Chiseled Abs

It seems that the whole world argues about whether big muscular men are attractive. Some believe that a sinuous (almost skinny) body of a runner looks best. While others look at the swimmer’s build and wish to replicate it for themselves. And, yet another group looks at the massive bodybuilder physique and find that appealing. Regardless of which body type you dig on, there is one thing we can all agree on:

A man with chiseled abs simply portrays a strong core, physically fit body, and looks good to boot.

Before I dive into how you can reach a desired goal of having killer abs, I must insert my painful disclaimer…

WARNING: Working out and exercise can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled, or killed. The opinions and stories and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend getting a complete physical and doctors approval before starting any type of strenuous activity. Especially if you are over the age of 40 or have high blood pressure, genetic heart problems or conditions, or elevated cholesterol levels. If you choose to workout, you do so at your own risk. In addition, working out requires patience, diligence, and above all else, using good form. Never bounce or over strain!

There are literally tons of things I could tell you on how to make your core look killer. But, that would be silly and useless. Instead, I’d rather tell you about three things that will cut up your abs and have them beach ready.

1. Lower your body fat

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. This one may sound simple, but it really is the key to the whole thing. I have heard countless people say, “I don’t have abs.” Well, that is not true. All of us have abdominal muscles. It’s just that the majority are hidden under a layer (or two) of fat! If you succeed in lowering your body fat below 15%, you will see the abs cutting through. And, if you REALLY wanna highlight those bad boys, you will need to be 12% or lower.

2. Work your rectus abdominis and external obliques. These are the muscles that most people refer to when they say, “abs.”

3. Work your transverse abdominis. Whoa! Wait a minute??!! You exclaim. You might just be wondering what the transverse abdominis is… This is actually an internal muscle that wraps from your spine all the way around to your front. It cannot be seen externally, and you probably didn’t even realize it existed. However, I’m here to tell you that it might just be the most important muscle in the whole kit-and-caboodle. The transverse abdominis literally holds your core tight and keeps your organs in place. You might recognize it if I told you it is the muscle you clench when you suck your gut in. The picture (drawing) at the start of this article shows a more detailed view of the core muscles and give you a better understanding of where the transverse abdominis is located.

So, today’s post will focus on number three from the above list. We all already know that lowering body fat is important. And, we know that our abs will look killer with lower body fat. And, everyone knows that crunches, sit-ups, and side bends will do wonders for our abs. What many of you may not have known is that the transverse abdominis can help keep your belly in and tighten up your core as a whole.

First-things-first… In today’s technology age, most of us find ourselves sitting for eight or more hours each day. This has weakened our abs, and more than anything the transverse abdominis. So, you need to counteract this weakness by strengthening things.

So, here’s how we target this tough to hit muscle (Google each exercise if you aren’t familiar with these):

2-Point Bridge (prone)

2-Point Bridge (side)
(This looks like a more advanced version of the side bridge)

Stomach Vacuums

Here are two additional exercises used by belly dancers to strengthen the inner-abs…

Belly-Roll: You know this one… We did it as kids!

Flutters (not flutter kicks): Locate your diaphragm (just under the “V” of your rib cage). Many people say they can locate the diaphragm by panting while on all fours. To create the “flutter,” you have to create a vacuum by exhaling and then holding your breath. While holding your breath, raise your rib cage and laugh (big belly-laugh) and you’ll find that you should be able to move the muscle around the upper abs.

All of the mumbo-jumbo aside, my two favorites to do are: regular 2-point bridges and stomach vacuums.

As always, the most important part of any fitness related thingy is to do it!

Catch ya at the beach,

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Nutrition in a Nutshell

…from soup to nuts…

Let’s talk about food! after I go over the rules of engagement: DISCLAIMER – the ideas presented here are merely guidelines to help you on your path to enlightenment. I strongly urge (and insist) you to seek the help of a professional nutritionalist and doctor before attempting to make changes in your diet. If you follow any of my hair-brained schemes and ideas, you do so at your own risk!

Oxygen is a chemical element. By mass, it is the most plentiful element on earth. It is also the third most abundant chemical element in the universe. Often overlooked by healthy people, Oxygen is the most important thing that our body takes in.

Among other bodily functions that are affected by oxygen, ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is one of the biggies. Approximately 40% of ATP, or the high energy molecule, is made up of oxygen. Cutting through the obfuscation, ATP is a key part of our metabolism and muscular restoration. And, according to the percentages, oxygen is the key part of ATP.

What does all of this mumbo-jumbo mean? You ask. I bring it up, because for the most part we spend our day worrying about how much water we drink and the quality and quantity of food that we eat. But, we often overlook the most important element that our body needs… Oxygen.

Breathing exercises are a great way to increase oxygen levels in our body. There are manifold ways to increase your oxygen levels. Two of my favorites are:

  • Take four quick powerful breaths in through your nose. Then, exhale four quick blasts out your mouth. Repeat this for about five minutes and feel the energy shoot through you!
  • Take in a slow, deliberate and deep breath while counting to seven. Hold the breath for a count of 28 and then exhale slowly for a count of 14. You can change the number of seconds, as long as you do so in the following ratio: 1:4:2. E.g. 10 seconds in, hold 40 seconds, 20 seconds out. Or, 5 seconds in, hold for 20 seconds, 10 seconds out. I also regularly use a tool, called the PowerLung. It is a very powerful exercise tool that works the lungs like nobody’s business!

