A friend asked me how I achieved a “six pack”. So I wrote her this post as my reply in an email. If you read carefully you can glean a bit of my philosophy too, it’s not hidden, just obscured by the physics. haha!
(Yoga. Illustration courtesy of Kiran Shahid. http://tribune.com.pk/story/535869/yoga-is-about-the-mind-body-and-soul/ )
All you need is around fifteen to thirty minutes a day and a healthy appetite for pain and discomfort. The theory is to work your muscles all over your body to maximum power. This way you burn loads of energy, but will not feel exhausted an hour later, in fact you might feel sleepy but fairly relaxed and happy.
The Intellectual Beginnings
To feel really good, begin your exercise routine by FIRST doing some thinking work, e.g., write a few paragraphs for a novel, solve a brain-teaser puzzle, or whatever you enjoy for mental exercise. For me, the brain needs exercise as much as the body, and this sort of pre-physical exercise routine makes a wonderfully holistic exercise experience. Of course, if you’ve had a hard day at work then you can count that as your mind exercise if you like.
Also, to feel good about exercise you should know your bodies limits. If the goal is aesthetic that’s fine, you should not feel vain. Looking your best is a spiritual thing provided you do not expect it of others and know that deep down it is becaue you enjoy beauty. It’s really about inner beuaty, wanting to be your best. Having “six pack abs” is only the shallow result of this deeper aesthetic sensibility. Some people exercise only to look like a supermodel, and that is not so healthy for your soul.
Also, there are genetics to consider. In particular, the only thing I can reliably comment upon, are genetic components (1) metabolic differences, and (2) gender differences. These are intrinsic factors you cannot escape. Some people have “slow metabolism” which is scientifically definable, if you have such genes you probably get obese very quickly, and have a huge appetite for food. Your body does not burn food as efficiently as other people. You will struggle to get six-pack abs, and the battle will be more mental than physical. You’d need to battle hard to overcome your biochemical urges for dietary satiation. In other words, you have to exercise a lot more will power to eat only what you need, not what you think you need. It’s tough. One of my brothers has such a metabolism.
The other main comment is for women. Women have an extra layer of fat cells than men. Now fat cells only looks fat when they have plenty of energy stored in them. Women need lots of energy for childbirth, since their metabolism is feeding two people for about nine moths. That’s why women have evolved extra fat cells. But even if a woman exercises like a dude, they will find it hard to look “ripped” even though they might have superior muscle tone to the equivalent man. It’s because even with minimal fat storage their fat cells will still be present. Fat cells cannot be created or destroyed much after adolescence, you are stuck with them, unless you resort to liposuction (not recommended).
So women have extra fat cell layers and this acts like a blanket, hiding their muscle tissue, and giving them smoother looking skin.
My advice to women is not to worry about this. Smooth skin on a woman is beautiful. Ripped prominent muscle tissue close to the skin is not as sexy on women as on men. If your boyfriend likes the ripped muscle look then ditch him, because he is probably verging on sheer vanity and Narcissism, he likes you to look like him! That’s not good for a relationship. And one thing this article is about is philosophy of exercise and beauty. True beauty starts from within. So women, please enjoy and love your smooth beautiful healthy bodies.
The Physical Bits
Eat an orange or watermelon rind (soothes sore muscles, citrulline malate) or tangerines I think have higher levels of citrulline malate, grapes are also good for citrulline. Eat chocolate (muscle power, cocoa) and nuts (protein for muscle building). Drink water (cleanses the body).
Then use very heavy weights. Almost as much as you can lift. Do a variety of exercises lifting weights, e.g., bench press, curls, laterals. Work any muscle groups that you’d like to tone.
Do some “power sit ups” too, these are the hardest sit-ups you can manage, hands behind head, knees up, lift through stomach not legs, legs should be relaxed and not propped against anything. But it doesn’t matter how you do the sit-ups so much, the critical thing is to do them as fast and as tough as possible, make it hurt real bad as quickly as possible.
If you don’t have barbells, then for your legs just do power squats (squat down crouched so you can touch the ground with a straight back, then spring up jumping as high as possible keeping your back straight, repeat fast for about a minute or until you cannot possibly jump one more time). For lateral and bicep strength do pull-ups if you don’t have dumbells. (It only costs a few dollars to attach a pull-up bar to a wall.)
Do this with all exercises: do them so fast and with such heavy loads that you quickly reach your body limit and can do no more. It should really hurt your muscles. This should only take about 30 seconds each exercise, because you should be doing them fast and flat-out. Don’t forget you have to breath and recover for a minute after each exercise.
After doing abut a dozen different exercises you are finished for the day. Maybe, for great results, do once after breakfast and then again after dinner. Each exercise session takes only about 20 minutes.
The Spiritual Completion
The complete health routine is best finished with spiritual exercise. This can be anything you find helpful to feel at peace with the universe. Meditation is good. Reading a good book. Prayer. A walk in the park. Cooking a nice dinner. Helping a friend or neighbour or stranger (e.g., go online and answer one of the un-answered questions on Answers.com or any other well-read forum, or contribute your expertise to Wikipedia).
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