Friday, August 22, 2008

What is a Good Body Fat Percentage for Six-Pack Abs?

People have been asking me how low their body fat needs to get to show a 6 pack. It turns out that the numbers vary from person-to-person and between males and females. Your best bet is to check out this article, What is a Good Body Fat Percentage for 6 Pack Abs? to get the details.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

6 Pack Quest Secret: Cheating is Good

Completing Your 6 Pack Quest is going to be hard. You know its going to take a lot of discipline and hard work to get your body fat down low enough for those abdominals to show. So this may come as a shock to you, but cheating is good. At least, cheating is good when you do it right.

When you're trying to get your body fat down, you need to exercise hard, but you also need to control the amount of food you eat. To get really lean, you will have to consume fewer calories than you need to maintain your current weight. This is where things get tricky.

One of the reasons that diets don't work well is because your body adapts. When you consistently cut back on the number of calories you consume, your body takes this as a sign that there isn't enough food. In short, it acts as if you are in danger of starving.

When your body is in starvation mode, it behaves differently. It starts storing every calorie it can as fat, since it things there isn't enough to go around. Your metabolism slows, leaving you with less energy. It puts less effort into repairing your joints and muscles, since the top priority is to survive until there's more food. If necessary, it starts consuming your muscles as fuel while preserving the fat for an even more dire emergency.

The results are ugly. You end up listless, with little energy to exercise. Everything you eat seems to instantly turn into belly fat. Your muscles start to wither away. Not the best conditions for following the guidelines in Your 6 Pack Quest. Not good for working out really hard and building a lean, high energy body with six-pack abs. This is where cheating comes in.

Your body doesn't jump from its normal mode into starvation mode if you skip dinner one day. It needs to experience a significant shortage of calories for a number of days in a row before it switches over. If you don't experience that significant shortage of calories for that number of days, your body won't make the switch to starvation mode. You'll get the benefits of reduced calories, without the unpleasant side effects of starvation mode.

So, to get the best results from your strict abs diet, you need to cheat once in a while. Every so often, you need to eat significantly more than you otherwise would, to keep your body from going into starvation mode. And it gets even better. If you eat your favorite junk food on these cheating days, it becomes that much easier to stay on your diet the other days. After all, there's a big difference between giving up pizza (or whatever) altogether, and only eating it on your cheating days.

The easiest way to do this is to just pig out once a week. But this approach isn't necessarily the most efficient way to go. If you want to get the best fat loss results possible, while still avoiding starvation mode, you should get expert advice on how long to go between cheating days, based on your body type and so on. Still, the basic concept is simple. It's a pleasant surprise when something fun like chowing down turns out to be a good thing.

In Your 6 Pack Quest, Vince tells you how to decide the frequency of your cheating days, along with all the other tips & secrets he shares. To read my review, click here please.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

6 Pack Quest Secret: Other People Matter

You might think that Your 6 Pack Quest is all up to you. Your drive & motivation. Your pride & determination. Sorry, but there's more to it than that. Other people matter too. Don't believe me? Keep reading.

The people we spend time with matter a lot. You may have heard this proverb, "Tell me your friends and I'll tell you who you are." Or this quote by motivational speaker Jim Rohn, "You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with." Or your parents may have told you they didn't want you hanging around with "that kind" of kid. There's a good reason for all this.

The people we spend the most time with affect us. Human beings naturally and unconsciously change our behavior to better match that of the people we hang around with. When your parents said they didn't want you hanging around with "that kind" of kid, they weren't just worried about you getting into trouble in the present. They were afraid that some of that kid's attitudes & behaviors would rub off on you over time. And they were right.

Face it. If you spent all your time hanging out with druggies who beat up little old ladies and knocked over convenience stores for fun, how likely is it that you would have turned out to be a model citizen? This isn't to say that people who get a bad start in life, or those who take a wrong turn along the way can't become great people in the end. But it is meant to illustrate that the people you spend time with affect you.

