Day 72/73 of 90: The Ab Myth

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A few weeks ago I was speaking to a Ukrainian bloke who had lost 3 stone, through CV and swimming, and was planning on crunching his way to a six-pack – he literally did hundreds of crunches of one sort or another every time I saw him. Now please hear me, I’ve began to see a little definition on my obliques but I’m a long way from a six pack (though it might be my next challenge after this 90 days) but I do know this, that you cannot crunch your way to a leaner belly and here’s why:

1. Muscle is an active tissue that helps your body burn fat even when you are resting. Therefore, it would be better spending time on bigger muscle groups like legs, chest or back than concentrating on small muscles like abs. In fact, I read one article which claimed that abs can be developed without ever isolating abs (I only hit them occasionally and whilst they could be hit every day I would never spend a whole session on abs). This is because most peoples abs are hidden under a layer of fat, so regardless of how hard you work them you will not be able to see them until you drop your body fat percentage down to 10-15%.

2. This is to say, as the popular adage states, that abs are built in the kitchen as well as the gym. This does not mean that you have to starve yourself; in fact this will cause you to lose muscle and slow down your metabolic rate, but it does mean that you have to eat clean and enter a slight caloric deficit (burning more calories than you eat) if you are to see your body fat percentage decrease.

3. Finally abs should be trained like any other muscle. This means that whilst you may want to hit huge rep counts to fatigue the muscle, like 4 sets of 50, you also need to do more taxing ab exercises (possibly with weight/body-weight) in which your hitting 3 to 4 sets of 10-15 reps at least once a week. This increased intensity, like lifting heavy, will help aid quicker and bigger muscle growth.

So, regardless, if your looking to tone your tummy or you’ve been seduced by the six pack these are things that you want to consider.

Yesterday’s Food Log (carb-loading day)
Pre-Workout: boiled egg and steak cubes
Post-Workout: all-in-one shake
Breakfast: porridge, mixed nuts and goji berries
Snack 1: plain popcorn
Snack 2: dried apricot
Lunch: brown rice, steak, mushrooms, tomato, cottage cheese and chilli
Snack: a banana with peanut butter
Dinner: Thai based salmon with rice and peas (recipe)

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Desert: low fat Greek yogurt with cherry
Evening shake: whey
Snack: plain popcorn

Today’s Food Log
Pre-Workout: a tablespoon of peanut butter and honey
Post-Workout: all-in-one shake
Breakfast: porridge and mixed nuts
Snack: steak cubes
Lunch: Thai prawns with salad

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Snack: 2 kiwis
Dinner: chicken and okra curry with 2 chapatti (I wouldn’t had carbs but we were guests in someone’s house)
Snack: a falooda (an Indian ice cream sundae – hey it’s not everyday were in little India) (link)

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Evening Shake: whey

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