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The AbSolution: The Sexy-Smart Guide to Abs

Today’s Guide to Abs guest post comes courtesy of Galen Lundin, a trainer, amateur bodybuilder, and owner of Rapidtransformationtraining.com in Chicago.

Like Galen, I started working out because I was scrawny as hell and didn’t like the way I performed as an athlete or looked.  Anyways, as a bodybuilder Galen has significant experience with training for your best physique and eye-popping abs. 

I understand why many people gravitate towards crunches and tons of cardio. You feel a crazy burn that makes you think you’re losing fat and getting shredded abs.
Thing is, there’s a difference between “feel, and real.” Repetitive flexion on your spine combined with neanderthal posture is a spine killer. While spinal flexion isn’t all bad, overuse won’t get you tons of lean muscle, athleticism, nor burn fat.

To the point: Some flexion and cardio is okay, but it’s not the sole approach to getting the body you want.

Either way I think of myself as a middle-of-the-road dude with an open mind.  Everything has it’s time and place when performed in balance– except El Camino’s – abdominal flexion and steady state included. That said, I prefer high-intensity bursts of energy like sprints and throwing around weights.

Enough of me though, I enjoyed this piece by Galen and I hope you do too.

I get it, you want abs.

Not once have I had a client come to me and say “Nah, I’m good, my abs are pretty much ripped, I don’t want to look too good.” Zip.Zero. Nada. It ain’t happenin’. The truth is everyone has abs, you just can’t see them because there is a whole bunch of fat covering it, kind of like a big parka on a cold winter day. So how do we get rid of this stubborn fat?

DIET+EXERCISE=SEXY ABS

Diet will be covered in my free report below. This post covers the other hidden aspect for abs: How to train intelligently to show of your summer six pack.

GETTING ABS TAKES WORK.

People often complain about not having the body they want and typically here are the two factors:

1. Shitty diet

2. Shitty workout frequency

Here’s a typical client/coach conversation:

Client: “I can’t seem to lose this stomach fat!”

Galen: “Are you still doing cardio, tracking calories, and not skipping on workout sessions?

Awkward pause ensues. Crickets.

Client: “No.. BUT!!”

BINGO. BOOM. POW. The dagger in my heart.

While disappointing, It’s not entirely their fault. People are lead to believe that you can get “flat abs in 7 minutes a day.” False advertisements cover your  grocery store shelves with the rest of the instant gratification treats. This works for quick sales and shady business, but you need to put in the work to get abs.

If you’re only working out 1-2x/week Abs aren’t for you. Even if you’re EXTREMELY disciplined in your nutrition to the point of measuring every grain of rice you’d be hard-pressed to find abs. Plus, you’d hate life.

The Training Guide to Abs

Traditional Cardio:

I hate to break it to you, but traditional cardio isn’t the answer. Far from it. Excessive plodding cardio leads to the following effects:

  • minimized recovery from a previous workout
  • Increases cortisol (a stress hormone which can decrease fat burning)
  • Burns A LOT LESS CALORIES THAN YOU THINK!
  • Muscle loss, but minimal fat loss.

Now, I’m not saying you can’t run ever. Far from it. Running it’s not the death-sin that most portray, but it isn’t the answer for fat loss and getting your abs to pop.

Galen’s Recommendation: I recommend walking at an incline so your heart rate stays around 65% of your maximum heart rate. Your max heart rate can be calculated by taking 220-(your age)= Max HR. Try keeping it at this level for 30-45 minutes 2-3 times per week as well as high intensity interval training.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

High intensity interval training (HIIT) is the best cardio option for shredding fat. Research suggests that short bouts of high intensity exercise or high intensity interval training (HIIT) is more effective and time efficient that plodding steady state cardio (Laforgia, J. et al). An interval for example would be sprinting for 30 seconds then resting for 30 seconds.

Take a look at an Olympic sprinter vs. a marathon athlete- who looks better? The sprinter, obviously.

 

Partly to genetics and greatly to training, sprinters have lean, muscular physiques whereas marathon runners are scrawny, have little muscle mass and are riddled with high cortisol level.

The takeaway: Focus on the most effective exercises like  deadlifts and squats, then hammer home HIIT exercises like sprints to shred fat all over your body.

