Six pack abs are like the holy grail of fitness: good luck finding them.
Forget what you see on TV. No one ever got abs from a pill or a four-week workout plan. Nothing about a six pack is quick. It takes months, if not years, to fine tune this muscle group.
Do you have what it takes? Answer these questions to see if you’re cut out for the most coveted prize in fitness.
Question #1: Are you prepared to eat the same thing every day?
The biggest showstopper to a six pack is body fat, specifically too much fat around the waist. All the crunches, ab-wheels and planks in the world cannot tone fat. To see abs, you must first lose fat, and that’s where diet comes in.
This plan is courtesy of my friend – a former bodybuilder. It resembles what he ate everyday pre-contest. Are you down?
In no particular order:
- Oats with peanut butter, cinnamon and berries
- 2 -4 chicken breasts or lean ground turkey: no salt, seasoning or sauce
- 8-12 oz salmon
- 8-10 cups of green leafy/cruciferous vegetables
- 1 sweet potato or white rice
- 5-10 egg whites
- Greek yogurt
You must know, there is no deviation from the script. Kiss goodbye to alcohol, bagels, pizza, fries and burgers. Even an innocent bite of a cookie can derail your efforts. Add work and a family to the mix, and be prepared to combine those efforts with more time in the kitchen. Meal prepping is the norm.
Question #2: Can you drink four gallons of water in a day?
Because that’s what you need to do.
A typical protocol:
Target date for abs: July 20
July 13-17: Drink two gallons of water a day
July 18: Drink four gallons of water
July 19: Drink one gallon of water
July 20: Drink NO water. Take pics. Move on. You are officially shredded.
[Note: Taper your intake, avoiding large gulps, and add salt to offset the loss of electrolytes.]
The technical term for downing copious amounts of water and then none at all is water cycling. To start it, you must already be lean. Water cycling ups the ante for that super shredded look. Used by bodybuilders and boxers, it delivers excellent results.
The initial surplus trains your body to flush out excess water stores, which it continues to do, even on the last day. By this point, a bodybuilder competing in a show would walk on stage with abs so ripped you could color the lines between them.
Speaking from personal experience, water cycling is brutal – it isn’t normal for anyone to drink up to four gallons of water in a day. It becomes a distraction from work, home life and play. Not to mention countless trips to the bathroom.
Question #3: Are you prepared to give up your social life?
Abs come at a social cost. If you’re limited by what you can eat and drink, by default your social life suffers too. Are you prepared to miss out on a summer-share in the Hamptons or your best friend’s birthday brunch? Memories are made with those we love and hold close. When you’re on a mission to look shredded, however, the decision to be part of those memories is one you inevitably have to make.
Question #4: Down for timing, weighing and logging your food?
When it comes to a six pack, your diet must be project managed with military like precision, and every bite accounted for. Buy a scale if you don’t have one, weigh your chicken breast, and only eat the banana if it’s an hour before or after your workout.
Nutrient timing and counting your protein, fat and carbohydrate intake is a prerequisite to six pack abs. This can be mentally draining, and eventually lead to eating disorders such as body dysmorphic disorder, as my friend explained to me.
The stakes become higher when considering some vegetables are off limits on certain days. Carrots and beets, for instance, have a higher carbohydrate composition than kale and broccoli, so unless you’re planning to weight train that day (which requires more carbs), eating any and all vegetables is not a luxury you have.
Question #5: Are you prepared to lose a six pack overnight?
This is the most fundamental question to ask yourself. If the abs that took months to build disappear in an instant, are you okay with that? Because they can and will.
Remember, this life is not sustainable all year round. Even bodybuilders and fitness models enjoy an ‘off-season’, eating a range of fruit and vegetables, and enjoying pizza on the weekend.
So, how did you score? It’s actually not important, what matters is that you should always strike a balance between health and physique goals.
As always, pushing for health.
DISCLAIMER: THIS DOES NOT CONSTITUTE NUTRITIONAL ADVICE. CONSULT A NUTRITIONIST OR TRAINER FOR A CUSTOMIZED PLAN.