything…a better parent, a better brother, sister, friend, employee, better abs, whatever. Just get better at it.
Call it what you want, reinvention, evolving, personal development, progress, whatever…
I think doing the opposite would be the same as dying…
In my opinion, there isn’t anything worse than going through life and staying the same. Or even worse, going through life and regressing…
I’m a different person than I was five years ago, and I’d like to believe that I am a better person today than I was back then. I know I will also be a different person five years from now; hopefully a better, more refined version of my current self…and I wish you the same.
In biology, moulting, also known as sloughing, shedding, or for some species, ecdysis, is the manner in which an animal routinely casts off a part of its body, either at specific times of year, or at specific points in its life cycle.
My favorite example of this is the snake, and I like to think of the passing of each year and growing as a person sort of as a snake shedding its skin.
Leave the old, less sophisticated, less intelligent, less battle tested, weaker version of yourself in the past.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that you can never take a break on your quest for self-improvement. You can never remain stagnant. You can never get complacent. You should constantly be focused on trying to better yourself. To be better tomorrow than you were today. And leave the old you in the past.
With all of that being said, I don’t think that any of us need to come up with any complex philosophical “resolutions” every year. Instead, I prefer to keep it simple. Just focus on improving a little bit each day. And improvement comes through focus and effort.
I know a lot of this goal setting stuff can sound corny and played out sometimes, and I apologize if you’ve heard all of this stuff before…but if you’ve read this far I know that you “get it” and want to succeed more than the average person does. So if you’re still with me, here are a few tips to help make this go-around better than last time:
1. Avoid making “soft goals” and instead set a written purpose or personal mission statement. Write down your future goals and project yourself into the future. Where do you want to be 5, 10, 20 years from now? How will this year help you get there? Everything you write down must fall under the umbrella of your personal mission statement. Set goals that will back up your ‘purpose’ in life and then let your mission statement be the guiding force as you write out your master plan and goals.
If you have never created a personal mission statement, here is a great example. It is Merlin Olsen’s (NFL Hall of Famer) and one of my favorites:
“The focus of my life begins at home with family, loved ones and friends. I want to use my resources to create a secure environment that fosters love, learning, laughter and mutual success. I will protect and value integrity. I will admit and quickly correct my mistakes. I will be a self-starter. I will be a caring person. I will be a good listener with an open mind. I will continue to grow and learn. I will facilitate and celebrate the success of others.”
2. Eliminate the dead weight, deadbeats, haters, and useless BS from your life. A few years ago I cut all of the dead weight out of my life and now I only associate with hard working, positive thinking winners. From relatives, to friends, girlfriends, acquaintances, business partners, and all of the lazy, negative, blame the world for their problem types…I got rid of them all.
Look, I know it can be tough to cut people you care about out of your life…but trust me…if you surround yourself with negativity, your entire outlook on life and how you see the world will change. These people will drag you down. You will accomplish less WITH them than you can WITHOUT them.
We all become like the people we surround ourselves with. So try to only surround yourself with people who you want to be like. People who are headed in the same direction you want to go. People who have accomplished what you want to accomplish. People who support your dreams, goals, and vision.
Always remember this: there is no force more powerful to drag you down than a group of negative people…and there is no force greater to lift you up than a group of hard working, positive people. Cut the dead weight loose before it drags you down too.
3. Use a support team. It’s impossible to make it to the top or achieve any type of success without a solid support team to help you along the way. From my parents, to coaches, teachers, mentors, etc, I would not be the man I am today or achieved ANY of the success I have achieved in my life without their help and guidance.
My mom has been there for me in more ways than I can even count. Aside from the fact that she spawned me into existence, she has made countless sacrifices to help me succeed. All she does is give, give, give, and asks for nothing in return. I could not be more thankful to have been blessed with such a wonderful mother.
Let’s face it. None of us can do it alone. We all need a support system. With that being said, if your goal is to build six pack abs I strongly encourage you join an online fitness community because the support you will get from the members, who are all pursuing the same goals you are, in a positive way, is priceless. If you’ve never joined an online community before, Jason Ferruggia’s Renegade Inner Circle and Tom Venuto’s Burn The Fat Inner Circle are two great places to start as you will be able to surround yourself with amazing, like-minded people. It’s a fact that people who train with support systems achieve their goals much faster than those who try to do it solo.
4. Make the investment of time and pain. Now that you’ve written down a personal mission statement and come up with a few goals, it’s time to put in the work in order to make those goals materialize.
Never forget that a major goal can only be achieved by: (1) putting in the time, and (2) fighting through the pain, adversity, and hardship. Sure you can have a great plan to get there, but preparation alone (going to seminars, buying courses, ebooks, diets, making resolutions, etc) does absolutely nothing these days as it is easy to pretend to care when things are easy. It’s so easy to fake commit until the journey gets tough.
Of course we all want a better job, a better relationship with our partner, to lose weight, to get healthier, to get ripped, to be a better parent, to go back to school, to start our own business, to make more money, etc…but how many of us will quit at the first sign of difficulty? How many of us will pull the plug when adversity strikes? How many of us will jot down a few goals this year only to “get busy” or “get tired” a few months from now and give up on those goals until New Year’s resolution time next year?
Zig Ziglar once said that, “A goal casually set and lightly taken will be freely abandoned at the first obstacle.”
Nothing that’s worth doing in life is going to come easy. We’ve all got to work for what we get. We’ve all only got one life to live, remember? Why spend it living in the comfort zone? Why spend it mired in regret? Don’t fall into the trap of committed failure, partial commitment, self-sabotage, and chronic failure.
So as you write down your mission statement and future goals, keep in mind that until there is a real investment of pain and time, your “efforts” don’t really count. There will be adversity, hardship, and pain to deal with along the way, and it will take time to reach your goals. The problem is that once people reach their pain threshold or go beyond their comfort level…they pull the plug…year after year…which leads me into my next point…
5. Have perseverance. As stated in number 4 above, building six pack abs isn’t going to be easy, and things are going to get tough. That’s inevitable. The question is: will you hang in there long enough to reach your goals? Will you fight through any adversity that comes your way regardless of how much pain or hardship it inflicts upon you? Will you stand your ground when training/dieting/life/etc comes at you with a flurry of body punches? Will you get up and keep fighting when life knocks you down?
The greatest warriors and athletes in history all had the remarkable ability to do one thing better than everyone else…they were able to persevere and sustain the durability of commitment. They refused to quit until the job was complete. They indignantly repudiated the idea of surrender.
