Must be the middle of July since everyone wants to know about six-packs; read on for some great answers from our fitness experts on how to really keep in strong shape for the summer and how to make sure you’re using the best equipment to do it!
Here’s the short list of questions based on topic:
|Question: Hi Marc, I’ve been working out for a couple of years and on the whole happy with my progress. I’m currently 6ft, 86kg with a body fat percentage of 9-10%. I’m following your advice of losing the fat before putting on any more muscle because I want to look more ripped.While my stomach is flat and defined its not as ripped as I’d like it to be – I’ve been doing a lot of cardio and stomach exercises while I’ve been cutting down. Is there anything else I can focus on (like specific stomach exercises or cardio) or will I not get ‘ripped abs’ until I’ve cut to around 7% body fat? And if so should I aim to drop to 82-83kg and then go back to adding muscle? – JMC|
Answer: @JMC – your question is a common one for guys who are around 9-10% body fat. In short, men (and women) have different body fat distributions so some guys have a six pack at 12% body fat, while others have trouble seeing a six pack at a lower body fat level. It depends on where you carry your fat. If you carry the fat on your stomach, then you may have to get even leaner to see your abs. In terms of getting the last bit of fat off, I would recommend intense interval training and NOT traditional cardio, which could have the opposite effect. Additionally, as I’ve mentioned in my How to Get Ripped article, you may have to add precision to your nutrition regimen and also tweak your carb intake judiciously. The leaner you get, the harder it is to lose fat of course. Finally, I would consider doing supersets of abs, so choosing two exercises, doing them back to back, to really get a serious abs burn. I also wouldn’t go above 15 reps. Going under 15 reps and adding resistance when necessary can help your abs “pop”. One more thing, you can check question #4 in this Q&A about How Lean is Too Lean?
– Marc (Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT)
|Question: Sir, I want to know can push ups help to develop the chest? – Navkiran|
Answer: @Navrikian singh – Yes, push ups can definitely help develop the chest. In fact, some top athletes like Herschel Walker (a former NFL player and heisman trophy winner) used to do upwards of 2000 push ups a day and had massive chest muscles (See this article with more info about Herschel Walker – Inspirational Fitness Photos Of Men over 40, 50, and 60!). There was also research out recently which points to the fact that heavy weights are not necessary to build bigger muscles – Build Muscle Without Heavy Weights?. If you are able to add more volume over time by doing more push ups and harder variations (See 10 Push Up Variations), and you eat more calories than you burn with ample protein, you should over time be able to add muscle mass to your chest just by doing push ups.
– Marc (Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT)
|Question: What about people with flat feet that over-pronate? If I don’t wear a running shoe with a lot of support, I develop some painful issues in my feet and knees. – Greg|
Answer: I came across this question a couple of times doing research for the article [See: Top 7 Minimalist Shoes]. There are a number of people with your same issue, but a lot have found that the barefoot or minimalist running actually helps because it strengthens your feet so much. Some people have even claimed to go from having flat feet to having strong arches after running this way for a while.I’m not an expert in foot mechanics or anatomy, though, so if you’re going to jump into it, make sure you do your research and start slow.
This is a helpful follow up answer by BuiltLean reader Jeff:
I too have extremely flat feet. I used to run in supportive shoes – mostly Asics – and would continuously be plagued by chronic foot, knee, leg and back issues. About to give up, I decided to give the “less is more” approach a chance. I stared using Nike Free Trainers during my lifting and sprint workouts. I was amazed at the results. I decided to give running a try with a minimal shoe. I broke in lightly and purchased the Adidas Climacool Rides. Being a big guy (6’4? 230lbs) I tend to not even feel the cushioning that most so-called cushion shoes offer, so I really was skeptical, but I was desperate. I could not be happier that I have made the switch.
I regularly run on a trail that is covered in gravel and rocks. I am a natural forefoot striker, so the transition was made a bit easier for me, but I do fully believe that these shoes have tremendously strengthened my feet – especially my arches – and have completely eliminated that typical nagging injuries I used to face. My next pair will be even less supportive and cushioned. I am a true believer in the “less is more” when it comes to running/workout shoes.”
– Nate (Nate Morrow)
|Question: I lost about 40 pounds 5 years ago and have pretty much kept it off, but I am starting to notice my the scale number creeping up the last few months. I used to weight around 118-120, but now I can’t get under 125 lbs and it seems to all be going to the belly. I run 2-3 times a week and do interval training using the Insanity DVD set workouts.1-2 times a week. Could this be because my metabolism is slowing down due to menopause? I will be 50 in July and wonder if I need to cut my calories, beef up my workout or both? – Becky|
Answer: @Becky – This is hard to answer as there are a couple of different reasons why this may be happening. Here are some of my thoughts:A – As you age, your metabolism will definitely slow down, due to both a decrease in overall fat-burning hormones, but also a loss in muscle mass. Also, you didn’t mention whether or not you do any strength training workouts. I don’t consider the Insanity DVD’s strength training workouts, because at best they’re meant to be metabolic in nature and not a building up of strength. Strength training workouts are best at keeping your muscle, which has a direct impact on your metabolism and fat-burning hormones, especially as you age.
B – Menopause will cause a decrease in estrogen/progesterone levels which can do a number of things and can be a article (if not a book) in its own right.
C – Belly fat is generally due to an increase in visceral fat which is increased due to high cortisol levels (chronic stress, which can include constantly challenging workouts can increase cortisol levels).
D – If I were you, I would start with adding dedicated strength training workouts (the BuiltLean Program can be a great option for you) while increasing the quality of calories you consume – more veggies, healthy protein sources, etc.
Hope that helps.
– John (John Levya, CSCS, CPT)
|Question: I want to get a 6 pack so what is the most effective exercise to achieve this? – Shane|
Answer: Hi Shane,I wish there was a most effective six-pack abs exercise for getting a six pack! The most effective way to get a six pack is to lose a lot of fat without losing muscle, which is primarily a nutritional challenge. Abs are made in the kitchen as they say.
The abs complex is comprised of several different muscles (internal/external obliques, rectus abdominus, and transverse abdominus) that work together in different ways. Ideally, you would use a handful of different core exercises to adequately engage the entire abs complex which wraps around your midsection.
In addition, the best abs exercise for you depends on your fitness level. For example, I love doing leg raises where I hang from a bar and while keeping my legs completely straight bring them all the way up to the bar where my hands are. It’s killer, but not sure if that would work for you. The idea is to find an exercise that perfectly matches your fitness level and you are not able to complete more than 10-15 reps.
– Marc (Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT)