My most asked question come spring time is… “Mark, how can I get a six pack?”
The short answer is that it’s a combo of diet and bodybuilding workouts that leads to success. NOT insane amounts of cardio and crunches.
Abs are built in the kitchen – so you NEED to cut.
And, if you’re on a cut and want to get a six pack, you should do LESS weight training, not more.
Shocked!? Let me explain…
The goal when cutting is not to change your workouts to something that makes the body become more “toned” and defined in 1 step. Why not? Because there’s no such thing.
Your weight training doesn’t change just because you’re cutting. High reps won’t help, shorter rest periods won’t help; nothing really gets you cut apart from diet. Fact.
The goal when cutting is to seek to continue to add muscle mass (or at least preserve it) with anabolic-type training, while taking care of fat loss with diet (and possibly a little bit of cardio).
This leads to the “toned”, “ripped”, or “defined” look. It’s a 2 step process:
- Continue to train bodybuilding style
- Torch fat with diet
There is no special type of training that leads directly to this look. It’s muscle-building training combined with diet that gets results.
Now…I said above that there is 1 thing that SHOULD change.
And that is the amount or VOLUME of your training.
It should actually decrease. Why?
It all goes back to a phrase I coined a few years ago – ‘Peak Overcompensation Point‘ (POP).
What is POP? Take a look at this diagram, which features in the free THT book. Bear in mind that recovery and growth/overcompensation takes place in the rest periods after workouts. The workout itself merely STIMULATES this process into action.
POP can be defined as…
the period of time it takes for your workout to produce MAXIMAL GROWTH and BEFORE the muscle starts to ATROPHY (get smaller) again.
When cutting your nutritive equilibrium will have shifted, i.e. you’re in a caloric deficit and eating below maintenance energy requirements much of the time.
This has the effect of prolonging your POP as you simply cannot recover and grow as quickly in a calorie deficit environment.
You could take the approach of taking longer lay-offs between workouts to compensate for this, but a much better method is to REDUCE the volume of work completed in order to ensure that your recovery/growth time does NOT increase.
However, you will still work to the same level of INTENSITY. Intensity never changes; you’ll simply complete less sets per workout.
The result is that we can CONTINUE to make progress in the gym week after week while in a calorie deficit.
This is in stark contrast to most people who go on a cut and lose massive amounts of strength and muscle tissue along with body fat. Unfortunately, many of these people then think there is something wrong with them, rather than with the inferior plan they are using. They conclude that they just won’t ever have a six-pack 🙁 .
TSPA‘ers constantly report continuing strength gains all throughout the program (along with not really feeling that hungry due to the nutritional design and set-up).
On the other hand, if you want to ignore the FACTS and try to get muscular and lean by doing poorly designed, catabolic, über-aerobic, ridiculous programs that will end up leaving you looking like someone dying of starvation, go for “Insanity” or P90X.
And this isn’t a sales pitch. If you don’t buy my program or anyone else’s, at least take this advice:
Train with the same intensity but reduce the volume of sets
Create a caloric deficit while still getting your daily protein needs
Add a little cardio into the mix, but only after a few weeks as a booster. You can’t go gung ho with diet and exercise from day 1 when cutting because you’ll soon damage your metabolism and stall – hard! This is the situation experienced by those who starve themselves and start cardio from day 1 only to stop losing fat after a few weeks despite their best efforts.
Cut the right way!