This is a brand new opportunity, and your future is in your hands. Go forth, and conquer. Never quit. Fight the good fight.
Dale Carnegie once said, “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”
Process Over Product
Learning not to focus on end results and teaching myself to love the process was one of the greatest lessons I learned from my coaches during my time as an athlete at Clemson.
Process Over Product Translation: the only two rewards though competition are the Process (the learning and internal rewards of the experience) and the Product (the material or outer rewards from the completion).
The four scenarios are:
1. To give your whole heart and win.
2. To give your whole heart and lose.
3. To not give your whole heart and win.
4. To not give your whole heart and lose.
Here are the rewards from each of these scenarios:
When you’re training, you always want to avoid the “No Product, No Process” scenario and get both the product and the process. The athlete who always gives his or her best, even in a losing cause (or failure), is the one who always chooses to pursue the “Process, No Product” scenario instead of the “Product, No Process” scenario (I want to win, regardless of whether I do it the right way or not).
Here are the four scenarios listed in rank of best to worst:
1. Achieve the Process and the Product. (best outcome)
2. Achieve the Process and not cash in on the Product this time. (aka tough training sessions)
3. Get the Product but sacrifice the Process in getting it. (won’t work forever)
4. Get no Product and get no Process. (worst outcome)
When you train and/or compete, always strive to achieve #1 or #2 at the very least.
Learn to love the process, the battle, the pain, the grind. If it doesn’t break you it will make you…and most things will only break you if you let them. So whatever adversity you are currently facing…make the commitment to overcome it.
Feel the pain, appreciate the pain, and then eliminate the pain. Remember, life without pain has no meaning, and there is no coming to consciousness without pain. Once you overcome pain, that’s when a true re-birth can occur and this is the first step to reaching your goals.
We discussed goal setting earlier in this post – and we all know that any type of success requires a commitment. That’s a no brainer. So obviously we should all be excited about making one right?
We have been conditioned our entire lives to avoid all things involving risk, and making a commitment is usually a HUGE risk. When we put forth a 100% effort and succeed, there is no greater feeling in the world. However, when we put forth a 100% effort and fail, the effects can be devastating.
This is the reason most people only partially commit. They simply want to protect themselves, their feelings, and their egos. We see this partial commitment syndrome everywhere, in marriages, in the office, with parenthood, in the gym, etc. The list goes on and on.
Outside In vs. Inside Out Training
There are two types of commitment – (1) commitment through obsession (external) and (2) commitment through inspiration (internal).
You can be successful regardless of which method of motivation you choose, but only one type will allow for much more self-satisfaction than the other.
Allow me to explain:
Athletes who are motivated by obsession can definitely become success stories, but these athletes never truly enjoy the process. Their journey to the top is usually filled with anguish and emotional torment.
They often feel relieved after a win (i.e. they finally develop six pack abs), and their achievement is never really fulfilling. Wins typically bring a feeling of relief rather than elation. Competition instills fear and creates anxiety because the thought of losing is simply too big of a threat. Plateaus, losses, and setbacks bring discouragement, anxiety, stress, and depression. And even worse, this athlete usually fears competition in the future because of these negative emotions.
I see this happen quite often with bodybuilding and fitness competitors. Many of these competitors obsess so much about winning that when the show rolls around, after all of the dieting, training, and prep…the fear of both failure and success absolutely consume them. They simply crack under the pressure and stress of the moment.
This scenario typically happens when an athlete needs to validate who they are by what they accomplish. This isn’t always necessarily a bad thing, but athletes with this mentality need great coaches and mentors around them constantly to keep them on the right track.
This is why it is SO IMPORTANT to train for the RIGHT REASONS. It’s great to push for results, but sometimes when you train with a “results first” oriented mindset, your results aren’t nearly as satisfying in the end. This sort of success feels more like a relief than a feeling of excitement. I call this sort of training “outside-in” training.
On the flip side of that, athletes who are internally motivated see competition and winning much differently. They are very fulfilled after a win and they are able to find happiness and satisfaction in even the smallest of successes. Even tiny accomplishments brings pleasure, joy, and growth. As this athlete continues to grow and develop their fulfillment levels are compounded even more. Plateaus and failures will disappoint this athlete, but only make them more eager to compete again.
These athletes train simply for the love of the game (see the ‘Train With Passion & Intensity’ section above). These athletes train to EXPRESS and not to IMPRESS and as a result, inspire even MORE success. This is what I like to call “inside-out” training.
A 100% commitment is a ballsy move, but in order to achieve your true goals, this is a risk you must take. We all go to the gym, we all try to eat clean, and we all want to be rewarded for our efforts, but that effort will only take you so far.
In order for you to reach your true potential, you first need to be internally motivated. You’ve got to WANT it. You’ve got to have that burning desire to want to improve and get better. And nobody can create that for you. Either you have it or you don’t.
Secondly, you have to do it for the right reasons.
When I was an athlete at Clemson, Coach used to help us overcome the fear of commitment by constantly telling us “there is no heavier burden than a great opportunity”…and he would also remind us of what he liked to call The Three D’s of Every Challenge:
He would say “gentlemen, you must first have the Dream; and after that dream, you’ll usually find Disappointment; then, there comes either Discovery or Discouragement. For anything worth working hard for…for anything of value, a breakdown usually occurs before a breakthrough. Your job guys, is to decide on the reaction or response that will yield growth”.
The great Dan Kennedy’s has something he likes to call The 3-Legged Stool of Achievement. Try to picture in your mind a 3-Legged Stool. If any one leg is missing, you can’t sit on it; you topple over. One leg is no more important than the other. All three legs share exactly equal importance. Two without three is no better than one without two or even none. All three are vitally necessary. Their importance is evenly, perfectly balanced. So, one of these legs is: INFORMATION. Another: ADVICE AND ASSOCIATION. The third is: DECISION AND ACTION.
If you want to take your physique, your six pack abs, (or even your marriage, career, fantasy football team, etc) to the next level you need to take action and commit 100% RIGHT NOW. Not timid action. Not tiny action. Not tentative action. Not toe-in-the-water action. Not Google a ton more six pack abs articles action. Make a true commitment to success.
