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Will you ever get a six-pack?

April 15, 2008

I did a quick analysis of the e-mails i get from readers. It was quick because I don’t get hundreds of e-mails! Poor jokes apart, this is what my analysis showed. At least 80 per cent of the queries that readers send me each fortnight is: “How do I get rid of my belly flab?”

Readers say they have tried everything from extreme dieting, doing a hundred abdominal crunches, using heavily marketed gizmos such as sauna belts, abs machines and a host of other things, yet they simply can’t shed the fat around their middles. You can sense the despair in some of these mails.

So, what’s the answer? Can anyone who tries get, if not a six-pack, a flat, trim tummy? I would say yes but with several conditions. The first of these is: don’t think about it. Just don’t obsess about getting a ripped abs section; push it to the back of your mind. Now, for the other conditions.

Fig. 1 - The starting position.
Fig. 1 - The starting position.
The first big one is genetics. If you have an album with photographs of your parents when they were around your age, take a close look at how they looked. Try and match your current physical frame to the way they were at your age. This will give you some idea of what your genetic traits are. Also, everyone’s skeletal muscle distribution is different.

Put back that old album and check out some cover models. For instance, look at different cover guys in our sister publication Men’s Health ( Every one of them is a lean, ripped guy but notice something? Every one of them has a unique muscle pattern around the abdominal area. Remember that. You can’t make your middle look exactly like anyone else’s.

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But here’s how you can shed that fat and get a trimmer middle. And, if you’re lucky, even a six-pack. Let’s first begin with what I call the 15-30-15 formula for exercise. That is: 15 minutes of cardiovascular exercise (running, cycling, rowing or cross-training), followed by 30 minutes of strength (resistance) training, and, finally, another 15 minutes of cardio.

While your cardio workout has to be intensive, your weight training can focus around two muscle groups a day. For instance, chest and triceps on Day 1; back and biceps on Day 2; and shoulders and legs on Day 3. Of the remaining days, use one for doing abs exercises and the second to do only cardio work. Rest on the third remaining day.

Fig. 2 - Raise your torso from the abdomen
Fig. 2 - Raise your torso from the abdomen
We’ve got the exercise regimen out of the way. Now for the diet. Cut alcohol consumption down to two beers or two 60 ml shots of spirits a week; don’t give up on sweets and other carbohydrate laden food but just be reasonable; and try to increase your protein and water intake. Finally, don’t expect a miracle. Slog on while sticking to your regimen and results are guaranteed. Who knows, a six-pack may even pop out.

Now for a quick exercise. See the two illustrations. The ball held between your feet could be a light-weight one. Fig. 1 shows the starting position. In Fig. 2, you have to raise your torso from the abdomen; hold; and then return to the starting position. That’s one repetition. Do 10 to complete a set and then do four sets.

Muscles Mani

Write to and click here to read Treadmill blogs
Caveat: The physical exercises described in Treadmill are not recommendations.
Readers should exercise caution and consult a physician before attempting to follow any of these.

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