For years I’ve read the covers of magazines like Men’s Health and Men’s Fitness, and each and every month the covers of those magazines draw attention to our midsections. Here are some article titles from just the past six months of Men’s Health:
- Click Here for Abs
- Great Abs in 15 Minutes
- The Best New Abs Workout
- Statham’s Abs Secrets
- 3 Secrets About Your Abs
- Reveal Your Ripped Abs
- 20 Abs-Friendly Desserts
- Reveal Your Abs in 6 Moves
- 12 Foods for Rock-Hard Abs
- Carve Razor-Sharp Abs
- Sculpt Your Abs
- Fat Burning Abs Workout
- 7 Abs Exercises
- The MH Minute: Chisel Your Abs
- Yoga for Hard Abs
And that’s just the stories with “abs” in the title. If I also listed the titles using “6-pack” and “belly fat” there’d be no room for the rest of my article.
What They Won’t Put on the Cover
The problem with this is that although it apparently sells tons of men’s magazines, it’s less than honest to you, the reader: there is no way to target your abdominals for fat loss. When you add fat to your body, the fat goes wherever your body wants to put it – most often around your waist. When you lose fat overall, you get to see your rippling abdominal muscles. Pretty simple. You can do Russian Twists all day long, but if you’re eating more Whoppers than you can burn you’ll be left with a belly like the proverbial bowl full of jelly.
And the way to lose that fat is the same two-step method you use to feel better, slow aging and fight disease:
- Eat right.
Look at that! I’ve just saved you the price of The Abs Diet. Now, go spend it on your first month of gym membership.
What Goes In Your Belly Goes Around Your Belly
When it comes to eating, it’s all been said before (if you missed it, start with my overview on healthy eating). Get healthier foods into your house, lower in fat and sugar, free of hydrogenated oils and corn syrup, with as many fresh ingredients as possible. Six smaller meals instead of three big ones, lots of water, breakfast every day.
Have an eating plan, write it down and stick to it. The biggest hurdle to eating healthy is the lack of a plan.
Work Your Abs Without Crunches
An additional secret about your abs is that you can work them without doing endless reps of sit-ups, side crunches, or God forbid, something called the Ab Lounger. In fact, exercises like squats and even dumbbell curls can help strengthen your “core.” Free weight exercise helps your core in two ways. First, to maintain form and balance, you employ muscles far beyond the ones you’re targeting, including your midsection. You should be tightening your abs when you perform almost any exercise.
Second, the muscle you build will help your body burn more fat, revealing that washboard you’ve been hiding. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be doing some core exercises – both for the abs and the lower back – please do, they’ll help your posture and prevent back pain. My simple starter workout even includes sit-ups and back extensions.
However, it’s a waste of time to try and “sculpt” your abs until you can see them to begin with, and when that time comes, like bodybuilding in general, you’ll have to kick up both the resistance training and a very strict eating program if you want abs like you see on the cover of a magazine.
Really, the point is to get down to the abs in the first place. If you’ll just put in the work on a basic diet and exercise program, I think you’ll be plenty pleased with what you see, and you’ll save money on magazines.