The Black Door
I know I’ve already referenced a ton of what my former teammates and I like to call ‘Coach stories’ in this article…but this one was too good to leave out. Back in the day, Coach used to always remind our team of a story he liked to call “The Black Door.” If you have never heard the story, or may be confused as to how it applies to your life and to getting six pack abs, here it is:
A Persian General has the enemy spy placed against the wall as the firing squad take aim and readies themselves to shoot upon the given order.
He slowly walks up to the spy and says, “I’m going to give you a choice about your fate. You can take the firing squad that is ready to carry out your sentence, or you can take what waits for you behind that Black Door.”
The spy asks, “What is behind the Black Door?” The General replies, “I can’t tell you. It is your choice.”
The spy starts to imagine the possibilities of a long and painful death. Perhaps there are tigers on the other side of the door that will tear him to shreds. Perhaps it will be snakes or another frightening death.
After some contemplation, he confirms to the general that he is ready to take the quick and simple method of execution or the firing squad. And the execution is carried out swiftly.
Afterward, a young corporal who had witnessed the whole thing walks up to the General and asks, “What is behind the black door?” The General replies, “It’s Freedom. But no one has ever chosen it. It seems that most people choose a death that they are familiar and more comfortable with than to risk the unknown.”
We used to have a giant sign in the locker room that said “To get all, you must give all every day in your training, and be willing to risk all every time that you compete.” This means that regardless of how difficult your training is, giving all when you train is always easier than risking all when you compete. So you must train as hard as you can…and be willing to lay it all on the line on when it counts. Win or lose you always give 100%.
As this diagram shows, when you go through the Black Door, you may fail in the process, but you’ll never have to go though the initial passage again.
Gradually, as you see Black Doors for what they are, new confrontations become less intimidating.
Building six pack abs for the first time is an excellent example of a Black Door, and reading through this article right now you may not have a clue of the important life lessons you’ll learn along the way. To you it may just be nothing more than torture training, dieting, and annoying lifestyle changes. But trust me, if you decide to finally make the commitment, regardless of the pain & suffering involved, you will reach that goal eventually.
Never Make Excuses
This tip is another no-brainer but since many people never seem to grasp this simple concept I decided to throw it in anyway.
Here’s the deal:
You may think that your situation is unique. It is not.
You may that you are the only person in the world with your “problems”. You are not.
There is nothing new about anything you are experiencing in your life. Chances are it has happened a million times before and many people have overcome the same situation.
I know a ton of people who have crappy genetics, no time to workout, kids, crazy work schedules, etc who are shredded as hell.
Look, if you’re going to make lame excuses for your lack of success in the gym, you should at least know exactly what your excuses mean. So the next time you fail to reach your goals and decide to provide countless “reasons why” you failed, just remember the 12 clinical names for your excuses.
1) Denial – refusing to accept or perceive some aspect of reality.
2) Projection – shifting one’s negative emotions or problems to someone else in order to maintain self-esteem.
3) Regression – reverting to behavior more appropriate to an earlier stage of life.
4) Repression – “forgetting on purpose” – pushing a distasteful or shameful experience or thought our of one’s consciousness and pretending that it does not exist.
5) Rationalization – providing a substitute reason for an occurrence. It is an attempt to cover up one’s failures or mistakes, to soften the blow.
6) Avoidance – staying away from situations that produce anxiety or bring repressed feelings to the surface.
7) Compensation – trying to make up for failure in one area by success in another area.
8 ) Identification – choosing another person an ideal and then trying to emulate that person.
9) Displacement – is discharging an emotion on something other than the situation that caused it.
10) Reaction formation – replacing a negative feeling with its opposite.
11) Escape – running away from problems through fantasy, books, movies, daydreaming or excessive sleep.
12) Sublimation – transforming “unacceptable” impulses into acceptable ones.
Guilty of any of these? Sure we all are. But now that you know exactly what they are, eliminate them permanently. Lame excuses and defense mechanisms will stop you dead in your tracks and prevent you from EVER reaching your goals. My advice is to avoid making excuses permanently. (pretty solid advice eh?)
Nutrition is (quite obviously) one the most critical aspects of your entire plan, but even though nutrition is important, you’ve got to keep things in perspective. What I’m trying to tell you is: don’t turn into a ‘Fitness Freak’ about your nutrition. You know the types…the OCD people you see on Facebook or at the gym who only eats 12.7 almonds at each meal or weighs everything they eat including protein powder down to the gram.
I can tell you right now that if I had to live like this I would just give up trying to get ripped and live healthy right this second. Life is supposed to be fun…and living life like that would totally suck! That’s why I use the KISS method when it comes to nutrition. Keep-It-Simple-Stupid!
There is no reason to complicate your nutrition to the point to where it takes over your life and you start freaking out if you ate 13 almonds instead of 12.7! Will that 0.3 of an almond really destroy your entire diet plan? REALLY?!?!
What I usually do is just portion out my foods. I’ll have some protein (chicken, bison, fish, etc) that’s about the size of my fist, then about a cup of carbs like oats, brown rice, or yams, a bit of healthy fat, and unlimited veggies. It’s so easy a cave man could do it! Of course, there are many effective ways to structure your nutrition plan but the fundamentals usually always remain the same.
Here are a few basic nutrition tips that will get you on the right track:
1) Breakfast is not the most important meal of the day. I don’t think there is one single “most important meal of the day” actually. They all should work together synergistically to help you achieve your goals.
2) You don’t need to eat 6 meals per day to get ripped. You also don’t need to pound a bunch of protein all day either. The research doesn’t lie – people selling you expensive diet programs and supplements do. I’ve been eating less frequently (as well as eating less meat & grains) and allowing my digestive system to rest & recover. I feel much more energy during the day and stronger in the gym as well.
3) Eating and drinking raw is great, but there are shortcuts you can use that save you a ton of time and energy. Using a greens supplement can help the cause and save you a bunch of time and effort. Juicing is awesome but it can be a real pain in the ass sometimes. I highly recommend using a combo of both – nothing is better than real food, but when you’re in a time crunch nothing beats a quality greens supplement.
4) Focus on optimizing health first (especially digestive health) and physique second. If your health sucks, you’ll never see results. I’ve been obsessed with digestive health ever since I first got sick with intestinal inflammation (“Crohn’s Disease”) over ten years ago – digestive health optimization should be the foundation of every nutrition program.
5) Stick to organic grass fed meat (avoid factory farmed meat), fish that isn’t farm raised, cage free eggs, free range chicken, as well as organic fruit, veggies, nuts, and seeds. If you aren’t sure what a ‘REAL FOOD’ is…here is a surefire way to test it out: just look at the ingredients. If there are more than three or if there is even ONE ingredient that you can’t pronounce or have no idea what it is, chances are that “food” isn’t real and you should probably avoid it.
