I’ve been hitting the gym for a good 6 years now and there is one thing I can say with surety i.e. the hardest result to get from working out for the majority of the people is core definition or in lay mans’ term ‘abs’. I have maintained a fit physique for almost the entirety of the last 6 years baring a few blue patches here and there. However, I got a proper core definition only a couple of months ago.
It was partially because I was preparing for the university physique competition, Mr.lums and partially because I wanted to test the limits of my body and test I did. Monetary and time costs aside , the physical toll was exacerbating. It was almost as hard as some of the hardest commando courses on earth and definitely more challenging physically then a soldiers boot camp. From balancing a rigorous 20 credit course load to meal preps to perfecting the sleep cycle to an extremely strict diet plan to of course the gruesome low Carb-high intensity gym sessions, it was exigent to say the least.
I have always been a proponent of the following theory but these couple of months reinforced my firm belief in it. The theory is that body shaming and fat shaming is totally deserved except in a few rare cases. You weren’t born fat, even if you have a genetic predisposition for fat accumulation , you still have the same 24 hours that Steve Cook or Anlella Sagra have and burning that fat by taking out 1 hour or managing your diet consistently shouldn’t be a problem. Even if it is a problem, embrace it. Sipping on Cream filled frapuccinos and eating Nutella rich naans won’t cut it. Fine to everyone his own choice but then don’t cry about that why the less prettier but fitter guy or girl is gettin it. It’s because he or she wasn’t lounging around in cafes or eateries but sweating it out in the gym and eating a salad and spice less chicken breast piece while you were getting your death by Chocolate fix at Butlers or CTC.
Lets see another common excuse/way out that the less fit people have, a lot of guys come to me with the argument that they don’t want to buy supplements because they have a concern about its side effects. The few people whose genuine concern is these side effects are naive to say the least. Majority of the others don’t want to buy them because they can’t afford it. Right, but these are the same kids who are daily visitors of Mickey D’s and Hardees. If they cut out their eating out for a month, they would definitely be able to afford their stack of supplements and trust me Supplements (Whey, Pre Workouts, Creatine, Amino’s, etc) are a total game changer when it comes to body building.
The only fast food I used to have in months leading upto Mr.lums was brown bread (Roasted, smoked chicken or tuna ) sandwiches from either Subway or Jalal sons (sometimes due to its proximity). I am not saying that the only healthy food is that cooked at home with your own wish. There are healthier choices out there (Like grilled fish and some steak options) but the healthiest will obviously be the home cooked, salt less, sugar less, oil free food.
I am going to be straight up with you because I am not here to make money or sell a fitness program or some diet plan or product to you. The fatter you are , the uglier. Fat can never be beautiful unless if you are a toddler. Secondly, getting fit and staying fit is a long, arduous process. There are risks of injuries & your hands may get dirty with the calluses; your backbone discs may get dislocated, you will definitely have muscle tears. Lastly, there may be blood and definitely a lot of sweat. It may seem like a never ending journey and there may be days when you just want to give up and not workout but trust me when you start seeing the results , it becomes an addiction.
There is basically one golden rule to getting six packs and that is ‘cut out the damn carbs one way or the other’. It’s not to say totally cut them out because in the long run that can lead to memory loss, hair fall, tooth decay , etc. But what I am saying is gradually minimize them. You want to get those abs you will have to go on a 24 hour struggle. You will have to discipline your diet, get at least 8 hours of sleep and sweat it out in the gym. If it was easy everyone would have been walking around shirtless but that we know is not the case. I really feel bad for those people who are afraid to take off their shirts even when they go to swimming pools. It’s a pity that a person is ashamed of their very body. That body is who you actually are and imagine being ashamed of just your ownself. I sometimes wonder how guys with beer guts hanging or girls with a high fat % even get the confidence to go through each day. More pitiful are those who don’t do anything about it. You want to get fit you will have to go and get it. Nobody was born with a perfect physique. They are sculpted just like a piece of art. From getting taut to bringing out cuts; Even if you are just looking to pack raw muscle or planning to cut a few pounds, everything needs to be worked for, meticulously moulded.
Fitness and bodybuilding are not trends , they are life choices. It doesn’t matter whatever your age, gender , lifestyle or starting point , you can always make the choice of getting fit. If you are blind, without a limb or have some other disability it’s not your fault but if you are fat or on the other extreme skinnier than a trees branch then it’s your fault. If you are fat you can’t wear any cloth you want with the fear of looking fat, you can’t strike any pose in a photograph , again because of the fear of looking fit, and you definitely can’t take off your shirt in front of people. Same goes for skinny people with almost everyone around them asking “don’t you eat anything?” Yes they do but they don’t know how to channel that eating or properly hit the weights. I have seen some of my competitors go from muscular to skinny in a matter of days after Mr.lums but I guess that’s none of my concern.