There are so many different opinions on how much water that we should ingest on a daily basis… The proper amount is a subject that I don’t even wanna touch on. Let me just tell you that water is a vital component that our bodies need. The human body is made up of approximately 65% water. We need it on a regular basis, or we will dehydrate and eventually die.

I am a firm believer in superhydration. I drink approximately 160 ounces of water each and every day

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. This may seem a bit excessive to many, but I can tell you that I feel better and stronger when I do. Also, I feel that my metabolism is working more efficiently. That said, if you decide to superhydrate, you must be aware of hyponatremia; which can be deadly.
Many people ask me about trips to the men’s room… Well, I think that my bladder adjusted. Shortly after I started drinking this much, I adapted. One thing that I should mention is, I try to limit my water intake after 5 p.m. to avoid nighttime runs to the porcelain convenience.

Food (protein, carbs and fats)
I’m not a big fan of the fad diets. Especially ones like the low carb Dr. Atkins ones. Carbohydrates are an extremely important part of your diet and they provide energy stores. On top of that, many of these diets have proven to mess with your body’s natural acid levels.

I feel that a balanced and healthy diet of 60% carbs, 20% protein and 20% fat is a great way to go. The caveat with this one is that the carbs must come from healthy sources. I also think that it is fine to eat smaller, more frequent and healthy meals. I am a firm believer in deciding on your meal plan and tracking your calorie intake. It often feels better to keep food coming in every two or three hours, instead of going 6+ hours between meals. I also find that it’s easier to control my intake when I eat throughout the day.

That said, I also like intermittent fasting (16 hour fast with 8 hour of eating) each day. I think the most important thing you can do is investigate all of the different forms of meal breakdown and do some of your own testing on your body. See what you like, can live with, and works for you.

I’m sure you’ve heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day… I know many folks who only eat lunch and dinner. They complain of low energy levels and usually have excess body fat. Spreading your meals out and eating healthier might help you find more energy and even start knocking some pounds off! Once again I believe the effects will be different for each individual. Do some of your own testing and find out for yourself.

Trans and Saturated Fats
Over the last couple of years we have heard more and more about TRANS FATS. They are horrible!! Remember that foods only have to list them if there is more than .5 grams in there… Instead of reading the label for TRANS FAT percentages, try looking at the ingredient list and seek out things like POLY UNSATURATED YADA (minus the yada).

Here is a neat site that lists many fast food restaurants who have stopped serving the devious TRANS FATS.

TRANS FATS are not the only bad fat out there. They have an ugly step-sister called SATURATED FATS as well. After TRANS FATS, SATURATED FATS are the next worst thingy. Avoid them wherever possible.

Remember that a certain level of fat intake is vital to your well-being. However, you can pick and choose which fats to ingest and which ones to skip right over. And, for goodness’ sake, skip that crazy diet that says eliminate most of your carbs and replace them with fat. That is malarkey (IMHO)!

I already stabbed the Atkins diet in the back… Need I say more? I am against diets (per se). When I hear “diet,” I hear, “DIE – et.” This just doesn’t ring true to my uber-sensitive ears. Instead of a diet (which comes and goes like the wind), why not create a nutritional plan that you can live the rest of your life with?

Do you need them? How much is too much? When should you take them? Is Santa Claus real? I can answer some of these questions…

Vitamins are an obvious necessity in your life. However, there is a craze and hype out there stating that you must take loads of them. Most people eat a nutritious enough diet to receive most of the daily vitamin needs that their body craves.

I take a multi-vitamin (half of the bottle’s recommended dosage) each night. I determined (by the deep yellow urine I was excreting) that I only needed half of the manufacturer’s recommended dosage.

I really dig some of the benefits of Creatine. I usually take Creatine Monohydrate (5 grams per day). I haven’t found any other supplements that do anything for me. I should mention that since starting the H.I.T. (High Intensity Training) style of working out, Creatine does less for me than before.

I will drink a weight gain shake and things along those lines, but I stay away from the majority of supplements that are available. There is a HUGE market out there. And, people spend gazillions on supplements that don’t really do anything for you. The best advice I can give you is to baseline yourself before and after taking anything and see if/where it gave you improvements.

Alcohol, Caffeine, and Nicotine
This is a tough subject for me. I indulge in all of these. However, I should mention that moderation has been my key to success. I may smoke one or two cigarettes per year (at least one on Thanksgiving after turkey and stuffing), several cigars throughout the year and an occasional hookah pipe (tobacco only, folks). I also have been known to dabble in a little drinking from time-to-time. Probably my biggest crutch is the caffeine… I go through stages of not drinking any at all to five cups of coffee per day.

“Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess!”
-Oscar Wilde

While this quote stirs feelings and sounds really COo.oOL, I must admit that I am a fan of moderation. This is true of more than alcohol and nicotine… I find that it works for everything in life. Try it on for size and let me know what you think.

Until next time, gambatte kudasai!


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