For example, if you’re buying chicken from the grocery store and you look at the packaging and the ingredients say something like this: Chicken breast with rib meat, water, seasoning salt, sugar, food starch-modified, maltodextrin, spices, dextrose, autolyzed yeast extract, hydrolyzed corn gluten, soy, wheat gluten, proteins, caramel color, polysorbate 80, xanthan gum, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, chicken fat, chicken broth, natural flavors (plant and animal source),extractives of paprika, modified potato starch, and sodium phosphates, etc…you’ll know it fails the eye test. Don’t buy it!
6) Supplements are great, but they should only be used to back up what your nutrition plan is already doing. Right now, my primary supplements include: a greens supplement, omega 3 fatty acids, probiotics, digestive enzymes, and whey protein – I’ll discuss supplements in more detail below.
7) There is more than one way to ‘skin a cat’ so experiment and see what works best for you – then switch it up again. You must constantly evolve and not get stuck in certain “popular” ways of thinking for long periods of time. Learn, evolve, grow, and optimize upon what you’re currently doing. If you continue doing the same thing day in and day out you’ll probably get the same results.
These days it is so easy to get caught up in the hype and become a protein powder whore. I can’t even lie…those supplement ads can really suck you in! But sadly, protein powder doesn’t even come close to a real steak…or a real chicken breast when it comes to bodybuilding nutrition. Sorry! It just isn’t even close.
Remember, protein powder is just a supplement like any other and should be used as such. Also, keep in mind that protein powder is a processed “food” and typically contains a ton of artificial ingredients, fillers, and potentially toxic substances.
Pro Tip: I recommend using protein powder sparingly, or use a brand that doesn’t contain any toxic ingredients.
It’s no secret that raw fruits and vegetables are great sources of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and many other powerful nutrients (including phytochemicals which have been shown to even fight cancer). If you have been reading this site for a while you’ll know that I recommend eating roughly 30-50% of your food raw.
Honestly, it is just healthier that way. Raw veggies are full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, fiber, and bulk because they are “living” foods. As an added bonus, there are 20 active vitamins needed by your body as well as 17 minerals and trace elements and raw fruits & veggies can provide them all. The most efficient way to consume these nutrients is via raw juices so go out, grab a juicer, and get crackin.
I can’t stress enough how important veggies are for your health and physique. They contain a TON of nutrients that not only promote health and healing (recovery), but they will also help you with your physique goals as well. Here are a few helpful veggies:
Green vegetables like asparagus, spinach, leafy greens, zucchini, and broccoli typically contain important stuff like beta-carotene, calcium, folate, vitamin C, calcium, chlorophyll, lutein, fiber, and zeaxanthin.
Orange & Yellow vegetables, like carrots, yellow peppers, and yellow squash are loaded with vitamin C, lycopene, potassium, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and flavonoids.
Purple & Blue vegetables, like purple cabbage and blackberries are chock full of nutrients like vitamin C, flavonoids, fiber, ellagic acid, lutein, quercetin, and zeaxanthin.
Red vegetables like red peppers and radishes contain powerful nutrients such as lycopene, ellagic acid, quercetin, and hesperidin, to name a few.
And lastly, white vegetables like garlic, ginger, onions, and shallots are loaded with EGCG, beta-glucans, lingans, and SDG that provide powerful immune boosting activity.
Eat Living Foods
In other words, eat foods that are “alive” and unaltered by man. A perfect example is fresh organic spinach. It grows from the ground and man doesn’t make it in a food processing plant. Living foods (like fresh spinach) will improve your health and dead foods (aka man made “dead foods” like processed cookies) will take away from your health.
Your body can use the natural antioxidants, phytonutrients, fiber, vitamins, and minerals found in unaltered living foods to keep you healthy as well as keep your body functioning at its peak. Consuming living foods regularly is very important when trying to get ripped.
Pro Tip: An example of a “non-living food” is protein powder.
Decrease Liver Workload
As stated above, man made foods are dead foods…and the consistent consumption of dead man made foods (i.e. processed cookies, cakes, donuts, chips, sugary drinks, protein powders, etc) wreaks havoc on the human body. Not only are these types of foods generally very toxic, but most are almost instantly stored as fat (they may also be precursors to disease).
Your body also views substances like bleaching agents, alcohol, many over the counter drugs, food additives, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, and chemicals as foreign invaders and processing these foods puts an intense burden on your liver.
The liver has several metabolic functions (including glucose metabolism, protein metabolism, waste metabolism, fat metabolism, detoxification, bile production, and more) so if your liver isn’t functioning at its peak…or is slowed down due to ingested toxins…your fat loss and muscle building efforts will suffer (plus you may end up developing chronic disease). So be sure to avoid all foods that put additional stress on the liver so it can function properly and keep you healthy, strong, and lean.
Cycling your carbs is a very efficient way to shred unwanted body fat without quickly plateauing. If you’ve never cycled your carbs before, here’s a basic carb cycling schedule to help you get started:
In any given week: Have 3-4 medium carb days, 1-2 low carb days, 1-2 high carb days. On medium day carbs will be around 1-1.5 grams per pound of body weight, on low days carbs will be at 0.3-.80 grams per pound of body weight, and on high carb day carbs will be at 2-3 grams per pound of body weight.
(Note: Carb cycling can be a difficult concept to grasp if you’re just starting out as there are quite a few variables and parameters that require tweaking and adjusting. The basic outline provided above should get you on the right track but if you want something more detailed I lay out my full carb cycling plan in my Six Pack Abs Program).
This is just my opinion but I believe gut health is arguably the most underrated yet single most important factor to your overall health and well being. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – all diseases start in the gut. If you have poor gut health (which usually begins with poor digestion) you will constantly feel run down and sick, your body will function at less efficient levels, and your risk of chronic disease increases significantly.
Everything starts with digestion and maintaining a healthy gut flora balance is incredibly important (especially considering all of the crap that’s in food these days). Unfortunately, digestive health is one of the most overlooked issues in health & fitness today…and it shouldn’t be that way.
Good digestion is critically important, not only your overall health but for your fat loss and muscle building efforts as well. For example, you may have the best diet plan in the world, but it’s not what you eat that counts, but what you digest and absorb. If you don’t absorb the nutrients from your food you’ll most likely end up with deficiencies and illness – and your muscle building and fat loss efforts will suffer.
