Archive for January, 2011

6 Pack Attack: Tips For Success (1-5)

Friday, January 28th, 2011
  1. Plan Progress
    The 6 Pack Attack is a S.M.A.R.Tgoal. It’s specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed; however, none of that matters unless the goal has been broken down. This means there must be an understanding of where you are now and what steps you will need to take to achieve the overall goal. Where will you be by mid February? And where will you be by mid March? By setting mini goals you will have a good indication of how your progress is going and most likely an increase in focus and motivation.  You wouldn’t jump from the bottom of a stair case to the top – you would take it one small step at a time until you reached the top…
  2. Be Realistic
    Make a commitment that you can stick with. As the saying goes; “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.  This means that you do not have to exercise every single day and diet like a professional bodybuilder that is two weeks away from the Olympia. By implementing one or two new behaviors that correlate to your goal you will be well on your way to passing the 6 Pack Attack. Everyone knows someone that has ‘yo-yoed’ in and out of a fitness regime and there is nothing wrong with being ambitious; however, by making a realistic commitment at the start you will increase consistency. In my experience I have found that as people become consistent with one or two new behaviors they start to see the benefits and begin to add in more goal-matching-behaviors, thus increasing progress.
  3. Don’t Crunch Your Way to a 6 Pack
    In case there is any doubt:  performing abdominal crunches daily does not eliminate abdominal fat. What it does do is strengthen the rectus abdominals and the hip flexors. If you are doing an excess of crunching then you will be encouraging tight hip flexors and a hunchback. Due to the rectus abdominals being shortened the rib cage is pulled downwards…Not an attractive posture. Further, in his book ‘Ultimate Back Fitness & Performance” Stuart McGill reveals that repeated spinal flexion (which is the movement the spine goes through with every crunch) can induce disk hernations. 
  4. Understand What Motivates You
    Sure, Tip 1 will help with motivation but by understanding yourself you will be able to stay driven even on a bad day. No motivation is bad motivation! Ideally everyone would be self motivated (intrinsic motivation). That’s not realistic though. Maybe you’re the kind of person who needs something visual to motivate you, like looking at a picture of someone with a 6 Pack. Maybe you benefit from a gym partner shouting at you on the tough workout sets. Or perhaps watching a rocky montage keeps motivation high for a week…                                 
                              
  5. Add to Your Diet
    Instead of deciding everything you need to give up to achieve your goal, focus on what you need to add. Are you drinking enough water? Are you taking enough protein (I find people eat enough carbs and fats)? Are you eating 5-10 fruit and vegetables a day? After all that it will be pretty hard to eat rubbish. For example, science says a person needs 1.5-2g of protein per pound of body-weight to help build muscle. For me this means scoffing down enough fish, meat and poultry that I hit over 300g of protein a day. If I favor a bad meal or snack over a goodone then I’ll not achieve my daily target. [Note: Carbohydrates and fats are extremely important too; however, in my experience most people have an abundance of carbohydrates and fats and a lack of protein in their diet. Knowing the right amount of macro-nutrient intake is another article for another time.]
6 Pack Attack: FAQ

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

How many times a week should I do the circuit part of the challenge?
Unfortunately I can’t give a straight answer here because it entirely depends on what your training regime is like. There are several ways you could train to improve the circuit aspect of the 6 Pack Attack. First, if you do whole body training sessions, you could use the exercises in the circuit and perform them with multiple sets, just like any other session. Alternatively, you could add in the circuit as a “finisher” at the end of one of your sessions.

Second, you could use the circuit as a “conditioning day” in your weekly training cycle. This will be great for helping with the aesthetics of the challenge. Simply perform the circuit, take a good rest and repeat. It could look something like this:

Week 1: 3 circuits (3mins recovery)
Week 2: 2 circuits (3mins recovery)
Week 3: 4 circuits (3mins recovery)
Week 4: 3 circuits (3mins recovery)

The following month you could manipulate the recovery times. Again, adding a conditioning day will depend on your normal training schedule; however, it is something I intend to do closer to D-Day (I’ll add a “conditioning day” in March and work on getting a good time for a month).

The third way to incorporate the circuit (or get better at it) into your training week is to perform the exercises in your regular sessions. That is what I am currently doing. I have the exercises in my program and throughout a microcyle (which normally means a training week, but is only five days for me at the moment) I will encounter the exercises. For example, my training session today includes front squats with an Olympic grip. Now, I am not performing 60kg front squats into press; however I will be training font squats with the grip I need for the challenge, and so improving my strength with that specific movement will make 60kg feel easy on the day. Similarly, yesterday I had pull ups in my training. This will carry over to the challenge and make things easier.

There you have it. Give one of the above suggestions a try (the way I’m doing it right now is probably your best bet…but I’m bias) and remember that we’ve got a good bit of time to achieve the high standard to pass the challenge.

What if I can do all the exercises, but I need three or four sets for some of it?
That’s absolutely fine. It takes you as long as it takes you. If this is the case then I would recommend following the third suggestion above so that your strength improves for the big day. Remember we’ve got all of February and March.

What is a power up?
A power up is an explosive bodyweight exercise that is a favourite of mine. You can see an example in the video below.

Is the hanging leg raises with straight legs or knees bent?
The hanging leg raise will be performed with straight legs. To build up to this exercise you could perform hanging knee raises, which is the same movement only with a 90° angle at the knee.