The fitness models are not from another planet. Recently, Zac Efron went from teenage girls’ favorite to single moms’ heartthrob in a matter of months. Hugh Jackman as the wolverine became a household name partly because of his role and partly because of the chiselled body that he rocked. Dwayne the rock Johnson has gone from huge to massive to undescribable. In bollywood, Ranveeer Singh has taken the audience by storm due to his six pack abs. We already saw this effect with Amir Khan in Ghajini. What all of them had in common was following a carb restricted, calorie monitored extremely strict diet and that solely is the biggest secret to what will get you that abdominal definition. Otherwise if you want to remain undisciplined then I guess it is fine me or anyone else fat shaming you.
Let’s get down to the business end of the article and let me tell you why this Ramadan is the best opportunity for you to get in shape. Let’s admit it is extremely hot out there and on the other hand it’s a pretty long fast we muslims have to endure given you are fasting. These two seemingly daunting unfavorablities can be moulded to your advantage. 16 hours without food will burn your calories reserves faster than you down that first glass of liquid after iftar only if you keep yourself active DURING the fast itself too. The best strategy would be to go half an hour before iftar to the gym, do some light training, have iftar with black coffee, pre workout and a couple of bananas and resume a regular workout for another hour. That would totally kill the fat reserves because of the calorie deficit created. But let’s admit it , we dont like this strategy at all, partially because we don’t have the energy at that time and partially because we want to do our iftars in a relaxed setting with friends or family around. So I give you the second strategy. That is to have your iftar ( but totally avoid the fried stuff like pakoras, Samosas,rolls and high sugary foods like gulab jaman, jalebi, etc) and instead go for a low fat milk shake with no sugar added preferably of mangoes. For solids add a couple of dates, any kind of grilled or olive oil cooked meat with a healthy serving of fruits like melons, plums, watermelons, apples , etc. This should help you fill up. And also remember to drink lots and lots of water and eat your veggies. On a side note water melons have a high satiety level so if you have a handful of them with a couple of glasses of water (no high calorie liquid like Rooh Afza or Iced tea) than you wont feel the need to have anything much. Even if you do feel the urge, try continuing with the fruits preferably or if they are not there some milk based dish or drink but NOT the sugary or fried stuff.
Keep your fibres maxmimized (I prefer Weetabix and oatmeal for sehri to fill up my fibre requirement), drink as much black coffee and green tea (made with herbs) as you can and eat a lot of protein particularly after a grueling session in the gym. I use egg whites and protein shakes for this part. For beginners ON Gold Standard is a great protein shake option. If that doesnt suit you than Nitro Tech of MuscleTech should be another option (Do not try Nitrotech if your blood group is negative). For Pros and those looking to get shredded, I would recommend Dymatize Nutritions Iso 100 or for extreme cutting I used Scietic Nutritions’ ISOGREAT. For Pre workouts NO-Xplode by BSN remains the standout for me. However, if you are in colder weathers than C4 is the better option. Pump HD by BPI is another great option. Grenades’ preworkout sucks and overpriced, dont try it. On the other hand F2 preworkout is a lighter option that I would recommend beginners to start with. Aminos and Creatine are also a must in ones supplement stack. Fish oil and multivitamin should also be supplemented. Use olive oil if you need to fry anything.
Complex Carbs like baked potato, baked rice, green leafy vegetables and fruits should be used as energy source during any time of the day when your metabolism is not that high. The only time that you should consume simple sugar carbs is In the 1 hour window prior to workout to 1 hour post workout. That is because the high metabolism you have during this time will burn off that high amount of energy released by the simple sugars. Have a cheat meal once a week to fulfill your desire but do not splurge in it and keep it at a moderation otherwise the efforts of the rest of the week will go in vain.
I would just like to conclusively say that if you monitor your diet well and do not fall into the scams that are these fitness and diet plans going around you can get those abs NATURALLY. Instead I can make you a free diet and workout plan and if you ever catch me around in the gym we can even do a workout session together. Just make sure you hit the gym daily and hit it hard. In the end I would like to leave you with a Muhammad Ali quote to kick-start your fitness journey or help it wherever it is:
” Don’t count the days , make the days count”
P.S : There were a lot of tips and insights I had to share but this article was getting too long.