Everything begins with digestion; from the second you put the food into your mouth, until the minute you poop it out at the end of the digestive process.
To get your digestive health on the right track as soon as possible I strongly recommend you follow these 10 Tips For Better Digestion.
If you’re one of those people who skips out on fiber because you think “you don’t need it” or “that’s for old people” or “it’s embarrassing to take a fiber supplement” stop kidding yourself right now. Not only will fiber keep your bad cholesterol levels down and provide satiety while you diet down but it also drastically improves GI function and digestion. Again, I can’t stress enough how important good digestion is when it comes to maintaining overall health and building six pack abs (see above).
So be sure to include plenty of fiber with each meal (good sources include: apples, pears, raspberries, broccoli, brussels sprouts, oats, spinach, kidney beans, navy beans, and almonds, etc). I recommend eating between 20-25 grams of fiber daily.
Pro Tip: It can be difficult to get all of the fiber you need from foods sometimes so I highly recommend using a fiber supplement. (You can check out the fiber supplement I use here).
I shouldn’t even have to tell you this…but you need to keep variety in your diet. I don’t know about you…but eating dry, sodiumless, tasteless, flavorless chicken, broccoli, and brown rice six times a day every day flat out sucks! Just don’t do it! Any diet is boring without variety, but even more importantly, when we lack nutritional variety we can’t supply the body with all of the nutrients that it needs to remain healthy, strong, and lean.
Most diseases are associated with a nutritional deficiency of some sort so it is very important to add variety to your diet so that you can get the full spectrum nutrients that you need to remain healthy, get stronger, and get ripped six pack abs. If you’re ripped on the outside but also all ripped up on the inside…what’s the point? Trust me on this one bro…mix it up.
Progress To Alkaline
When training to build six pack abs, many people get stuck using unhealthy depletion diets, various macronutrient loading diets, etc…and in the process disrupt the body’s natural acid/alkaline balance and become overly acidic. (This is quite common with high protein diets).
It is hard to train and recover effectively when suffering with the annoying effects of acidosis. You see, proteins are acid forming foods and we must eat alkaline forming foods (fruits, veggies, etc) to neutralize the acid wastes from protein consumption.
This means that you should probably be eating a bunch more veggies with that chicken breast than you usually do. Finding a perfect balance can be challenging and confusing at first, but a good way to approach it is to try to maintain an 80% alkaline and 20% acid ratio. This means that in order to maintain a healthy, balanced pH, your diet needs to contain approximately 80% alkaline forming foods and 20% acid forming foods. Maintaining a proper balance can help you improve your health and get lean much faster.
The Meal Plan
I’ve been doing a ton of research lately and have found many of the applications and methods taught in The Renegade Diet to be very beneficial so I’ve been experimenting with this style of eating for the past several months.
The basic premise of the diet is to have a period of fasting that typically lasts from 14-16 hours where you eat nothing from dinner the night before until sometime the following late morning or afternoon. This allows the liver to detox, replenishes your body’s enzyme pool, and reduces much of the stress digestion places upon the human body.
After the fast is up the overfeeding phase begins and it typically lasts for roughly 4-8 hours. This strategy of fasting/under eating during the day and overfeeding at night allows leptin levels to remain in check while boosting glycogen stores at the same time. This has been shown to improve the fat burning and muscle building response. I’ve been testing this method out for almost three weeks now and I like the results I see so far.
Everything taught in the book goes against what you have been conditioned to believe when it comes to nutrition, but if you’ve been spinning your wheels and are looking to evolve, grow, and improve, I highly recommend you check the book out. ( You can download it at www.TheRenegadeDietBook.com )
Here’s one of my sample renegade diet style daily meal plans:
Meal 1 12pm – 30g protein shake, 1tbsp Athletic Greens, 6g Omega 3 Fish Oil
Meal 2 2pm – 25g egg whites, 1 cup spinach, 1 serving raw cashews
Meal 3 4:30pm – 8oz bison steak, 2 cups jasmine rice, 2 cups steamed kale
Meal 4 7pm – 8oz grilled chicken breast, 1 sweet potato, unlimited green veggies, apple cider vinegar
Meal 5 8pm – 1 cup raspberries, 1/2 cup sliced strawberries
After meal 5 there is a 16 hour fast until around noon the next day. Then there is the 4-8 hour overfeeding period.
Pro Tip: If you’re concerned about macros here’s a basic daily macronutrient outline: Eat approximately 0.8-1.0 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight, roughly 100-200 grams of carbs (depending how much you weigh), and 20-50 grams of healthy fats such as olive, coconut, and fish oil per day.
Cheat Meals: If you’re 19% bodyfat or less try to have one cheat meal or one carb load meal per week. Don’t go crazy though…when you carb load be sure to stick to healthy carbs like brown rice, yams, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, and fruit.
We have all taken supplements before in some shape or form, but how good are they for us? Do they even work? Which ones work and which ones don’t? The answer my friend is…most supplements do not work at all. There are a few out there that work pretty well, but the vast majority of them do not do much of anything.
Not only do most supplements not work, but they are also un-regulated and dangerous. In fact, they may do more harm than good, which is why I choose to personally avoid 99% of them. Most “sports supplements” (muscle builders, fat burners, pre/post-workout mixes, etc) are highly over-rated, overly hyped, and a waste of your hard earned money.
Please do not keep falling for the savvy supplement marketing sales pitches and false claims selling you on a dream. You will not add 30 pounds of muscle in 30 days, lose 30 pounds in 11 days, “cure” your body of unknown toxins using a miracle cleanse, or get a 378% increase in strength from some weird tree bark found only in the Indonesian Mountains. It’s all bullshit!
So as far as “sports supplementation” goes, (the stuff like Creatine, Pre-Workouts, Nitric Oxide, Testosterone Boosters, etc) I can’t sit here and lie to you and say that supplements are the greatest thing in the world because they aren’t. Frankly, most supplements just plain suck and experts have argued that over 90% of supplements these days do not even work. (My number is more like 99% but hey that’s just me)
Now I am not saying that all supplements are garbage, in fact there are a few that are pretty good that I use myself.
Remember, supplements are only there to supplement your program. They will not make or break you, and they will not help you get ripped or build muscle. Do not rely on them too much, but use them wisely to enhance your progress as needed.