What does this have to do with Your 6 Pack Quest? A lot. Just as the people you hung around with as a kid affected what you did when you were growing up, the people you hang around with now affect you. And that includes your fitness program. Do you spend your time around obese, lazy people who think a healthy meal means having milk with their jelly donut and a workout is getting up from the couch to change the channel on the TV? Do you live with someone who sees overeating as a sign of love and believes no meal is complete until everyone is too stuffed to move? Do your friends think people with muscles are stupid, self-centered jerks? Would they rather suck down a beer and watch sports on TV than break a sweat of their own?

If any of these sounds like the people you hang out with, how likely is it that you'll be motivated to keep going when things get tough? How likely is it that you'll develop a fitness model's body when you hang out with people like these? If you somehow achieve your goals, how likely is it that you will be able to maintain them for long around people like these?

It's a painful but true secret of Your 6 Pack Quest: If you really want to succeed in your quest, you must surround yourself with the kind of people who will support you in that quest and avoid those who won't.

Monday, July 21, 2008

6 Pack Quest Secret: Dieting Isn't Enough

Is it possible to complete Your 6 Pack Quest simply by dieting? A study titled, Weight Loss With a Low-Carbohydrate, Mediterranean, or Low-Fat Diet, published in the July 17, 2008 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, reported on the two-year effectiveness of these three types of diet for overweight people. It showed somewhat better results for low-carbohydrate diets, without the health risks that opponents of these diets claimed would exist.

So that's cool. Just go on a low-carb diet for a while and you'll soon have the body you want, right? Not exactly. Here's why dieting alone isn't enough to get the body you want.

First, dieting doesn't do anything to preserve your muscle mass. As you may know, once people reach thirty or so years of age, we tend to lose muscle mass. People typically lose 5-10 pounds of muscle per decade. And dieting doesn't change that. It might reduce the amount of fat over your shrinking muscles, but it won't maintain those muscles, much less build more muscle mass.

Now this latest study didn't specifically look at muscle mass (a search of the original report didn't even turn up a mention of muscle) so it's possible that one type of diet could have more of an effect on muscle mass than another. But going by the results of this study, there's no reason to believe that any type of diet will do anything special to prevent the gradual muscle loss that comes with age. It's going to be hard to build an awesome body when your youthful, sexy muscles are slowing fading away.

Second, the results of the diets are sad. The participants were overweight men and women, or people with Type 2 diabetes. They were placed on one of three types of diet, and given instructions and materials specific to the diet they were to follow. Over the course of two years, each group of people had eighteen 90-minute meetings with a dietician to help them stay on track. People who were having particular trouble received motivational phone calls as well.

The results of all this? Among the people who stayed in the program for two years, the average weight loss for the low-fat diet was 3.3 kg (7.27 lb), for the Mediterranean diet was 4.6 kg (10.14 lb), and for the low-carb diet was 5.5 kg (12.13 lb). There were also some positive changes in markers of health such as cholesterol levels.

This looks good, but think about it. The best performing group, with help from a nutritionist, lost just over 12 pounds in 2 years. One type of diet may be better than another, and for overweight people to lose weight safely is great. But is losing 12 pounds over 2 years, with a dietician's help and without any consideration for preserving your muscles, really going to get you the body you want?

A healthy diet is surely a good thing, and important to developing your abs and building the body you want. But as this study shows, dieting alone won't get you there. The secret to a super body and a great six pack is a plan that combines diet and exercise. Vince DelMonte has the plan you need. Read my Your 6 Pack Quest Review to see why.

Friday, July 18, 2008

6 Pack Quest Secret: Progress, Not Perfection

When undertaking anything as hard as your 6 pack quest, progress, not perfection, must be your goal.

How often has this happened to you: You start a new fitness program with high hopes & lots of enthusiasm. You do everything perfectly at first. Then one day you miss a workout, or gorge on your favorite junk food. Then you give up because you're not perfect anymore.