Warning: This type of training isn’t for the faint of heart, it will be challenging both physically and mentally, but it will make you leaner, stronger and sexier. HIIT can be performed with nearly any tool in any environment. My favorites are:

  • Sprinting outdoors or on a treadmill
  • Using kettlebells for timed circuits
  • Bodyweight exercises such as jump squats, mountain climbers, burpess etc…
  • Battle ropes
  • Sandbag Training

HIIT is typically performed in intervals, exercising for a set period of time followed by incomplete recovery– Exercise for 30 seconds followed by a 30 second rest would suffice. The intervals can be set up however you like but it is important that you go “all out” during the sprint stage. If you can perform more than 10 minutes of HIIT you are not training hard enough.

COMPLEXES

Complexes are an effective means for fat loss and additional training volume. These incorporate compound movements one after another in one giant fat-shredding set.  These compound movements are performed with dumbbells, kettle bells, and/or sandbags.

Here’s an example of my most favorite complex.

P.S. It totally blows.

Eric’s Note: Based on the name, I would think so. The Bears generally do 😉

THE BEAR COMPLEX

  • 5 deadlifts
  • 5 bent over rows
  • 5 hang cleans
  • 5 overhead presses
  • 5 squats

Eric’s Note: For more on complexes Check out my post here

AB TRAINING

Read my lips: Doing tons of sit ups won’t give you a 6-pack or get rid of love handles.  Old school ab training isn’t exactly the best thing for your spine. Excessive loading while bending may send one of your discs shooting out of your spine like cannon. This type of traditional ab training is especially bad for desk-jockeys who already have a hunch-back posture. Abs play numerous roles to help you perform better, improve health, and make you look hot as hell. There’s more to them than flexion exercise like sit-ups. Think of the abdominals as an “anti-movement” muscle group– they prevent movement. The main purpose of the core is to stabilize the spine in a “home” or neutral position.

Here’s an analogy for you:

Imagine your core is an empty water bottle. Squeeze it and guess what happens? You crush it. Now take that same water bottle and fill it with water. Now try to crush it… Unless you’re a polar bear the water bottle stays intact from the external forces.

That full water bottle is how your core protects your spine.

What the hell Galen, this is a Guide to Abs and I can’t do crunches?!

Hold your horses Seabiscuit. I’m not saying you should never do traditional ab work, but the role of the core or “abs” has a completely different role than people traditionally think.

We break it down we have four main ab training categories:

1. Anti-Rotation

a. Lateral rotation flexion

2. Anti-Extension

a. Lateral flexion

3. Anti-Lateral Flexion

a. Lateral rotation flexion

4. Hip flexion with neutral spine

a. With spinal flexion

Here are some video examples below:

1. Anti rotation

2.Antiextention:

3.Anti-lateral flexion

4. Hip flexion with neutral spine

Out of all these movements the flexion movements should be trained sparingly and try to focus on all the “anti” movements. To create a routine, pick an exercise from each group (1-4) and perform 2-3 sets.

Here’s an example workout:

1.Ab Wheel or Ab Rollouts

2. Single Arm Dumbbell Farmer Walks

3.Cable Rotations with Neutral Spine

4. Swiss Ball Pikes

ABSolutely Awesome Wrap Up
For your best abs training is only one piece of the puzzle. Without training the definition in your abs will be harder to come by.  By combining a sound, science-based approach to core training with a sound nutritional plan (below) you’ll have the perfect AbSolution. To get the full, in depth guide, check out the report below.

Check out the full Absolute Guide to ABS here:

ABSOLUTE ABS

Laforgia, J., Withers, R., & Gore, C. (2006). Effects of exercise intensity and duration on the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. Journal of Sports Sciences, 1247-1264. Retrieved August 15, 2014, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17101527

About the Author:

abs, ABSolution, guide to abs

Galen Lundin is an aspiring author, high advocate of the work hard play hard lifestyle and amateur bodybuilder. High nice-tough love approach to coaching allows you to get the body you want while having some fun along the way. Want more smart sexy ab training? Click HERE.

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Should Women Train Differently than Men?

Recently, I’ve been receiving questions on how females should train. Most have the goal of looking leaner, toned, and a more curvy. In this post, I wanted to answer the most frequently asked question, “Should Women train differently than men? ”

Short Answer: No, not really.

With the questions I frequently get, I have put together 7 considerations for helping sculpt a sexy female figure.