In my humble opinion, you don’t need to really use ANY supplements to get ripped – all you really need to do is apply the basic nutrition fundamentals you’ve already learned and combine that with a solid training program. Trust me, if you apply just a few of the dietary principles that you have learned so far…when you go to the gym and your friends ask you what you are “on” a few weeks from now you can just smile and tell them… “I am on a well-designed training and nutrition plan, and that’s it!”
Here are my top 5 most important supplements:
• Greens Supplement
• Omega-3 Fatty Acids
• Digestive Enzymes
These may not be the typical supplements you’ve seen discussed on popular bodybuilding forms and in the magazines but trust me, if you use these, you’ll see an increase in overall performance, digestion, energy, strength, and more.
Pro Tip: Studies have shown that taking prescription strength GOYA once a day can increase your gains in the gym by over 1000%.
Note: I reveal all of the supplements you should take (as well as the ones you should never use) in my Six Pack Abs Program.
We have already discussed most of the important fundamental principles to building six pack abs, now we are going to discuss everyone’s favorite part – abdominal training. Now, as logical as it may sound to do 1000 crunches and sit-ups to get six pack abs – science tells us that not only is that an ineffective way to develop your abs, but these exercises also increase your risk of significant spine injury.
You’re never going to get shredded doing crunches, sit-ups, or doing workouts comprised of isolation movements and machine exercises. You’ve got to stick with multi-joint, total body movements like deadlifts, squats, rows, and presses because they will promote more total fat loss and promote a much bigger muscle building response than crunches and sit-ups ever will.
The following exercises will help you produce a ripped, muscular, athletic physique that you’ll be proud of:
Legs: Barbell Squat, Lunges, Deadlifts
Back: Deadlifts, Pull-ups
Chest: Bench Press, Push-ups
Shoulders: Military Press, Hang-Clean and Press
Arms: Dips, Close-Grip Pushups
These exercises should be the foundation of your training program. Then, once you get more advanced with your training you can incorporate olympic lifts like cleans and snatches into the mix. Next, you can complement these exercises with some bodyweight exercises like handstand pushups, single leg squats, scorpions, and a ton more prison workout type exercises.
This mix of exercises will help trigger a huge metabolic response within the body as well as help you get stronger, which in turn, will help you get ripped and build a better physique as you progress.
Pro Tip: If you’re new to bodyweight training and are looking for a good resource that will help you get bigger, stronger, and leaner check out Convict Conditioning by Paul Wade.
The Best Ab Exercises
I’m sure you’re probably saying to yourself “compound exercises are great, but what about the ab exercises…?”
I’m getting there, relax.
The best ab exercises have been debated for years, and just about every trainer, “guru”, and amateur lifter out there all seem to have their own theory about which ab exercises are the best, and which ones suck.
Some of these theories have merit, others not so much.
To add to the confusion, there are literally millions of websites out there dishing out advice (some of it good, some of it bad) about how to build six pack abs…so it isn’t surprising that there are so many people who are frustrated with their lack of six pack success.
Here is one of the main “obstacles to progress” most people encounter when training their abs: They usually rate the effectiveness of a particular ab exercise based on the level of the “burn” they feel while doing the exercise.
Their strategy mainly consists of doing a ton of reps, “feeling the burn” and then “feeling sore”. Now this strategy may make perfect sense based on common logic, but it is highly ineffective when analyzed using biomechanics.
Feeling guilty? Don’t worry, we all are to some extent!
This brings me get back to the question of the day: What are the best ab exercises to build six pack abs and/or a strong core?
Let me rephrase that…
What are the best ab exercises that will help you activate upper and lower rectus abdominis, as well as the external and internal obliques, while hopefully minimizing lumbar paraspinals and rectus femoris activity?
Here’s the English translation…
What are the best ab exercises that will work your abs the hardest while the areas that often take over the movement during traditional ab exercises (hip flexors and lower back) have minimal movement involved?
If you know anything about my training philosophy, you’ll know that I don’t believe training the abs directly is the most efficient approach to building six pack abs. Especially if you have a body fat percentage that is too high to see any visible abdominal definition.
So with that being said, you must understand that the real key to building a shredded six pack is simply losing all the excess bodyfat that is covering your abs. Everyone has ab muscles, the only problem is that for 99.9% of the population those abs are covered by a layer of blubber. If you lose the fat, that’s when you’ll see your abs. Period.
That’s why I recommend using a more total body approach that focuses primarily on compound movements, smart “cardio”, and then using ab exercises as a finishing touch.
As I stated earlier, I’m not a big fan of crunches and sit-ups – regardless of how intense the burn may be from doing them, neither one of these exercises is all that effective in building six pack abs and are a huge waste of time and effort.
My reasoning behind this is simple: Crunches and sit-ups are resistance exercises…and just like any other resistance exercise…if you can perform it for high repetitions (30 or 50 or even 100) reps it likely won’t be very effective for radically improving your body composition.
The ideal rep range for working the abs is between 10 and 20 reps – anything more or less and you are probably wasting your time. Also, not only do crunches and sit ups put a lot of stress on your lower back, but they don’t really generate much muscle activation either.
Below you’ll find my list of what I believe to be the best ab exercises for each specific part of the abdominal region. If you are unfamiliar with abdominal muscle anatomy, the chart below will help you know which muscles you’re using, where they’re located, and what they’re called. Feel free to refer back to it if you have to.
The Best Ab Exercises Sorted By Abdominal Region (some are listed twice because they work more than one area)
Hanging Leg Raise
Swiss Ball Crunch
Swiss Ball Pike & Roll-out
Squats (to parallel)
Lying Leg Throw
Ab Wheel from Feet
Ab Wheel from Knees
Hanging Leg Raise
Tornado Ball Slam
Swiss Ball Pike & Roll-out
Lying Leg Throw
Ab Wheel from Feet
Turkish Get Up
Hanging Leg Raise
Swiss Ball Pike & Roll-out
Lying Leg Throw
Kneeling Cable Lift
Tornado Ball Slam
Squats (to parallel)
Pro Tip: Here are a few more exercises you can use to help develop and strengthen your core: L-Pullups, Chin-Ups, Front Squats, Sledge hammer slam, Alligator crawl, plate pushes, windshield wipers, kettlebell slams, Mountain Climbers, Plank, Renegade Dumbbell Row, Forearm Plank, and Sumo Deadlift to Curl.
