Tdee post * Link to training, tips and how you can do it (inc Tdee post) * How you can do it. * The diet. The hunger. The calorie counting. The sticking to the plan.
I’ve never really had 6-pack abs.
I’ve been slim and had a bit of definition but never had the discipline to really chisel out that fabled washboard stomach.
I like to drink, party and eat like a Viking too often to ever get the body fat percentage down (or the muscle up) to poke through the layer of belly fat.
I just wasn’t sure it was worth the sacrifice.
But I felt I shouldn’t live my life without at least trying to see if I could do it.
So a few years ago I properly went for it.
This what I found out.
(2015. Italian Holiday lift. My favourite. Out of shot is my wife making a face at me for being vain/obsessed. Her attitude needs some work.)
First off. Now I look back, I’m not even sure you can call them a 6-pack.
What are they? A 4-pack? The bottom abs aren’t really there. A likely result of drinking, genetics and poorly thought out exercises.
What about those bits on the side (obliques? serratus?). Do they count? Can I bundle them to make a two-pack? Get me up to six?
Was it worth it?
So, is having a 6-pack worth the sacrifice?
Short answer: yes.
Long answer: still, probably yes.
- The joy I’ve got from these photos lasts forever. You’ll be able to show your kids. You’ll look back as an old person and feel even worse about getting old knowing you once was a near master of this wonderful human instrument.
- Proof: That I can do something most people can’t or won’t do. This is an important part of my life outlook. If you can do other things people won’t do. That’s an advantage.
- Knowledge: I ‘could’ do it again.
- Confidence: If you can do this, you can achieve anything (within reason).
- You look good. Feeling lean and energetic is a drug.
- Clothes fit better (and the clothes maketh the man/woman).
- People pay you compliments, which is a nice dopamine rush or make jealous passive aggressive remarks (which are even more rewarding).
- It wasn’t ‘that’ hard. I still drank (gin and slimline tonic instead of beer). I ‘only’ trained 3 x a week. (I’m a bit annoyed at my old self for not working out every day now. Or not being completely abstinent from booze. Imagine the photos I’d have! A proper 8-pack maybe. Body fat so low you can see my internal organs. Coooool.)
- It takes a lot of effort.
- It takes a lot of willpower and focus.
- Unforeseen knock-on effects: The energy you use keeping to your calorie goals, swerving hedonism etc all have an opportunity cost. You can’t use that energy for other tasks.
- It made me feel a bit less manly: I exposed my abs mostly by cutting calories to lose the body fat, but this left me sub 11st and my pride didn’t like it.
Is having a 6 pack worth it?
Of course it fucking is.
For all the reasons above and more.
It’s great to test yourself. To see if you can do it. It’s symbolic. Mastering the self. Setting a challenge and meeting it. Otherwise, you’re living a life unexplored.
So if it’s mostly positives, why don’t I do it more?
Well. That’s a good question. Nice one. You’re very insightful.
This is me now:
A few years older. 40. Post workout. ‘Pumped’. I have the outlines of abs but I could work harder. Monitor eating and drinking more strictly. Swerve the hedonistic urges. Dedicate more energy to chiselling.
The problem is that you don’t really get to show off your abs very often in everyday life.
It’s a bit mad pulling your top up every few mins to impress strangers and colleagues.
So, most of the time your hard work is under wraps. Not getting the public adoration and drool it deserves!
You know it’s there, and that’s worth a lot BUT there’s probably a law of diminishing returns. For every extra % of body fat revealing your lovely core – you’re sacrificing some of the finer things in life.
The nights out. The cutting loose. The freedom. The share of hedonism that makes all your training worth it.
Looking better than 97% of your peers is achievable though.
And that will give you more joy and satisfaction, knowing you can achieve that and mix it up with some quality hedonism, rather than going 100% and realising you’re sacrificing too many earthly pleasures and chances to build a memory or story.
So I’ll keep training and eating well. As long as I’m lean and my clothes fit, I don’t need to chisel too much further.
That allows me more energy to enjoy other parts of life and ambitions.
But. I’ll always know. If I want to. I could do it.
And that’s sometimes enough.
So, YES it’s worth it. But in the long run you don’t need to sacrifice a more balanced life in favour of rippage.
Especially if you’re married or already in a relationship.
I mean really, who are you trying to impress?
The time you take a photo has HUGE impact on self-esteem and showoffness-ability. Taking a picture with optimum down lighting/shadow and post-workout obviously makes you look miles more carved than one taken in bright sunlight after you’ve just dined on a 3-hour brunch replete with copious bread/oil and beer.