1.) “Toning” and “shaping” are not the answer.

Weight training in popular media for women generally revolves around words such as “toning and shaping.”
Lets examine “toning” This term is used to make muscles appear firmer, and tighter without them appearing bigger. It’s a common, but extremely thawed thought. Routines based upon “toning” likely involve extremely light weights for very high rep amounts. Think pink dumbbells for 20 rep sets of triceps kickbacks. Unfortunately, these routines are not challenging enough to the muscle to force growth and change.

Without challenging you body to grow and change, how will it look any better?  With or without excess fat, a body looks healthy and fit with a little more muscle.

Shaping offers a different, yet equally confusing idea. Muscles cannot be shaped; rather, they are pre-determined by your genetics. You can’t physiologically change a muscles shape, only whether it is bigger or smaller.

2.) You should lift heavy.

Certain goals for both men and women are similar. The most common is a firm, toned, sexy look. One of the best ways to get that look, for men or women, is with heavy weight. Lifting heavy weights is the fastest, and most efficient way to build myogenic muscle tone… or the highly dense, toned muscle that you seek.

Photo Credit: List09.com
Photo Credit: List09.com

“But won’t lifting heavier weights make me bigger?” This leads to right to my next point…

3.)No, lifting weights will NOT make you bigger.

Why? Building muscle is very, very, hard. Ask any guy. There is a reason we train year in, year out, eat copious amounts of dead animal flesh, and cherish any small, muscular changes. And that’s with a plethora of hormonal benefits from testosterone helping us out! Unless you have extremely rare genetics you won’t be piling on slabs of muscle and look like Hulk Hogan.

Additionally, there are tons of factors that mitigate muscle growth: Training style (most importantly, muscle tension and training volume), diet, and hormones (as mentioned above.) Unless you are taking external testosterone, training with way too much volume, and consuming a ton of excess calories you won’t be getting bulky.

With that thought, I recommend all women do some sort of heavy training once per week. 
Try squats, deadlifts, bench presses, push presses, and rows for 3-4 sets of 4-6 reps with the heaviest weight you can safely do.

4.) There is no such thing as spot reduction

Men and women deposit fat differently. Men generally carry more body fat centralized around the abdomen whereas women carry more excess fat around the hips and thighs. For both genders, spot reduction is a popular topic. In most cases, body fat is lost evenly throughout the body. Therefore, in order to be leaner in a particular area fat loss needs to occur all over.
I find the best exercises for losing fat all over are done in a standing position, such as sprints and high intensity weighting, rather than a seated position like a stationary bike, or rowing machine.

5.) Women have a different weight distribution than men.

Because women carry more weight in their lower body they are generally relatively weaker in the upper body, but just as relatively strong in the lower body. In most cases it’s best to regress upper body exercises, such as a push up or pull up.  Rather than watching in horror as a female grinds out worm-ups, regressed the exercise by performing it with a barbell racked off the ground. Just because someone can’t do a full exercise…yet… doesn’t mean they shouldn’t perform any variation.

6.) Women have better stamina than men

Women can handle a higher training density– less rest between sets and a higher volume– than their male counterpart. This may be due to an overall decrease in relative strength. This factor allows women to train at a higher frequency with a higher density than men.

*Note: Training density (doing more in less time) is a huge variable for fat loss.   

7.) Women need more protein

I find most of my female clients drastically under-consume protein. Protein does three awesome things for your body: Protein can blunt your appetite to keep you fuller for longer, speed up your metabolism, and help you maintain your muscle (giving you that toned, dense look) while stripping off  unwanted fat. I tell my female clients to have protein with any carbohydrate source and shoot for their body weight in grams of protein. This would mean a 120 lb female consumes roughly 120 grams of protein per day.

Wrap Up

Okay, I’ve got to run, but I gathered a list of great sites and resources for you to check out. These are some of the best fitness sites for females looking to build awesome bodies. Fellas, you can take a look to and stop giving poor advice to women who ask you :).

http://www.soheefit.com

http://bretcontreras.com/strength-training-for-women/

http://www.jensinkler.com

http://www.negharfonooni.com

http://www.girlsgonestrong.com

http://www.cassandraforsythe.com

Let me know any questions you have and how you currently train!

Resources:

“Beautiful Crossfit Woman.” List 09. N.p., n. d. Web. 18 Sep. 2013. <http://www.list09.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/crossfit-girl-Laura-Plumley1.jpg>.