The Best Ab Workout Routine
If you’re on a quest to get a flatter waistline or even chiseled six pack abs, you don’t have time to piddle around on the internet Googling silly ab routines all day. You need to put your trust in science, biomechanics, and factual evidence; not in the level of the abdominal burn you feel during an exercise.
My Six Pack Abs Program includes a variety of ab exercises, some are traditional, but some are not as common. In fact, some of my favorite “ab exercises” aren’t even what most people would consider an ab exercise! For example, some of my all time favorites “non-ab” ab exercises include: back squats, power shrugs, sumo deadlift to curls, thrusters, depth jumps, jump squats, burpee pull-ups, and scorpions.
So now that you know some of the best ab exercises to help you build better abs, here is an ab workout to try where you can put it all together. This is one of my favorite ab workouts and it contains most of the best ab exercises listed above. It will work the hell out of your abdominals, obliques, & lower back.
Pro Tip: I typically train my abs once or twice per week and 10-20 reps per set is ideal.
Here is the routine:
|A1:A2||Super-Set1. Hanging Leg Raises2. Windshield Wipers||-22||-1220||–:75|
|B1: B2: B3||Tri-Set1. Chin Ups2. L-Pull Ups3. Reverse Hyper||-111||-8-108-1015||—-|
|A1:A2||Super-Set1. Ab Wheel2. Swiss Ball Pike & Rollout||-22||-1212||–:75|
|B1: B2: B3||Tri-Set1 Tornado Ball Slam2. Turkish Get Up3. RKC Plank||-111||-:608:60||—-|
How Often Should You Train Abs?
Conventional wisdom tells you that doing several hundred crunches or sit-ups each day is the most effective strategy…
Because, as we discussed earlier, most people typically judge the overall effectiveness of an ab exercise based on the level of ‘burn’ they feel…
…or how sore they are after their workout.
“Hey my abs are on fire, that must have been a great workout, right?”
Perhaps, but not necessarily…
You see, ab exercises are resistance exercises, and just like any other resistance exercise, if you can perform it for high repetitions (30 or 50 or even 100) reps (especially day after day) it typically won’t do very much to improve your body composition. Plus, doing endless reps of abs is usually a huge waste of time.
Frequency, Intensity, & Rest are very important. This tip is a bit controversial, but there is a method behind my madness. You see, abs are muscles too and they need time to rest and recover just like any other muscle. You can train abs a bit more frequently than you can other muscles…but training them more than 2 or 3 times per week is usually just overkill.
Personally, I train my abs 1-3 times per week for about 20-30 minutes each session, and I usually keep my reps in the 10-20 range. (Sometimes I’ll even go for weeks without doing a single “ab exercise”).
Pro Tip: Prioritize based on your goals. For example:
Ab goal = dense more muscular abs: train abs 2X per week, high intensity, 6-12 sets, 10-15 reps.
Ab goal = maintenance mode: train abs 3-4X per week, moderate intensity, 4-8 sets, 15-25 reps.
Ab goal = injury prevention: train abs 5-7X per week, low intensity, 1-3 sets, 50-100 reps.
Pro Tip: Abs are a muscle just like any other – so the harder you train them, the more rest they will need. Always respect the relationship between training frequency and intensity/volume regardless of what muscle you’re training.
If you’re anything like me… you HATE doing cardio! I can’t even stand the word, “cardio”. It just sounds so lame and played out – almost like a made up fitness term you’d hear on a cheesy workout VHS from the 1980’s. *shiver*
Regardless of the term you use though, you’ll still want to burn off thick layers of beer belly fat and nastiness (without having your balls go numb on a bicycle seat or running in place like a rabid hamster).
Let’s face it, traditional cardio methods suck. They’re boring, they boost your cortisol levels (the hormone that burns muscle tissue and stores bodyfat), add wear and tear to your joints, and I find them to be practically useless (especially if your primary goal is to get jacked and stay lean).
Instead of doing things the old-fashioned (and largely ineffective) way, I suggest you keep your “cardio” sessions short – preferably 5-15 minutes long – this intense and short duration method will boost your anabolic hormone levels instead of draining them. This method allows me to maintain 5-6% bodyfat all year without losing any of my hard earned muscle.
Don’t be one of those lame meatheads who only lifts weights and ignores all the other components of fitness. Be sure to walk, run, hike, bike, play pickup hoops, flag football, try kickboxing, or get another form of cardio in for at least 30 minutes several times per week. Your heart will thank you in the end.
Trivia question: if you and a steroided out 275 pound “bodybuilder” who can barely run for 30 feet are both getting chased by a bear…who do you think the bear will run down and eat first? Exactly.
So if you don’t want to be the lame dude who gets tired and eaten by a bear (and hate doing long boring cardio sessions) I highly recommend you try cardio finishers.
I personally like to do ‘finishers’ at the end of my weight training workouts.
Here are a few of my favorite finishers (I actually stole these from my dude Jason Ferruggia)
Finisher Example A
1a) 50 Yard Hill Sprint- 3 x 1 x 15-30 sec. rest
1b) Squat Thrust- 3 x 10 x 15-30 sec. rest
1c) Walk Back Down- N/A
1d) 50 Yard Hill Sprint- 3 x 1 x 15-30 sec. rest
1e) Grasshopper- 5 x 10 x 15-30 sec. rest
1f) Walk Back Down- N/A
1g) Gate Swing- 3 x 10 x 15-30 sec. rest
Finisher Example B
1a) Jump Rope- 2 x 30 sec. on x 0 sec. rest
1b) Heavy Bag or Shadow Boxing- 2 x 30 sec. on x 0 sec. rest
1c) Muhammad Ali Shuffle- 2 x 30 sec. x 0 sec. rest
1d) KB Thruster- 2 x 30 sec. on x 0 sec. rest
1e) Heavy Bag or Shadow Boxing- 2 x 30 sec. on x 0 sec. rest
1f) Medicine Ball Prone Toe Touch- 2 x 30 sec. on x 60-120 sec. rest
Below is one of my favorite “cardio” workouts – I grabbed it from my 6 Pack Secret Program Manual just for you (and you’ll find a ton just like this one inside of The 6 Pack Secret, it’s 240 pages of ab blasting info)
This routine should be completed in less than 30 minutes, and each exercise should be performed after the other without stopping. If your fitness level is not high enough to finish in 30 minutes, cut the number of reps in half.
- For all timed exercises, maintain a fast tempo for the duration of the set and try to do as many quality reps as you can within that timeframe.
