Lose Body Fat and Get a Lean Stomach for Good!
Vince Delmonte interviews author Mike Geary, Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Nutrition Specialist
1. Mike, what is the number one component to getting a six pack?
MG: Your training style, nutrition, and mindset are all extremely important if you want to stand a chance at getting a six pack... However, if I had to choose 1 component that is most important, it would probably have to be nutrition. Maybe you've heard the saying before that "abs are made in the kitchen".
It really is true, and that's where the majority of people go wrong in the goal to get super lean. Of course, this also ties into mindset, because you really have to get your mind in the right place in order to have the discipline to be able to eat consistently clean enough to get six pack abs.
There's a lot of confusion out there these days about calories, fat, protein, and carbohydrates... every "expert" disagrees with one another on proper ratios and types of diets. I think people make this way too complicated.
If you are just to focus on a good balance between fats, carbs, and proteins, and make sure to eat only natural unprocessed organic foods (as close to their natural state as possible) instead of packaged, processed foods, a lot of the problems that most people have with cravings, a sweet tooth, overeating, blood sugar swings, etc all take care of themselves.
We still can't lose sight of the fact that you can overeat on healthy foods and gain fat even while eating healthy. Therefore, your caloric intake needs to be controlled to a level that will promote fat loss if that's the goal.
2. Excellent Mike! Next question... What is one thing I might be doing, unknowingly, steering my quest for a six pack in the wrong direction?
MG: I'll give 2 things that may be steering you in the wrong direction...
a. Too much cardio
Some people, in their efforts to try to get lean, focus way too much on hours and hours of cardio exercise. The problem is that this can backfire on you by making you lose lean muscle mass over time, which decreases your resting metabolic rate. Once this happens, it becomes easier to pack on body fat than ever before. I've even seen many people that do too much cardio and end up getting that "skinny fat" appearance, where they have very little muscle tone, yet they have excess stomach fat (even a "gut" possibly).
Instead of excess cardio, focus more on high intensity weight training (yes, even during a "cutting" cycle, where heavier training is even MORE important). This will help maintain your lean muscle mass throughout your body, so that you don't experience the metabolic rate decrease. Maintaining as much lean muscle mass on your body at all times is one of the most important things for staying super-lean for life.
b. Not eating enough healthy fats
This is another area where I see people go in the wrong direction. They are trying to lose body fat and they end up going WAY too low on their fat intake. When you decrease your fat intake too much, you are basically messing up your fat burning and muscle building hormones. It's not uncommon to see people decrease their fat intake too low and end up reducing their testosterone levels significantly.
Try to get some sources of healthy fats with every meal to make sure you don't go too low... This could be avocados, any and all nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, etc), seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds), nut butters (almond butter, natural peanut butter, etc), virgin coconut oil (good source of medium chain triglycerides), extra virgin olive oil, grass fed beef (good source of conjugated linoleic acid and omega-3s), whole eggs (yes, whole eggs...not egg whites), etc.
3. What is one unique way of boosting your metabolism, to finally burn fat, that I might be overlooking?
MG: Incorporate any form of clean & presses into your routines twice per week. This could be barbell clean & presses or using kettlebells or dumbbells. If I had to choose one exercise that burns the most calories and has the biggest impact on increasing your metabolic rate, I'd have to choose high intensity clean & presses (with squats and deadlifts being at the top of the pack also). I like alternating the use of barbells for C&P's one workout and kettlebells for another.
If you want to learn more about how to train with kettlebells, see this article.
4. What is your number one plateau busting secret to lose the last 10 pounds?
MG: When you get to the point that you're already fairly lean, but just need to lose that last 5 or 10 lbs of body fat that is covering up your abs, you really need to take your workouts to a whole new level of intensity.
Consider adding all-out wind sprints and/or hill sprints into your routine if you want to take it to the next level of intensity.
As for gym workous, this also means no jibber-jabbering for 5 minutes in between sets at the gym... Instead, you need laser-focused intensity, and one of the best ways to keep high intensity is super-setting or alternating sets. This means while you're resting one area of your body, you're working another area of your body. I usually like to do this by alternating a really tough lower body exercise such as a squat, lunge, or deadlift, with a multi-joint upper body exercise such as a bench press, overhead press, bent over row, or pullup.
Think short rest periods, full body exercises, multi-joint exercises, lots of sweat, and your chest heaving for air... if that's what your workout is looking like, then you're on the right path. If not, then you're not working hard enough.
5. What is your advice for me to deal with the social temptations of alcohol, eating out, and junk food?
MG: This is something many people struggle with, but if you set some limits, it can be easy to deal with and still stay lean. One thing I'd suggest is to make sure to not get in a habit of drinking alcohol excessively on a daily basis. If you're going to go out and have some fun with friends, try to limit the drinking to only 1 or 2 days max per week. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that we can still go out and have fun with our friends without getting totally smashed.
You need to decide what is more important in your life... do you want to live healthy and have a strong lean body, or do you want to get full-blown drunk every night? There's a lot more to life than alcohol. This article explains some tips for moderate drinkers to stay lean.
As for eating out... If you're serious about getting and staying lean, eating out should only be an occasional event. Cooking your own food on a daily basis is extremely important as it's very hard to know what is in all of the junk at restaurants and fast food joints. One of the tricks I use when eating out is to NEVER eat fries or sodas (in fact, I never eat fries or sodas AT ALL).
Instead, go ahead and order that burger, but substitute steamed veggies or a salad for the fries. Almost every restaurant will make that substitution for you. And water or unsweetened iced tea are the best beverage options to keep the calories under control when eating out.
6. Why do I lose motivation when trying to get a six pack?
MG: Most people lose motivation because they simply aren't seeing the results fast enough. If that's why you lose motivation, go back to all of the tips and techniques we've been talking about in here and see where your nutrition or training programs are going wrong so you can get faster results. Be patient and consistent and the results will come.
Also, you can really stay motivated by focusing on what has been successful so far. For example, maybe your fat loss hasn't been what you wanted so far, but maybe you've increased your pullups from 8 to 13 and your squat weight from 185 to 225 lbs for the same reps. Keep focusing on your successes rather than your failures, and keep going for more successes.
More motivation tips -- Train regularly with a partner. This will keep you both focused and will keep you accountable to someone other than yourself. You don't want to disappoint someone else that you've made a goal with.
Also, keep a picture up in your house or at work of someone's body that motivates you to strive for those results. Look at it every day and keep visualizing your own body improving. Set a realistic goal and a time frame to achieve that goal, such as "I will lose 15 lbs of body fat in the next 8 weeks". The important thing here is realistic goal... don't expect to lose 30 lbs in 30 days (despite those weight loss scam ads that you see everywhere claiming BS like this).
7. I understand you have the number one six pack abs program on the Internet -- Truth About Abs. Why do you think it's so popular?
My Truth about Six Pack Abs program is so popular because it works! It's REAL nutrition and REAL training programs instead of useless gimmicks and fads. I give the TRUTH on what people really need to get lean sexy abs for life and why they DON'T NEED fad gimmicks like diets, ab infomercial gadgets, and bogus fat burning pills that people waste way too much money on.