I stopped reading Men’s Health magazine years ago once I realized they only seemed to report on nutrition, exercise and scientific studies that were either produced by or were at least supportive of the sponsor on the next page. They, like many other “fitness” lifestyle brands love to print page after page after page of routines and diets and supplements that are designed to get you jacked and hella lean with crazy endurance and perfect skin.
And to the consumer, it’s exactly what we’re looking for. Someone else has done the work for us — THIS magazine has cut through all the bullshit, translated the scientific lingo into dummy terms and distilled all the information into three pages (or one iconographic) that will tell me exactly what foods I need to eat (or NEVER eat), which exercises to do (or NEVER do), which supplements to take (or NEVER take) and each comes with a link to where you can buy the right $tuff.
Their diet claims are usually alarmist and are based entirely on clicks (just see how many Keto references are on Men’s Health’s website currently), their “celebrity” workout plans are highly inaccurate and often require equipment common gyms will never have, and their overall model is one that continuously sells the average Joe a highly unattainable reality … yet he just keeps buying it.
Why all this vitriol toward popular health magazines?
Because this popped up in my inbox over the weekend:
This Brutal Ab Circuit Will Rock You to an 8-Pack
This prize-winning, ultra-secret, breakthrough ab circuit will absolutely blow your mind … when you learn that it’s merely three “rocking” variations of the hollow body hold. They appear to be a part of a larger program being sold in book form on the website (because of course it is). It’s written by a trainer who’s certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association, so I have no doubt that the program overall is effective.
So the larger program is good but you run into problems when “journalists” who have no certifications to speak of and seem to just write for whoever will pay them (can’t blame them — also yes, I stalked this dude way more than I’d like to admit) start making claims like this shit will give you an 8-pack.
I can hear you, though — dude’s just doing his job. He’s writing for a bullshit men’s lifestyle magazine that pays its bills by making people click links to pages they’ve sold ads on. And you’re right; he is merely doing his job.
But think about this — there are people all over the world that have set New Year’s goals to get themselves in shape. There are tons of people that have recently been given a medical diagnosis that requires them to lose the fat or else. There are just so many people in the world that don’t know where to look for good information. And the fact that Men’s Health … and Women’s Health … and Men’s Journal … and Muscle and Fitness … and countless other publications have flashy websites, large social media followings and celebrities on their covers is enough to convince most people that the information they’re selling is legit.
Sometimes it is. Most of the time it’s not.
That program will not and never will give you an 8-pack.
I hate to break it to you guys but you can do thousands of crunches, sit-ups and planks and you will never get a four or a six or an eight or whatever other count of pack you think you’ve earned by laying on the ground flailing around for hours. Your midsection is going to be sore and yes, you will get much stronger … But defined abs simply will not emerge no matter how many of these weird hollow body holds you subject yourself to.
The result is tens … maybe hundreds … maybe thousands of dudes that get frustrated with their lack of progress so they quit. I mean, the magazine said it would give me an 8-pack — what am I doing wrong?
But it ain’t y’all’s fault (entirely).
At the end of class at TITLE Boxing Club, we finish things off with 7-15 minutes of core where I guide my members through a variety of moves to work all areas of their abdomens, hips, lower backs, glutes and balance. But I ain’t selling my members any bullshit. I’m often up front while we do core and I confess to them that this work won’t get them a six-pack. But it’s also not intended to. We do core workouts to make our cores stronger. This not only makes us better boxers but it will also make normal everyday life much easier. Stability will increase, range of motion will increase, posture will improve and you will be undeniably stronger as a result of the work we do during the last portion of class.
But nope. No six packs. I tell my people six packs are made in the kitchen and that’s exactly why I don’t have one.
It’s estimated that about 40% of adults over the age of 20 in the United States are obese (with a BMI of over 30) and another 30+% are considered overweight (BMIs between 25 and 30). According to an admittedly limited study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, between the years of 1999-2004, the average American male’s body fat percentage was 28.1% while the average female sat at 40%. These numbers mean nothing until you realize that healthy numbers for males and females are 18-24% and 25-31% respectfully. Anything greater is considered obese.
And if these numbers didn’t seem impossible enough … men typically don’t see their abs until they’re between 16-19% and they won’t have that defined look until they’re in the 11-12% range. For women, those abs start showing between 21-23% but won’t start looking defined until 15-17%!
Let’s be honest — that’s really fucking low.
Let’s be even more honest — that’s really not fucking worth it.
So what are your goals? For most of you, I’m willing to bet those goals are something like “feel better with my shirt off” or “be more confident” or “go down a shirt size” — hell, it may just be “BE HEALTHIER.” Defined abs are nice but they have nothing to do with either of these goals. They’re not a part of any attainable goal (as far as I’m concerned) unless your goal is to compete or get a modeling gig.
Love you guys but that ain’t y’all.
In the end, the only way to get defined abs is to reduce your body fat percentage heavily. You have to have your workouts on point and your nutrition in check. And by “in check” what I mean to say is it has to be perfect. Not damn-near, not mostly, but perfect.
Chris Hemsworth did it. So did Jason Momoa. So did Michael B. Jordan. Those are great goals to admire but those dudes get paid to do it. That’s full-time paid to get in shape for movie roles. They have trainers and assistants and chefs and nutritionists and quite literally all the time in the world while preparing for said roles. I’m guessing you don’t. CGI also isn’t available IRL yet so you’re not getting any help there, either, bruh.
This doesn’t mean we can’t get a move on in that direction! Any progress is good progress when it comes to your health and fitness. Fully defined abs may be way-way-way too far out of reach at this point, but decreasing your body fat percentage a little bit isn’t.
So let’s make a series out of it. Spend some time developing some attainable goals for your fitness / health / life and meet me back here next week when we talk about …