- Be sure to use a stop watch that has a beeping timer to make sure you stay on track for the rest periods.
- At the end of your rest period you will begin your next set right away.
- You will move from exercise to exercise with no rest in between sets.
- You may perform these exercises in any order that you choose.
|A||Prisoner Squats (hands behind head)||1||50||None|
|D||Leg Curls With Stability Ball||1||25||None|
|E||Jack-Knife with stability ball||1||50||None|
|K||Cool Down & Stretch||–||5:00||–|
Pro Tip: If your conditioning levels are advanced you may also want to try wearing a weight vest during your cardio workouts and/or dragging a sled. You can get a great workout by just walking at a brisk pace for 30 minutes while wearing a weight vest, especially when walking hills or hiking. Sled dragging burns a massive amount of calories, builds muscle, and makes you feel like a total badass once you’re done. (Trust me everyone will be staring at you like you’re a NFL prospect or gym badass)
There are a million different ways to train out there. Some are good. Some are bad.
But one of the worst ways to train (in my opinion) is getting stuck doing the same lame, rehashed, boring ‘bodybuilder’ style workouts for months on end.
I don’t know about you but I really get sick of doing the traditional back/bi’s, chest/tri’s, shoulders/abs, legs, split all of the time! Yawn!
That’s why I like to mix things up and do MMA style workouts sometimes instead of traditional bodybuilder workouts.
So I bet you’re probably wondering…but Jamin…do bodybuilding workouts actually work? Relax. Of course they work. In fact, traditional bodybuilding style workouts are VERY effective for building muscle and burning fat…and I do them myself quite often.
The only problem I have with traditional bodybuilding workouts is (1) they get boring, and (2) they aren’t for everyone. I usually only recommend them for high level bodybuilders, fitness competitors, or people who have been training seriously for 5 years or more.
If you’ve been a reader of mine for a while, you’ll probably know that I am a big fan of training like an athlete.
And with the emergence of MMA/UFC as one of the most popular sports in North America, the top MMA fighters in the world are now household names and are considered to be some of the most elite athletes on the planet.
Their workouts are tough, and everybody knows it.
So if MMA fighters and athletes are some of the biggest, baddest, most cut, and most jacked dudes in the world…why not copy their plan and train like them? Duh, right??
Now I’m not saying you have to train for 4-6 hours per day like GSP or Tito Ortiz…all I’m saying is that by incorporating some MMA style workouts into your training routine…it could help take your physique to levels that you never thought possible.
Plus, incorporating MMA workouts into your training split every once in a while will help eliminate the boredom that often comes with doing traditional bodybuilding style workouts all of the time…especially if you’re not a pro bodybuilder and have no desire to be…
You simply can’t get a better aerobic + anaerobic conditioning workout than MMA training anywhere.
You’ll build strength, endurance, and power…boost muscle growth…improve your six pack abs, and build up phenomenal conditioning.
I’ve been training MMA for about 10 years now and it’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. Not only has it helped me improve my physique and overall conditioning but it also helped save my life.
I know there is a ton of confusion out there about what’s the best way to train, blah blah blah, but here’s how I see it: If you want to be considered a TRUE athlete, you’re going to have to do more than just sit there looking ripped. Your muscles need to serve a purpose! Can you run fast? Can you climb? Can you swim? Can you defend yourself if your life was on the line?
Seriously, what good does looking ripped do you if you’re being attacked by a bear…or worse…if some psycho is trying to assault one of your loved ones? (Pro Tip: it does you no good at all bro, no good at all)
On a side note: There is nothing more impressive in ANY GYM than seeing someone kick a heavy bag with good form and great power. It turns just about every head in the entire building each and every time. The loud WHAP is simply impossible to ignore!
MMA Workout for Six Pack Abs
Below you’ll find one of my favorite MMA workouts – it’s a variation of one of the workouts you can find in my Free Combat Conditioning MMA Workout Manual.
MMA WORKOUT DISCLAIMER: This is an advanced workout. Try at your own risk.
Round #1. Plate Complex (Using a 45 pound plate)
Shoulder circles above your head :30 seconds each way
Bent over rows :30 seconds
Overhead squat :30 seconds
Plate to chest squat :30 seconds
Plate push :30 seconds
Heavy Bag kicks :30 seconds
Rest for 60 seconds & repeat.
Heavy bag burpees :30 seconds
Burpee pull-ups :30 seconds
2 handed overhead kettlebell slam :30 seconds
Handstand pushups :30 seconds
Heavy Bag strikes: 30 seconds
Rest for 60 seconds & repeat.
Bear crawl w/5 lb dumbbells in hands :30 seconds
Backwards bear crawl w/5 lb dumbbells in hands :30 seconds
Bear crawl with push-up every 5 steps : 30 seconds
Backwards bear crawl with push-up every 5 steps : 30 seconds
Rest for 60 seconds & repeat.
Lateral Shuffle :30 each way
Tornado ball :60
Tornado push-ups 5
Single hand kettlebell slam 8 each arm
Scorpions 4 each side
Rest for 60 seconds & repeat.
Speed Rope :60
Shadow boxing 3:00 minutes (then :60 second rest)
Heavy Bag upper body strikes 3:00 minutes (then :60 second rest)
Heavy Bag kicks & knees both sides 3:00 minutes (then :60 second rest)
Round #6 Cool Down
Walk for 10-15 minutes on the treadmill at a slow pace.
For more MMA type workouts just like this one be sure to download my FREE Combat Conditioning Workout PDF.
Everything Else You Need to Know About How To Get Six Pack Abs
The following tutorial will give you everything else you need to know to get started on your six pack quest.
1) What Are The Best Ab Exercises To Get Six Pack Abs?
2) How Should You Eat To Get Ripped?
3) How Long Should You Workout?
4) How Often Should You Train Your Abs?
5) How To Get Ripped Using Bodyweight Exercises
6) How To Optimize Digestion To Get Six Pack Abs
7) Do Artificial Sweeteners & Food Additives Ruin Your Abs?
8) 101 Tips To Get Six Pack Abs
9) How To Get Ripped Abs In Your Sleep
10) What’s The Best Exercise To Get Six Pack Abs?
11) Should You “Train Like A Man” To Get Jacked?
12) Do Protein Shakes Ruin Your Abs?
13) Hit It Raw To Get Six Pack Abs
14) How To Get Ripped In 6 Minutes Or Less
15) Will MMA Training Help You Get Ripped?
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