16. Avoid artificial sweetener hype. If you are like the rest of us, you see food products everywhere in flashy boxes that read “Sugar Free” and think…awesome, I can eat this and stay lean. Not so fast my friend!
Many of these foods have tons of calories and are LOADED with artificial ingredients. Most people don’t realize this because artificial sweeteners generally have zero calories, but artificial sweeteners can and will make you fat. How is this possible?
First, these fake sweeteners increase your appetite by sending false signals to the brain that sweet food is on the way. Your brain subsequently becomes confused when sweet food never arrives and so it never gives the signal that you are satisfied.
Plus they give you a constant sugar craving that never goes away…it only gets worse! If you have ever drank sugar free crystal light you know exactly what I mean!
Artificial sweeteners are well…artificial, so the body typically sees this “food” as a foreign invader and treats it as such, thus overwhelming the liver with an intense workload.
The liver is very important here because it filters and removes dangerous or unnecessary substances from the body. The problem occurs when the liver is overwhelmed with toxins like artificial sweeteners and it can no longer process the essential nutrients that your body needs to function at its peak.
One of the main functions of the liver is to process fats. However, an overworked liver can’t properly break down fats so you will have a very tough time losing any weight at all if your liver is tired. If you want to lose fat, you need to keep your liver to functioning at its peak.
I prefer to use stevia sweetener instead of the fake stuff. It’s natural, pure, has no calories, and you’ll get none of the awful side effects of fake sweeteners.
17. Eliminate high-fructose corn syrup. Most carbohydrates cause the pancreas to produce insulin, which acts as a signal to the brain to stop you from feeling hungry. When you eat high fructose corn syrup however, the brain never gets this signal so you are more likely to overeat and gain weight. Also, foods with high fructose corn syrup are typically very low in nutritional value and VERY high in calories. Bottom line: this stuff sucks.
18. Take a multi-vitamin. We usually don’t get all of the vitamins and minerals we need from food so taking a good multi-vitamin is a great way to ensure we get these essential nutrients.
19. Never leave the compound. You will never build a world class physique using a machine or by doing a bunch of isolation exercises all of the time. If you want to be a stud, make compound exercises the foundation of your training program. Here is a list of great compound exercises that you should definitely be using:
Legs: Barbell Squat, Lunges, Deadlifts
Shoulders: Military Press, Hang-Clean and Press
Arms: Dips, Close-Grip Pushups
Back: Deadlifts, Pull-ups
Chest: Bench Press, Push-ups
Once you get more advanced with your training you can incorporate olympic lifts such as cleans and snatches into the mix. These two exercises are very demanding and utilize just about every joint in the body. They can also trigger a huge metabolic response within the body, as well as increase strength and balance.
Just remember, the key to getting rock hard six pack abs is to build your body with multi-joint compound exercises and use a solid nutrition plan to keep your abs tight all year.
20. Don’t be like Forest Gump. I’m sure you have probably heard that the best way to burn fat is to do long duration cardio at a slow to medium pace…
This fat loss method is decent, and it can work very well, but there are better ways to burn fat. One way is to do interval workouts combined with abdominal exercises.
Here is an example:
During the active recovery period of your interval workout, perform an ab exercise. For example, if you are doing interval sprints on a stationary bike or treadmill, run for 30 seconds at your maximum speed. Hop off of the machine and immediately perform a set of 20 stability ball crunches. Get back on the machine and crank it back up again.
Repeat 5-8 times.
You can throw in a variety of different ab exercises during this interval session such as leg raises, ab wheels, reverse crunches, the plank, etc.
When it comes to cardio I prefer to train like an athlete. There is no way I am going to jog extra slow on a treadmill and waste an hour of my life. So just skip the long boring 60 minute cardio sessions on the treadmill and trim that down into 15-20 minutes of high-intensity interval training.
21. Be Like JayZ – Focused Man. In order to burn fat and develop six pack abs you must workout efficiently, so be sure to maintain maximum intensity and focus for the duration of the training session. Don’t take long rest periods to check out all of the hot girls that are walking by, focus on the task at hand!
22. Don’t be Captain Crunch. Like I said above, compound, multi-joint, total body movements will promote more total fat loss and promote a much bigger muscle building response than crunches and sit-ups ever will.
Personally, I think that it is completely pointless to waste an hour of your time doing hundreds of useless crunches and sit-ups when that hour could be spent doing exercises that are more productive for fat loss.
Working as a fitness model, I generally work abs for about 20 minutes two or three times per week. There is just no reason to work abs any more than this…sometimes I’ll even do a short 6-8 minute ab workout!
23. Focus on the lower abs. Just about every abdominal exercise or motion involves an upper abs contraction. For this reason alone, building the upper abs is usually pretty easy, but as a result the lower abs can get neglected. Focus more on training your lower abs exclusively because lower ab training will still give you amazing upper abs as well.
24. Don’t do reps like a madman. Unfortunately, millions of people waste hundreds of thousands of hours in the gym each year doing hundreds of sets of pointless ab exercises. After taking this sort of constant pounding your abs will eventually just stop responding.
Overtraining your abs in this manner can also increase your risk of injury. In order to effectively work your abs and avoid overtraining, keep your reps around 20 or less but add resistance to increase the difficulty level.
25. Avoid side bends. Just like any other muscle, the abs also respond when stimulated with resistance. Unless you want to make your waist wider, avoid side bends at all costs. Skip the dumbbell side bends, weight plate side bends, or any other silly side bend exercise. You do not want to end up with a waist that looks blocky and wide. Who invented those silly exercises anyways…
26. Don’t use twisting movements. Performing twisting movements such as holding a bar across your back and twisting is a good way to injure your back. These types of exercises won’t do you much good and they are more risky than they are effective.
27. Maintain a good tempo. As with any other exercise, ab movements should not be jerky or too fast. A good tempo must be maintained throughout the entire movement. An ideal tempo would be 3-0-1 where the first number refers to the lowering phase of the exercise, the next number is the pause, and the third number is the lift. For example, a crunch done at 3-0-1, you would take 3 seconds to lower yourself, no pause, then one second to crunch upward.
28. Train abs 2-3 times per week max. It can be tempting to train abs everyday but as I said earlier, abs are muscles just like any other. They need time to rest and recover. You can train abs a bit more frequently than you can other muscles but training them more than 2 or 3 times per weekly is just overkill.
29. Go down slowly and maintain strict form. A slow and controlled descent is recommended for ab training. This method will carve deep into your abdominal muscle fibers and help sculpt them.
30. Contract, flex, and squeeze. An often overlooked and underutilized method of enhancing your abdominal training is to flex the muscles while you train them. You can’t just go through the motions, you need to squeeze hard while you perform any ab movement.
31. Train abs with intensity. Give the same level of intensity to your abs that you would your biceps or triceps on a tough day of training. Don’t just throw in a few sets of ab exercises at the end of your workout and call it a day. Abs are a muscle just like any other and must be trained as such.
Let’s make 2011 your best year ever for living large both inside and outside the gym!
P.S. If you have any questions, comments, or feedback please post them in the comments section below. I love to hear from you!