(In this continuous series on combining mental toughness training with physical enhancement, I discuss how you can simultaneously improve your body and your mind. In the last post on this series, I went over the importance of bracing your abs during movements. By getting your abs tight, you are protecting your spine, but also working your abdominal much harder than with traditional ab movements. The problem must people have when training their mid-section is due to all the fitness lies that the media has been brainwashing us to believe. Most of the information on how to get a six-pack is so wrong and down right ineffective. As a result of the poor advice, the majority of people work their abs for hours every week and they still can’t see any definition.)
The worst advice all those celebrity fitness trainers are tell you is do “spot reducing training.” This is when you concentrate on a specific area of your body to lose fat, like just targeting your stomach and ignoring the rest of your body. Once you’ll realize that full-body movements are the most effective way to shedding the lard around your middle, you’ll see how flaw this abdominal “spot reduction” concept really is
First of all, isolated movements like crunches or sit-ups are so short and isolated, you don’t burn enough energy to cause any sort of metabolic disturbance. In other words, they do very little if anything to get your body to burn the fat in your belly. In this post, I talked about how raising your metabolism is the key to burning fat in your body. I don’t care if you do you do a thousand crunches. Crunches and sit-ups aren’t big enough movements and intense enough to affect your metabolism. All they do is give you a burning feeling in your stomach giving you the illusion of burning fat.
Having a defined midsection is the result of getting your body fat close to single digits. Most of you already have pretty good abs; they are just being blocked by the excess fat you have stored in your tummy. So if the goal is to get rock hard abs, you’ve got to get reduce the fat cells throughout your whole body. The best way to do this is with high intensity anaerobic work, which is the main protocol in this mental toughness system. I always said sprinting is the best exercise to get a six-pack because it stimulates your body to burn fat in all areas in your body. There is no way you can get the fat off your stomach without getting it off your whole body as well. Imagine the fat on your body is like a container of turkey fat that’s floating in your kitchen sink that you are about to drain. When you pull the drain stopper, the whole cup of turkey fat goes down the drain and not only certain parts of it. You burn fat in the body the same way. It has to come off proportionally throughout your body.
Now if you need more of visual to convince you that abdominal “spot reduction” doesn’t work, just go to any commercial gym and watch how people train. In the ab room (or the “frustration room” as I call it), you’ll probably see a bunch of people yanking their heads in a failed attempt to do a crunch without a drop of sweat to whip off. And I would wager to bet most of them do not have flat stomachs either. The last time I was at a commercial gym I saw this guy that was about two hundred pounds overweight working in one of those seated ab crunch machines. Watching him do one single crunch and then sitting there and do nothing for about 10 minutes is just wrong.
If you learn anything from my words, learn that when in doubt, do the opposite of what people are doing in the gym.
Nothing is more opposite than training the whole body as one unit. When you do compound movements and brace your abs as tight as you can while doing them, you will distance yourself even more from the misinformed mainstream.
You’ll be stronger and finally have that elusive six-pack that the masses coveted after, but fail to get.
Now that you know the truth behind getting six-pack abs, go lift some heavy weights and squeeze your abs hard.
Being different is good.Being stronger and looking good is even better.
Today’s strength day WOD –
5 sets of 5 reps –
Incline dumbbell bench press
For today’s WOD, I want you to stick with the theme of training the whole body with compound movements for strength development and abdominal work. The challenge for you today is to brace the abs hard before you pick up the weight and during the whole movement. If you pick up a barbell and then get tight in the stomach, it is probably too late and you must likely will put your spine in a bad position and perhaps even a dangerous one. So remember Dr. Starrett’s getting tight principal: shoulder’s back, abs braced, glutes on and screw your feet hard in the ground. Sometimes, I say these checkpoints out loud before I grab the weights and sometimes I say them quietly in my head. The point is, you want to make this “bracing” checkpoint a habit for you before you begin any movement. Your spine will thank you and so will your abs.
The most questions I get about this “bracing” method is how does one breath when their abs are super tensed up. Simple – through the diaphragm. The trick is to not lose tension in your abs when you inhale. One way to do is to think of your abs as a tight corset. Keep the tension on, especially when you lift heavier loads. The heavier the weights, the more muscle you will recruit in your abdominal region. The by-product of this constant contraction in you abs will be stronger ab muscles. The tension in the abs from this bracing method is way more intense than low impact movements like silly crunches.
The combination of strength work and metabolic conditioning WODs will change your overall body composition. When your back gets more muscular so will your abs. When your legs get more defined, so will your stomach. When you lose that hanging fat in your triceps, you will lose the softness around your belly too. To get a better body, you must do hard work. However, in order to push yourself to do hard and intense work, you must have a strong mind. Your mind must be able to handle the challenges of strength training and high intensity workouts. Which brings us full circle with mental toughness development and training for pure aesthetics. They both can co-exist together if one has a mentality to handle adversities in many forms. When you are tough minded, you can push yourself to lift heavier weights, run fast fast and longer which indirectly will result in a better and healthier body. Always remember this motto behind mental toughness training – Strength the mind first and a better body will follow.
It all begins with training the body and mind as one complete unit. So forget about the individual body part and spot-reduction crap that you were told to do. These short movements are pretty useless, especially when your goal is to show off your ripped stomach at the beach. Whole body movements are the way to go to getting a more toned body not only in your back or chest, but all over your body.
That includes your abs.
Scaled back version of this strength WOD –
1. Do three sets of three reps
1. You can use dumbbells or a barbell for the push presses. Also, if you don’t feel comfortable doing push presses, strict military presses are fine.