It's a natural response that many of us have. And giving in to it guarantees that you'll never get anywhere. Most workout guides are full of tables and schedules and plans for what exercises you will do, how much cardio, what you'll eat. Some go further to touch on topics like how much you sleep and how much stress you have in your life. All of this is important. Paying attention to all of it is crucial if you're going to build your muscle and cut your body fat enough to succeed in your quest for 6 pack abs.

But none of the advice in these guides is set in stone. They aren't books of laws that are enforced by the police. They're not commandments from on high that must be obeyed or else. They're workout guides. That's all. Missing a workout or not getting enough sleep one night isn't a sin or a crime. It's the way things work in the real world.

Although we've never met, I know a lot about you. You have responsibilities. You have stress in your life. You get sick. You hurt yourself. Sometimes you even forget things. You're a fallible human being living in a complicated and messy world.

Of course you would get better, faster results in your 6 pack quest if you followed the advice in a good workout guide perfectly. But its not going to happen. Even the top professional fitness models and body builders occasionally mess up. They miss workouts and eat junk food sometimes too. They don't get enough sleep or get stressed by a family crisis. Perfection and people don't go together. In the real world, you can't be perfect at anything hard for long.

Striving for perfection is great. Demanding perfection of yourself is unreasonable. The real secret to success in building a six pack (or anything else worth doing) is accepting that perfection is impossible and not giving up when you mess up.

So if perfection is impossible, what should you strive for? I say progress. While you can't follow the guidelines of any workout program perfectly, you can always strive to make progress toward your goal. You can always aim to be better at making your workouts than before. You can always aim to eat better than before. You can always focus on making progress toward your 6 pack, rather than focusing on 100% compliance with your fitness guide.

Some of the more practical experts even incorporate this idea into their programs. Instead of demanding that you follow their advice exactly, they design their plans assuming that you will sometimes go off plan. With a plan like this, you can still succeed even if you aren't perfect.

Finding and following a plan that will work in the real world, instead of demanding perfection, is a real secret to success in Your 6 Pack Quest.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

6 Pack Quest Secret: Heart Over Head

Have you tried to build the body of your dreams before, only to fail for no apparent reason? Did you have lots of logical reasons in mind for why you should stick with it, but give up anyway? Don't feel bad. There's a good reason for what happened. You tried to follow your head over your heart when you should have done exactly the opposite. Understanding what happened will help you in Your 6 Pack Quest.

And what does that all mean? Your brain has two parts (I know its a lot more complex than that, but bear with me): a relatively recent part that thinks logically (call it the head), and a larger, much more ancient part that deals in emotions (call it the heart). The ancients thought that emotions resided in our physical hearts. Now we know that they actually reside in this ancient part of our brains. We like to think that the logical part is the part that's in control, but most of the time, the older, emotionally-driven part of the brain is in charge.

Knowing this, it's easy to see why having good, logical reasons to bust your butt and get fit don't work. The logical part of your brain has some control over the emotional side, but that control is limited and easily fails. The emotional side of your brain usually gets its way in the end. Imagine this battle going on inside your skull:

Head: We need to exercise now. Getting fit will reduce our blood pressure and improve our cardiovascular health.

Heart: My girlfriend just dumped me, and my favorite show is on. We'll exercise some other time.

Head: But we need to work out. It's the logical thing to do.

Heart: Look! A cupcake! You go work out. I'm gonna chow down.

Imagine which part of your brain is going to win that argument. This shows how futile it is to try to do something hard like completing Your 6 Pack Quest when driven by logical reasoning (your head). Your head can force things for a while, but if your heart isn't into it, you will fail eventually.

Fortunately, the root of the problem is also the solution. If your heart always wins over your head in the end, logical reasoning won't get you the abs you want. However, if you can get your heart behind your goal, there's no stopping you. Give yourself strong enough emotional reasons to transform your body, and you'll get there.

