Just for fun, I looked at what is on the web for getting six pack abs — and it’s a little scary. The top search for how to get six pack abs is cardio. There are commercials on TV for all kinds of cardio machines and “miracle” products professing success. Dr. Oz himself recommended Garcinia Cambogia and he has been dragged before congress for endorsing this scam. For the 25 years I have been a personal trainer, I have seen hundreds of “six pack ab” solutions. If they do not address diet and metabolism, they are a scam. Even if they do mention diet and metabolism, as our friends at Garcinia Cambogia did, often the net gain in metabolism is negligible. Before 1992, exercise science was very primitive. We told people they had to do 45 minutes or more, 5 days a week to see a change of body composition.
When I was younger I was a swimmer, bicycler, runner and Karate man. My degree is actually in Cardiac Rehab, so I have done a lot of cardio training and the only six pack I’ve ever had is sitting in my beer fridge. I am a foodie and I love my delicious food, wine and beer. Until about three years ago, I would work my cardio 45 minutes a day, 5 days a week and then work in weights 3 days a week. I would work very hard, but my weight stayed mostly the same. The reason being was I would eat 4,000 calories a day. I simply ate back everything I burned.
I would love to tell you that I could exercise the fat off your stomach, but I can only do that if we look at diet as well. By the way, cardio is key for your heart’s health, immunity system, energy system and so much more, so please don’t misconstrue my point — you need cardio. But cardio is not how you get six pack abs. The unarguable truth about how to get six pack abs is this: You have to burn off more than you eat until the fat stores on your belly are reduced enough to show the muscles underneath.
Running, cycling and all other forms of cardio certainly can play a role in achieving the six pack abs, but they all stimulate your appetite, so if you eat those extra calories you will maintain the amount of fat hiding your washboard. Weight training will raise your basal metabolism (think baseline calories per day no activity) and it helps like cardio does , and there are lots of people who would be much heavier if they did not exercise.
The fact is, that eating is easier than burning. A 200 pound man would have to run for 33 miles and not eat 3500 calories extra to burn off one pound of fat. The recommended daily intake for the average man is 2200 to 2600 calories per day, but most men eat much more. Diet needs to be considered to get that six pack, there simply is no way around it.
Counting calories is super fun and exciting. This is as big a lie as cardio getting you abs is. I suggest to my clients who are motivated to lose weight to start with a dietary analysis. I know this sounds expensive and complicated, but We Fit U has a way that is free and easy. We use an app that is monitored by our registered dietitian, Jackie King. If you click on the app link from your phone you can install it and start losing weight. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send a link to our nutritional tracker app which will not only tell you how many calories but also how much nutrition you are getting from the foods you eat.
Don’t worry — this is something you are going to do occasionally and it won’t take long for you to be able to keep track in your head. Most of us eat the same breakfast or lunch so you will know that the soup and turkey sandwich is 500 calories and plan accordingly. The idea behind our nutrition tracker is to teach you what your best choices are and where to make adjustments. Of course, if you need more support we offer very affordable access to our registered dietitian! In order to get what you want, you have to strike a balance between diet, cardio and weights see this blog to better understand how weights and cardio affect your metabolism.