Today, I reveal to you the “secrets” to six-pack abs. In our modern society, there really isn’t too many people who haven’t fantasized about sporting a set of Brad Pitt abs. Movie stars, models, and even the health and fitness industry have done a great job of selling us the idea that a sexy pair of abs is proportionate to the epitome of health. However, I am here to debunk this illusion and share with you the truth behind a truly healthy core. I will also help you can obtain a handsome physique without paying the price of your health.
Getting to the core: A holistic perspective
I will admit, getting a six-pack of abs is no coincidence; it involves a holistic approach that includes functional exercise, an efficient metabolism, healthy digestion, low levels of inflammation and overall stress. Though it is true some are genetically blessed with body-types that make it easier to obtain the visual aesthetic of a six-pack, it is also true that not everyone with a washboard appearance has a healthy core. The paradoxical truth, is you can have a six-pack and look great but be incredibly unhealthy! What many people overlook is the actual function of the core. Our modern life has all of us caught up in the illusion of physical appearances. This creates a problem; working to only achieve the look of abs without regard to the process can look a lot like trying to get money by stealing. If you are focused only on money, you could easily do anything to get it with no regard to a healthy process. Likewise, many people are starving themselves, suppressing their breathe, weakening their immune systems and core function just to have a thin waist and an aesthetically pleasing appearance. What we need to bring our focus back to is a process that is healthy, which results in the desired outcome.
The core is our center, and though it sound crazy it actually provides a purpose other than sex appeal! Here are some of the vital functions the core serves:
- Protection of your central nervous system and internal organs- That’s right folks, your core actually serves as shield for our spinal cord, column and the organs that keep us alive. The washboard look we admire is a gift from Nature that protects our organs from external blows or invasions. This is where I believe our sexual desire comes into play. Instinctively knowing that our abdominal wall shields our life, the visual appearance of a healthy core is a sign of someone who is fit for survival. However, so many treat it purely superficially, showing no real love for their core, with endless spine-damaging ab-workouts and inflammatory foods that damage the organs!
- Support for your internal organs- When exercised correctly, the internal organs are mobilized and massaged. This keeps them from “sticking together”, provides fluid and blood flow to them and is key to maintaining healthy bowel movement. If we treat our core purely as a vanity object we can very well miss out on proper functioning of it, leading to diminished function of our internal organs and our overall health.
- Circulation- Our largest artery and vein lies along the spine and is protected by our core. When we have proper functional movement, pressure changes in our core which stimulates blood circulation and lymphatic movement throughout the body via the inferior vena cava and adominal aorta. If circulation becomes stagnant we become susceptible to disease, parasites, constipation and low energy.
- Proper movement– A lot of us ignore our core during every day movement. We think our legs, arms, hands and feet do all the work and the core is along for the ride. The core is the center for all movement however. Without properly exercising the core, all over movement will be poor and our chances of injury increases.
Now that you have a better idea about how valuable your core health we can begin to build a better, healthier relationship with the way we treat it. I want to share with you the fundamentals for achieving a core the right way. After all, it’d be a shame to get to the top of the ladder only to find out we’ve been leaning up the wrong wall. It would be a waste to spend so much time, energy and money on trying to achieve a six-pack only to deteriorate your health along the way and mask a deeper issue of vanity!
- VISUALIZE, VISUALIZE, VISUALIZE!- This is secret number one for a reason. Some may call it law of attraction; however, it’s a simple truth. What you focus on, is what you will see. When I first had my six-pack fantasy I used simple visualization to start the journey to learning what it would take to do and obtaining it. I was in love with the idea of having this look because of my best friend’s older brother. He had the “coolest body” ever to me. He was a role model and a super hero in my eyes; all-state wrestler, guitar player, and everyone loved him. I of course associated this inner beauty with his outer body. I was young, about 12 years old and didn’t know any better. However, this love FOR a healthy body is what started the journey. Each day I pictured my face on his body, Brad Pitt’s body and anyone who had the abs I wanted. I went to work, doing sit ups, cutting out bad foods, and role-modeling his behaviors. In no time flat, my stomach was flat. The importance of this step is that whatever in life you want to acquire it is fundamental that you do it for what you love and not against what you hate. I didn’t do the work because I was running away from my chubby teen stomach but because I was attracted toward something in my eyes that was healthier. I obviously learned a lot in the process, but this principle has stuck with me and I find it very valuable. So in conclusion, workout for a healthy core, not against your current physique. In other words, workout because you love your body not because you hate it.
To practice, I suggest docorating your laptop background with pictures of your ideal body, photoshop your head if you have to! Also, keep fitness magazines around, make a notebook filled with pictures or make a visualization board and look at these things as often as possible; daily. Now that you hopefully have a healthier reason for your six-pack it will be easier for you to “obsess” over it.
- Digestion & Gut Inflammation- Behind every bloated paunch belly is a beautiful core waiting to be seen. However, consuming foods, drinks, especially alcohol and cheap beer that you are allergic too and that are inflammatory will affect your abdominal function. You may be tempted to “work off” your bad diet to keep your total fat loss percentage low, only to cause metabolic disorders and ignore a deeper issue. Anything that causes inflammation of an internal organ (intestines) is communicated to the nervous system and will cause the muscles in the abdominal wall to weaken and not respond to exercise. This is basically a stress-response from the nervous system saying “there’s something more important going on here, no time to exercise and grow muscle!” Not only will you greatly diminish your core function, appearance of abs will vanish and be replaced with a distended bloated gut. This distended gut will take away from the “cuts” between muscles that creates definition. You can only cheat your health for looks for so long until it catches up to you! To begin healing digestion, check out my blog on healing digestion. Consuming a probiotic-rich liquid can start the process of reincorporated healthy bacteria to restore digestive balance and flatten your stomach.
- Functional Exercise- A lot of the exercises and machines people use to “target” abs are inefficient and only trigger back-pain. This is because most people who want a sexy six-pack first have to address number 2; gut-inflammation and a paunch belly. In many cases, when there is any intestinal inflammation present you can do sit-ups for days and never get your desired look. That’s because the nervous system is more concerned with stabilizing your spine and keeping you alive than your vanity problem. Also, many of the popular exercises and machines used to train your abs, do not train your abs at all. You are not engaging any stabilizer muscles that would need to be strengthen to build a strong core. Instead, you are lying on the floor or sitting in a machine, with the core essentially inactive. While in time, you may be able to build larger muscles, you are only providing false confidence. In the long run, you will suffer from poor stability, possible injury and not to mention overall weakness when it comes to any functional movement. You may be able to move 100lbs on some ab machine but you won’t be able to lift your own legs out in front of you due to weak stabilizer muscles. Your core would build much quicker and more efficiently with functional ISO-metric training such as hanging leg lifts, L-sits, sprinting, jumping, and free weight lifts.
Well there you have it, my personal “six-pack secrets”. These are principles I’ve learned over the past 13 years. I have managed to have a six-pack from the page of about 12 and the journey has taught me a lot. Aside from widely known advice specifically low body fat, I know these three principles are something highly overlooked and not thought about. However, they are fundamental in getting that dream stomach. I can promise that if you apply these principles they do work. By changing your relationship with your body you too can have your ideal figure in the healthiest of ways.
Let me know if you have any of your own six-pack secrets in the comments below!
Love and health,