Q & A: Where my abs at?

I received this question in my email the other day, and thought it would make for an interesting blog post:

THE QUESTION-

Hey Mr Gray-Wanted to shoot you a message, because as of late i’ve been A-trying to get my ass back in shape for a trip to Hawaii so I can find myself a pretty island girl, and B-have casually been observing your blog.What I’ve done to get in shape has been pretty simple…i’ve cut back on the amount of food I eat, and have been trying to eat healthier-I’ve cut out Fast food, and also am not drinking any sort of alcohol until Thanksgiving break comes *when i’ll be in hawaii, and likely drunk most of the time* 

I’ve made sure to eat breakfast, which i havent in the past, but its usually just some toast and maybe fruit. Lunch is usually the ‘big’ meal where i’ll eat some pasta, a peanut butter and honey sandwhich, or chicken and white rice. Dinner, if I eat it-is usually a small sandwhich or some popcorn or fruit.

At the gym, I’m doing a lot of cardio, and some light lifting, and lots of ab workouts. (since…I’m really just tryin to get my sixpack back)

I start off, usually run two miles at a decent pace on the treadmill, then go run an eliptical bike for 15-20 minutes, then go back and run another mile/two miles.

Then i’ll go into a pleathera of various ab workouts-and have started using the ball roll out thing you posted on your blog.

Anyways, just wanted to see if you had any advice on furthering the healthy stuff, and gettin the six pack in full effect.

MY RESPONSE-

First off, you’ve made some good changes that will help you find your abs again, i.e. cutting out fast food and booze as well as decreasing the amount of food your eating.

As far as what changes you can make to what you’re currently doing, let’s look at your diet first.

To be honest, your breakfast sucks.  Toast and maybe some fruit will not cut it.  Breakfast needs to be your biggest meal of the day, and should include some good protein (eggs, cottage cheese, protein powder, greek yogurt, etc.) and some good carbs.  The fruit your eating will suffice for that.

As far as lunch goes, I would cut the pasta.  It provides little protein and is pretty much solely carbs.  Your chicken and rice thing sounds like a good option.  Also, big salads are always a good choice.  Load it up with veggies and some chicken and you’ve got a pretty low calorie meal but tons of nutrients.

You should most definitely be eating dinner.  Again, think lean protein.  If you’re wanting to get really strict about this, I would cut out carbs at dinner.  Get a decent amount of protein (20-30 grams) and some healthy fat (nuts, natural peanut butter, avocado, olives).  Since you’ve only got a few weeks til “Operation Island Girl”, you can really ratchet down some nutritional habits that wouldn’t be fun to sustain over a long period of time.

Now let’s look at your training regimen.  Often times, when trying to lose body fat, people make the mistake of cutting down strength training and increasing their cardio.  This can be totally detrimental to your goal.  Long bouts of steady-state cardio can actually eat away at your muscle tissue, leaving you a bit fatter than before.

You definitely need to be lifting some weight. “Light weight” won’t cut it.  I would start with three full-body sessions a week, making sure to focus on compound movements.  This will help you maintain the muscle you already have as well as burn a whole lot more calories.  One day could look something like this:

Day 1:
A1 Deadlift (4×6)


A2 Feet elevated Push-ups (3xmax)


B1 Reverse Lunges (3×8/side)


B2 Pull Ups (3×6)
C1 Swiss Ball Rollouts (3×10)


C2 Hip flexor stretch (3x30s/side)

(Complete a set of A1, followed by a set of A2, then back to A1 until all “A” sets are finished.  Repeat each set of letters in the same fashion.)

After you do some strength work, then focus on your cardio stuff.  Personally, I would have you do some interval work rather than logging 45 minutes on the treadmill/elliptical.  Try hopping on a bike.  Start with the level and your rpm’s at a pace that is challenging for 30 seconds.  Then drop the level and your rpm’s to a recovery level for 30 seconds.  Repeat these 30 second intervals for 10 minutes.  Than after that, if you want to jog or get your elliptical on, go for it.

When it comes to abs, no amount of “ab work” will make them show.  Having a killer six pack is completely a by-product of being lean.  If you’re not lean enough to have defined abs, you need to get leaner, not do more ab work.  The most important aspect to this is eating a clean diet.

The reality is, you don’t have a great deal of time to make a lot of gains, but you can most definitely make some progress and gain a bit of definition in the ol’ ab department.  Good luck.

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2 thoughts on “Q & A: Where my abs at?

  1. OMGoodness! When your post came across my email all I saw was “Hawaii” and “Where are my abs?” My guilty conscious was pretty much convinced that you found out I just returned from Hawaii and lost my abs (due to some eating not sanctioned by the health commission)! Not to worry I can still sit upright so I must have some muscle left. Good post.

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