Romaniello, John . “Sexy Female Training.” Roman Fitness Systems. N.p., n. d. Web. 18 Sep. 2013. <http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com/blog/6-tips-for-building-a-sexy-female-body/>.

Schuler , Lou, Cassandra Forsythe, and Alwyn Cosgrove.The New Rules of Lifting For Women . New York City: Penguin Group, 2007. Print.

 

 

How to Estimate Your Percent Body Fat

body fat percentage chart for men and women

Hey! This is one of my first blog posts from the early Bach Performance days. If you’ve found this post, I’m betting you’re looking to get lean and shredded.

With that in mind, I have a free workout for you. Grab it here, and enjoy the post!

Hook me up with the Free Fat Loss Program, Eric!


Whether you have access to body composition measuring tools or not you should have a good idea of your body fat percentage. With that being said below is a post regarding what you can expect to see in the mirror based on several different body fat percentages.
Enjoy!

Body fat measurements are the superior method in determining body composition and weight loss.  Body fat percentages are very self-explanatory; they are simply the percent of fat that your total weight is comprised of. For example, a 200 lb male with 15% bodyfat would have 30 pounds of fat on his body. The remaining 170 pounds would comprise of bone, muscle, organ tissue, water, blood, and everything else.

Consuming fat and having baseline amounts of body fat and is vital to the human body for performing essential bodily functions. Body fat provides insulation and protection for vital organs, produces hormones, aids in digestion, maintains body temperature, and promotes healthy cellular function.

There are many ways which health and fitness professionals use to measure body fat percentages. There are circumference measurements, bio electrical impedance (BIA), skinfold measurements, ultrasound, bodpod, hydrostatic weighing, dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA), X-Ray, and MRI.

As with any test there is variation and error in body fat percentages, with even the best tests still having a percent error ranging from 1-3%. Most of these tests require skilled technicians, consistent testers, algorithms, and environmental variables, and some pocket change in order to perform the tests. As you see lots of variables must be accounted for in order to get an accurate reading of your body composition.

Picking out a professional facility and well-trained technicians is a great option and will give you the most accurate results but this is not always feasible. For that reason, I will provide some descriptions of different body fat percentages and what you can expect to see in the mirror at these body fat percentages.

Want to Simplify your Fitness and start making progress today? Click Here.

Essential body fat is typically 3-5% for men and 10-12% for women. In terms of obesity males reaching 25% body fat and females reaching 32% body fat qualify as obese by most standards.

How to Estimate Your Percent Body Fat

Below are descriptions of various body fats and what you can expect to see in the mirror:

20% Body Fat: No visible muscle definition, poor separation of major muscle groups unless extremely large and developed.

15% Body Fat: Some moderate muscle separation begins to become evident; specifically in the deltoids as they shoulders do not hold much fat. In most cases the abs are not yet visible.

12% Body Fat: The chest, back, and abs all gain some definition. There is an outline of the abdominal muscles and a 2-4 pack may be visible.

10% Body Fat: A 6 pack is visible when flexed. Deeper more pronounced muscle separation in the arms, chest, legs, and back.

7-9% Body Fat: 6 pack abs visible at all times. There is visible separation between quadriceps muscles and back musculature is clear. The serratus anterior (those wicked cool lines on the side of your ribs) should be visible  Arms should be visibly vascular most of the time.

5-7% Body Fat: Competitive male body builders often are in this range. Lower abdominals and legs are both vascular and well-defined. Striations appear in large flexed muscle groups, especially the chest.

body fat percentage chart for men and women
body fat percentage chart for men and women

These descriptions are by no means an end all, as everyone has unique muscular development. These percentages also only take into account subcutaneous fat, the fat that sits directly underneath the skin and not the visceral fat which sits around the organs.

Hydration status also plays a huge role in many tests such as the skin fold because subcutaneous fat holds water. In most cases body fat percentage is underestimated, so swallow your pride and be conservative with your estimations.

Knowing your body fat percentage is a great way to set body composition and FAT loss goals while giving you a tangible picture of what you can expect to see. For best results see a qualified professional and follow pre-testing protocols, but if this is not an option use these descriptions to get a good idea of where you are.

Hook me up with the Free Fat Loss Program, Eric!

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