by Andrew Pacholyk MS L.Ac ~
I was at the beach this past Memorial day and was astonished, when I started noticing a pattern in men (of ALL ages) and that was the lack of control and amount of fat many men have, starting from their navel to their pubic bone! It is not unusual as a man ages that this starts becoming more pronounced, yet I was seeing these basketball ponches of belly fat on young guys!
Over the years, I have had many male patients of all shapes and sizes. The majority of the times a man whom seeks treatment with me, tends to be searching for help in the three most important areas a man cares about, his sex drive, losing weight and coping with the signs of aging. Most often the situation I am talking about here, often affects all three of these issues in men and that issue is belly fat. I am referring to the part of a man that is most often the weakest and that is his lower abdomen.
I have struggled with my own weight over the years. As a dancer, your weight becomes a central player in your life. It was because of dance that I lost my baby fat as a teenager. As I grew older and changed careers my other life as a yoga teacher, gym rat and healthcare professional have kept me in tune and constantly aware of my body and how I would lose and put on weight. Into my 40’s when my metabolism seemed to change more
drastically, I really became aware of how my diet was the number one controller of how my body reacted and looked.
No matter what your age, your diet is the key to those flat, washboard abs! You can do all the crunches and cardio you like, but if you are putting the wrong foods in your mouth and at large quantities, you will never have the great abs you may be working for.
A man must maintain his weight based on his height and proportions. If you are overweight and you cannot even see your shoes when you look down, a restricted caloric diet is essential. In this case, a man should restrict their calorie intake to 1500 a day. You must be aware of your calorie intake. If you are unsure about the calories in your meal, I feel it is essential to learn this amazing tool for affective weight loss. Record in a ledger or journal the calories of everything you put in your mouth for one week. Be in tune to the total calories you consume daily, and make an effort to replace high-fat foods with low-calorie ones like vegetables and fruits.
If you are a man who does physical exercise, is conscious of what you eat and still
needs to lose a few vanity pounds, it is important that you do three things.
-Make sure you are having protein with every meal.
-Lift heavier at the gym, with longer periods (days in between workouts) of rest
-Be extremely cautious of your calories from fat. Keeping fat intake to less than 40g per day should be your goal.
We know from the science that 1 pound of fat is equal to approximately 3,500 calories, so a daily calorie deficit of 500 (calories less), should result in 1 pound per week of fat loss. Of course, we have to take into account body weight and height, age, gender, and exercise level, but maintaining these guidelines can make an extreme difference.
I cannot stress enough how discipline is the second most important aspect in losing weight or achieving those strong abs! It is the secret to the most effective, efficient and well strategize plan you can give yourself! Being successful, losing weight, maintaining relationships are not tasks that come easy for most people. They are all things we must work hard at creating, keeping and maintaining!
So again, diet is the key to flat lower abs. All those sit ups will not bring those abs popping out through the layers of fat. As you lose the weight, those abs start to emerge themselves. Working on them in the gym will help to bring out the definition. As that layer of fat dissolves, your abs become more pronounced.
Two exercise secrets to maintaining those lower abs come in the form of isolation.
Exercise 1. This sit up is done by laying flat on the floor or exercise mat. Bend your
knees to a 45 degree angle with your feet on the floor. Ankles close together but not touching.
A. Lace your fingers and place them behind your head. Engage the movement from your core center lifting your head and upper shoulders off the ground. Keep your lower back on the ground. Lift your toes toward your chest. Keep the heels on the ground.
B. Slightly tuck and lift your coccyx bone off the ground.
C. Return your toes and head back to the starting position. Repeat 20-40 times.
Special notes: Do not pull on your head with your hands. The hands are just at the head for placement not for yanking your upper body toward your lower body. The lift comes from engaging your lower abdomen, not pulling your head upward. The slight tilt and lift of the coccyx bone is all the contraction you need to stimulate the lower abs.
Exercise 2. Slightly more advanced. This sit up is done by lying flat on the floor or exercise mat. Tuck your fists, one under each buttock. Slightly tuck your coccyx bone down by tipping your pelvis up. Nothing leaves the ground. Bring your feet and ankles off the ground and bend your knees at a 45 degree angle and center them over your pelvis.
A. Your knees are centered over your pelvis and ankles stay together.
B. Now, pull your lower abdomen in tight, initiating the movement from your lower abdomen and rock (very controlled) the knees ever so slightly toward your chest as your coccyx bone lifts slightly off the ground.
C. Bring your knees back over your pelvis. Repeat 20-40 times.
Special notes: Do not let your knees return back any further than your pelvic bones. Otherwise, you put stain on your lower back. Also, you keep your head on the floor. You may want to roll a towel up and put it under your neck for support (the back of the head should still touch the floor.)
Variation to this exercise. Instead of bring the knees to the chest, slightly straighten the knees and lift the heels toward the ceiling just about two inches, as your coccyx bone lifts slightly off the ground, then return.
So, to recap, the secrets to great lower abs are a proper diet, (calorie and fat controlled) and two great lower ab exercises. This combination will give you the flat lower abs that completes the six pack. When we are weight proportional and not struggling with belly fat, our hormones are more regulated. This means better sex drive and also the metabolic boost we need to feel and look younger. You will also find your pants fit better and if you’re consciously pulling those abs in when you walk, they will help to prevent lower back pain and keep your core strong and upper carriage taller!