Abgnostics: the secret secrets of ab secrets

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This is for those in pursuit of a solid mid section, wondering what secret knowledge lies hidden behind the ab ads floating all over the place. Or maybe you've considered the numerous benefits of physical training and figure that while you're at it, you may as well do something for your core.

Maybe you could care less, and that's perfectly fine too, so long as you're active and healthy. But I still do receive a lot of questions and see much misinformation pertaining to ab secrets. I've had a fun time doing this before, trying to explain that Abs Are Not The Core, but here's the lean (not skinny) on what all the secrets are trying (or should be trying) to tell you.

                                                     Kung Fu Panda opens the secret scroll.
                                                         "It's you. The secret is you."


It's that simple. You can run, bike, swim, zoomba, scoot, crab walk, shuffleboard, rake, chase puppies, throw children, and so on. You can even do some crunches and leg raises if you like. Whatever you do to huff and puff and burn calories is fine as long as you also do some total body resistance exercise.

You could save a lot of time by simply challenging yourself with progressive resistance training. That would mean fairly high reps and fairly heavy resistance (relative for you) in variations of the big movements like squats and lunges, presses, push-ups and dips, pull-ups and rowing. A few sets of 10 on the seated leg extensions, bicep curls and the shake weight are not going to cut it - your abs. Neither will 1-rep max bench press or 1-rep power cleans.

It's muscle that sticks out - in a good way - in your midsection and other sections. It's the loaded resistance exercises that cause all your trunk muscles to work hard in a functional manner. You don't get that from just running, or swimming, or zoomba, or crab walk, or so on. Plus, muscle is functional, like totally good for doing things, athletics and otherwise; bigger and better, safer and more awesome. But oh, all those injury prevention and functional benefits are mere side effects of being ripped.

Please don't worry about 7 minute abs, 4 minute abs, or any other minute abs. Sure, you should try to include a few "core exercise" variations after or as part of your real training. And yes, Hershel Walker and so-and-so do 15,000 sit-ups each and every night. How dumb! Doing that much of anything does risk developing imbalance and later injury. Far more than that, it's a completely unnecessary waste of time.

On the other hand, gradually, systematically getting to the point where you can dead lift double your body weight for 6 reps and make it look easy...again, the resistance used is relative, but THAT'S what I'm talking about:

                                            Ben C pulling 335 for 6 reps. No wraps or belts. Only
                                            The Hawthorne Effect to prop him up.


This side of the issue is complex because so many factors enter in to what and why we eat. The specifics probably vary and are highly dependent upon your starting point; whether you're already relatively thin or 15 or 100 pounds overweight. Here are a few things to consider no matter where you stand.

No amount of training will make up for a crappy diet. The perfect diet cannot do for your body and mind what intelligent training can.

If you feel like you don't have time to be at the gym 6 days per week and prepare and tolerate broccoli and chicken every day, good because you don't have to. You do not have to eat like a typical bodybuilder. On the other hand, you cannot eat like a "typical" American.

Start with this: give up fried foods, limit sweets to about once per week, and attempt to limit (but don't overly restrict) healthy carbs. Try to find a weekly cycle of a few meals/foods that work well for you and just stick to it, no questions. You WANT to be bored with your food most of the time, but NOT hungry. Nobody said it would always be fun.

These secrets are all general, but I'd be happy to try and address any specific questions or concerns. Just please don't ask about breakthrough supplements or ab machines unless you've tried at least 3 to 6 months of consistent total body resistance training along with boring, non extreme dieting with moderate amounts of mostly non-processed foods ; ) .

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