Having a six pack is pretty f#cking rad.
How’s that for an opening statement?
It’s the truth though.
Life gets better when your abs go from blurry to painfully obvious. The opposite sex finds you more attractive. You generally feel better about your own self worth. And you are more than likely not only crushing it in the gym — but in all phases of your life.
Unfortunately, alongside all of these hype-ass-facts are a handful of sad truths. Little nuggets of utterly depressing actuality.
And among those sad truths is a single factoid that stands above all others:
Most of us haven’t the slightest clue how to uncover that rippling abdominal.
The pursuit for 6 pack abs can seem as realistic as winning the lottery or staying awake in your Intro to Biology class.
Read: Not likely.
In a similar fashion our failure with fitness boils down to one single failure.
The same aspect holding us back in the gym, is also what typically holds us back in class, relationships, and at any Mexican restaurant ever:
A lack of clear understanding.
Luckily, unlike Bio 101 and it’s apparent cure for insomnia, your ever increasing “dad bod” (or mom bod, I guess) is not something you are stuck with. And in fact, changing your body is a much simpler task than most realize.
Today we are going to be covering a handful of half-truth-bullshit that you’ve been fed over the years. Things that, while having value, tend to be extremely overhyped or completely misunderstood.
I may not be able to help with your impending Bio 101 doom (like seriously, what the fuck is a Eukaryote?). But uncovering those Bud Light laden abs?
Yeah, I can help with that.
Half-Truth #1: You have to eat clean.
It is no secret that how you eat directly dictates how your body looks.
Nutrition is often quoted as being 80-90% of the game in regards to a supa-shredded physique. And while the importance of Nutrition is an undeniable fact, I do not agree with it simply being painted as a percentage of your success.
Nutrition isn’t a big portion of the game, it is the game.
It is the light switch.
A yes or no kind of thing.
If you (don’t) eat correctly, you will (not) see results.
Not so ironically, that brings us to the first major misconception on our road to ripped glory (insert fart joke here). Most of us do not actually understand how to eat correctly. At least, not really.
We know that whole wheat foods are probably better than the whiter alternative; because of vitamins or bathroom regularity or something.
And we are pretty sure that tuna is healthy because the jacked dude in class keeps breaking out his stinky-ass Tupperware containers midway through a lecture.
But when it comes down to it, in regards to looking how we want to look, we don’t really know what we should be eating.
Dirty Truth: Food quantity > Food Quality
Let’s get something straight, food quality 100% matters.
IF you want to live a long and healthy life then making healthy choices is of utmost importance. Don’t devalue this fact. But it’s also important to realize that healthy does not always equal lean. And while they are not mutually exclusive, the manner in which you achieve either is a bit different.
When trying to shed body fat, the amount of food you eat becomes even more important than the types of foods you’re taking in.
To accommodate this you need to be tracking your daily food intake (calories). Keeping it high enough that you don’t hate life, but low enough that you see a downward trend in the amount of fat you’re carrying.
Where to start?
10 – 12 calories per pound of target bodyweight.
The good news?
You can now fit a couple treats into your diet.
The bad news?
You’re still on a diet. Sorry, Champ.
Half-Truth #2: Working your abs will help burn belly fat.
Having spent time in my fair share of gyms, I’ve noticed a rather peculiar phenomenon: The people you see working their abs most frequently, do not actually have visible abs.
Why is that?
In this situation, we seem to be missing the big picture. Thinking that by giving extra attention to our midsection, we will experience quicker and more drastic changes in that area. Sadly, where we want to lose weight is typically the very last place that we lose it.
Which, in all actuality, might be a good thing.
Other wise, you’d see a lot of these guys running around:
Dirty Truth: To lose fat anywhere, you must lose fat everywhere.
Since you cannot choose where your fat loss will occur, your best bet will be to focus on losing fat everywhere. Tracking big measurable changes in your body, like:
- Body Fat %
Sure, getting these measurements to change may take longer than your mom’s 30 minute abs DVD, but I promise you’ll appreciate the end-result much more than our fence-laden friends above.
Oh, and one last little tip: weigh yourself daily.
Preferably in the morning, naked, after using the potty. Track these numbers and then, at the end of the week, take those 7 weights and average them together for a weekly weight.
We all realize that weight fluctuations are normal and happen to everyone. But despite us knowing it is common, it’s easy to freak the fuck out when you’re actually living an upward fluctuation mid-diet.
A small upward fluctuation can mess with your head. And that mental hangup can lead to dietary failure or just an overall crappy day.
Don’t get caught in that cycle.
By weighing yourself daily you will be forced to deal with those fluctuation first hand and, in turn, you’ll also get to watch as your weight comes back down to normal a day or two after. The average-strategy removes the misleading nature of a weight fluctuation AND desensitizes you to a scale.
Man, what a Win-Win.
Half-Truth #3: Cardio is key.
Similar to the fascination with ab work, cardio is an incredibly similar paradox. Walk into any gym and you’ll quickly notice the people with the best bodies aren’t the ones hitting the elliptical for their daily power hour.
Popular opinion views cardio as the holy grail of fat loss exercise. But in reality, few things are bastardized more than cardio during a cut.
Cardio is a fantastic tool for increasing your daily caloric burn, but like the old adage goes — you can’t out train a bad diet. Couple that with the fact that highly intense cardio can severely increase hunger (making it harder to diet) and it’s easy to see how cardio tends to be over-hyped.
Dirty Truth: Cardio can help, but only when used strategically.
Cardio still has a place in anyone’s program, but only as a tool or a means to an end.
Cardio has a myriad of health benefits, especially psychologically. But it also has a few benefits to your physique as well, just not in the ways it is commonly attributed.
Near the end of your diet you may find yourself plateauing and unwilling to decrease calories any further. At this point, adding in some moderate cardio can help increase your deficit without further restricting your foods.
The key here is to choose cardiac activities that are either low intensity (to keep hunger and cravings to a minimal), or things that are fun. Like sports, outdoor escapades, sex, or (my favorite) a combination of all 3.
Don’t just start running because you feel like you have to.
Be sure it makes sense.
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Bits and pieces of this article have also been posted by the author via BroBible and MyProtein.