The trick is finding the emotional reason for transforming your body that lies behind the logical ones. Reducing your blood pressure and improving your cardiovascular health are good logical reasons to work out. But why do you want to do those things? What is your heart saying? Do you want to do them because your doctor says it would be good for you or because you have a family history of heart disease and you don't want to die. Do you want to lose your beer belly because excess abdominal fat increase your risk of illness or because you want to impress the cute new girl at the office?

It doesn't matter if one reason is logical and practical and the other is trivial or vain or shallow or irrational. What matters is that impressing the girl or saving your own life trigger your emotions. That's your heart talking rather than your head. Focus on what your heart wants. Concentrate on the emotional reasons to lose weight and get buff. Those are the ones that'll motivate you to walk past the cupcake, turn off the TV, and get your butt in gear. If you have good logical reasons to do it as well, that's great. They can only help. But the key is getting your heart into it. Motivating your heart over your head is the real secret to success in Your 6 Pack Quest or anything else worth doing.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

6 Pack Quest Secret: Lose Weight Or Burn Fat

A lot of people don't seem to grasp the difference between losing weight and burning fat. Those who want to lose weight aim to see a certain number on the scale. If you are one of them, you need to learn the difference, or your 6 pack quest is doomed to failure. You need a different goal.

It's easy to see why many people make this fundamental mistake. They think about when they were young and fit and sexy, and remember that they weighed 110, 130, 150, 170, or whatever the number was. Then they figure if they looked so hot at that weight, all they'll need to do is lose a few more pounds and soon they'll be sporting 6 pack abs and look like a fitness model. But it doesn't work that way.

To a large extent, the number you see on the scale is meaningless. It doesn't much matter what you weigh. The number on the scale tells you nothing about what really matters if you're trying for that 6 pack. To eliminate your gut and get a body like a fitness model, you need to burn fat, not lose weight.

As we age, our bodies tend to lose muscle mass. Typically, a person can lose 5-10 pounds of muscle every 10 years after the age of 25 or so. If you're losing muscle, but maintaining your weight, you are adding fat. So for most people, even maintaining the same weight you had a decade ago means you are losing ground. You're body is gaining fat and losing muscle, even if your weight isn't changing.

Even worse, your metabolism slows as you lose muscle mass. So it takes less and less food to maintain your weight, making it that much harder to even keep that number on the scale steady, much less actually build the body you want. Theres little hope for your quest.

Clearly, you need to take a different approach to this problem. Your goal should be to burn fat, rather than lose weight. Why? When you look at people with 6 pack abs, you're looking at someone who has a very low amount of body fat. No matter how much they work out, no matter how fit they are, you're not going to see their abs unless they have got their body fat levels very low.

The way they do this is by working out very hard, not by dieting. The leanest people out there all exercise very hard. They work out long enough and hard enough to force their bodies to draw on fat reserves for fuel. They literally burn fat for fuel, pulling it out of the bodies storage areas and use it to power their workouts.

And here's an added bonus. The kinds of workouts that do this best (think sprinting and weight lifting) also force your body to rebuild your muscles bigger and stronger to handle the stress. And that takes energy, which means their bodies burn fat to do the work even after the workout is over.

And there's yet another bonus. The extra muscle your body builds to handle the stress of hard workouts requires extra calories to maintain itself. So your body burns more calories during the day, which helps burn fat.

Which brings us to the final reason why burning fat rather than losing weight should be your goal. If you do this right, you'll be adding significant amounts of muscle mass while simultaneously reducing the amount of fat you carry around with you. You might lose weight, you might stay the same, you might even gain weight on the way to that 6 pack. The number on the scale says nothing about the fitness of your body or what you see in the mirror when you take off your shirt.

So now you know another secret of success on your 6 pack quest. Focus on burning fat, not losing weight to develop your best body.