6 Pack Attack:The Challenge

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

6 Exercises       +        60 Reps     +      6 Minutes        =        6 Pack

To read about the background of the 6 Pack Attack click here.

The below exercises are to be completed in circuit fashion with bodyweight as resistance unless stated otherwise.  There is no limit to how many breaks can be taken; however, ten repetitions must be completed on an exercise before moving on.  The total time taken has to be less than 7 minutes.

The exercises are:

  1. Pull Up
  2. Hanging Leg Raise
  3. Front Squat into Press (60kg)
  4. Roll Out (40kg)
  5. Power Up
  6. Clap Press Up

There are three reasons I came up with the above as the performance goal for the 6 Pack Attack challenge:

  1. All of the group can perform each exercise with the loadings prescribed before starting the challenge. However, everyone can not complete the exercises in one set and certainly not in circuit fashion. For example, I might need to perform the ten reps of Front Squat into Press over two sets with five reps each. Similarly, Joe might need to take two sets to complete the pull ups. That said; with the time limit each contender will most likely need to complete each exercise for the prescribed reps with only one attempt.
  2.  There will be no sacrifice of muscle. It would be all too easy to run your way to a six pack and neglect everything else. That isn’t something that appeals to me. I need to remain strong and powerful for Judo.  To pass the challenge a person will need to have some basic strength and power (as well as the obvious cardiovascular endurance).
  3. It’s about performance. I’ve never really trained for aesthetics. Instead I have always enjoyed the aesthetic benefits that come with focusing on performance. With the addition of a performance goal the 6 Pack Attack will have an element of objectivity. Beyond that, it will add a gauge on how we, the contenders, have progressed.

As I alluded to, the details of the challenge were thought-out with the specific contenders in mind – to make it tough, but achievable. Of course, I want you to get involved! The above challenge won’t be suitable for everyone and trust me; I have more than enough variations of exercises that I can suggest for your own individual challenge. If that’s the case then let me know.

Summary

  • Complete the timed circuit in less than 7 minutes
  • Have the abs on display
  • All before the end of April

Sounds simple….

6 Pack Attack: The Background

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

Recently I had a chance to reminisce with some friends who I use to play rugby with. In fact, we pretty much learned the game together. As we reflected over the peaks and troughs of our team we began to talk about the different training we once did. Skipping school to sneak in a gym session, doing tyre sprints, performing sit ups daily and many more stupid activities were remembered. Admittedly, we were all fit (had good cardiovascular endurance) and had a six pack; however, I was pretty weak. Sure I could hit level 13 on a bleep test and bang out 11 pull ups and 30 odd dips, but I had a vertical jump of around 20″, I couldn’t squat anything worth talking about and I struggled to press my bodyweight. Needless to say, that is not good for a rugby player and had I known what I know now, I would have certainly halved my efforts and got double the results!  Cutting a tangent short, we decided this year that we will get back to the physique of our past. It sounded really easy to say, so I put forward the point that when we were walking around like Spartans we had genuine internal motivation to achieve something. We were trying to be the best, the fastest, the strongest in every game, every run and every contact situation. Now? Well, now we do not have the goal of playing rugby to pay the bills.  Now we are all in different career paths and have different priorities. The point was this: with a deep internal desire to succeed it was easy to wake up early and train, it was easy not to drink and it was easy to turn down the cakes and ice cream. BUT without that drive everything isn’t so easy.

What Motivates You?
Initially it was proposed that we all go for a six pack and we have until April to do it. The winner is the person that has the best abs. We agreed to put money into a pot and the winner takes all; however, this was too subjective to for me. Who was judging? What if everyone had a 6 pack? Beyond that, all of this is external motivation, the knowledge that a friend will make fun of you for two minutes in April if he is better conditioned than you will certainly not provide the drive a person needs to say no to; booze, bad foods and lazy training.  Knowing that setting a strong internal goal related to the ‘get a 6 pack for April’ challenge would dramatically increase my motivation; I came up with a performance goal. Enter the 6 Pack Attack challenge. For details on that click here.

The Contenders

Andy ‘the coach’

Since leaving rugby the coach has always struggled with his weight. Having knee and ankle surgeries has not helped his path to a six pack. Couple that with 50-60hours a week spent working in front of a computer, solving IT issues and it’s no wonder that (like most people) he finds it difficult to keep unwanted weight off. That said; the coach is full of wisdom and has got into a fantastic fat busting routine.

Joe  

Joe is someone who used to train like a man possessed. Like a lot of rugby players, he had a recurrence injury that slowed him down and ultimately caused him a lot of pain even when he was given the thumbs up by the physiotherapists. Recently he has taken a few months of doing any type of training and is no ready get back into it.

 

       Ally

Ally has never been afraid of a challenge. Having been a 100m Scottish champion in his youth he is reaping with explosive fibres and his body seems to make adaptations quicker than the rest of us. That said; he will need to work hard on his strength endurance to complete the circuit element of the 6 Pack Attack.

By browsing this site you’ll find out more about me and my training than I can sum up in a paragraph. Admittedly I may have the least amount of weight to shift for the challenge; however, being 191cm in height means that I can end up looking like a bit of a bean pole when I have a 6 pack. For me the challenge will be to shift the weight at the waistline and keep it everywhere else.

Each contender has their own issues and different priorities, not to mention injury history (between the four of us we have had seven surgeries) and so everyone will be organising their training and methods around previous injuries and lifestyle.

Stay tuned for updates along the way, and don’t be affraid to get involved.

May the best man win…