Last month, my 30 day challenge was to get abs. Most of my life, I have always been pretty active and I would say fairly fit but I never had defined abs let alone the infamous six pack. I thought it would be a fun physical challenge since most of my challenges are not physical in nature. I did a lot of sit up in my life but never really focused on it for the aesthetic aspects. For the past few years, I did not do much core work outs and did not lift as much as before. Most of my workouts consisted of running, swimming, basketball and yoga. Weights and abs were more of an after thought. When I did do ab workouts, I would commonly get cramps.
I wanted to take more focused approach to it so I utilized the Pareto Principle. What things that I can do will get me abs fastest? So I went back into the Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss and did the recommended ab exercises 2-3 times a week. Those exercises were the myotatic crunch and the cat vomit exercise. I only did one repetition of 10 each. Both are extremely painful if done properly. The cat vomit exercise was the worst and made me sweat up a storm. Those two exercises took about five to seven minutes in total. The only other thing that I did was cut my calories which meant reducing my meals sizes and eating more salad. I cheated a lot here but generally cut my body fat and weight during the month. Below is the before and after.
What I Learned
During the month, I came to a few conclusions. But one major thing that I realized was the importance of core in everything in life. For physical activity, it helped me become stronger, faster, and more coordinated. I hope to keep the abs but I want it to be a result of my life not a just goal for aesthetic value. So if my daily routine and activities were not conducive to it, then I can live without it. But if doing what I do like swimming, basketball and yoga as well as my diet is going to maintain it, then it will be great to have. But I do feel it will be a part of my routine because it has helped my health overall.
- Less back pain. Having a strong core helped me drastically in terms of my back pain. I have had back issues especially with the upper back which has been helped with yoga but strengthening my core actually help alleviate more pain to the point where I rarely experience the same upper back pain from before.
- Sport performance. Having a strong core also helped me with my movements as well. I found that that I was able to move faster but was also much stronger even though I was a little lighter. I was less prone to be off balance and sustained basketball collisions better (note I am still not a big fan of people fouling me going to the basket).
- Better posture. I also was pleasantly surprised to find that my posture was better and I was standing much taller. Some shirts that I wore became notiably shorter, not because my shirts shrank or I got taller but I was standing taller because my abs caused me to have better posture.
- Instagram images are fake. Having taking pictures of my abs, I started noticing other peope's abs much more. I noticed that there is a drastic impact between flexing and not flexing in pictures. Also lighting made a big impact on the results in the photos as well. I came to the conclusion that most photos of fitness people are altered or exagerated in some degree to show those results. In real life, most fitness people do no look like their photos; it is a combination of flexing, lighting, and photoshop. It creates an illusory standard for people.
- Diet matters a lot. Most of my progress was seen when I started cutting my food intake in the last couple weeks of the month. It could have been a combination of progress from my exercises and diet but diet made the muscle definition much better.
- A little more confidence. I definitely felt a little more confident about my body because it does make a different in how your body looks. It just nice looking in the mirror and being able to see the definition in your core.