Our hotshot team of nutritionists and physical therapists here at Perfect Husband Laboratories recently completed a study calculating a husband’s chances of ever getting six-pack abs. ‘heir findings are illustrated in the chart below:
AGE YOUR CHANCES
¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡ <30 Slim >30 None
Now wait a second, wasn’t the whole purpose of getting married that you wouldn’t have to stay in shape anymore? Seriously, how many women have dumped their husbands because he let himself go? Well, quite a few actually, so maybe that’s not the best example. The fact is, in addition to everything else, the perfect husband should have washboard abs as well. So let’s forget for the moment that it’ll never happen, and figure out a way to use that unattainable goal to your advantage.
Keeping in mind that perfect husbandhood is a journey and not a destination, let’s make the most of your attempt at abdominal improvement. First of all, don’t keep it a secret. Make sure your wife and all her friends know you’ve decided it’s time to get washboard abs. In fact, why not make it a birthday present for your wife (of course, tell her this as soon after her most recent birthday as possible, giving you the maximum time for improvement, and to soak her appreciation for all it¡¯s worth).
The biggest obstacle to real improvement in the abs is that it takes so long to see any results. You change your diet and start doing sit-ups, and after three weeks nothing has changed. Why even bother? So, here are a few things you can do to at least create the illusion of progress more quickly.
First, dress to slenderize. Remember, vertical lines make you look thinner. Also, try wearing darker colors, particularly dark pants with a lighter shirt, and maybe even matching dark-colored shirt and pants. Finally, try flat-front pants instead of pleats. And unless you’re in a wedding party that absolutely requires it, don’t ever wear a vest.
The easiest way to actually reduce your gut is to stand up straight. You’ll be amazed at how much better you’ll look and feel when you improve your posture. This is something that will take a little time and practice to maintain, but it’s not nearly as difficult as all those crunches.
Next, let’s tweak your diet a bit. Or, tweak it a lot. Actually, perhaps you should just stop eating altogether. Maybe that’s a bit drastic. Let’s try to come up with something more reasonable. Rather than overwhelm you with some complicated diet regimen, let’s just go over some of the basic rules for a healthy diet. These guidelines build the foundation for good eating habits, and you should work to make them part of your lifestyle. If you want to embark on a more elaborate diet, consult your doctor, trainer, or a dietitian for a program customized for you.
1. Cut back on red meat. I’m not talking all tofu all the time, but try eating more chicken and fish, and less beef.
2. Cut back your intake of refined sugar and white flour.
3. Cut out fast food and fried foods completely. This one may be tough, but you’re just going to have to do it if you want better abs.
4. Cut back on the booze. I would never recommend that a married man stay sober all the time, but just try drinkng less.
5. Eat more home-cooked meals. Don’t rely on your wife, do it yourself. This way, you can control the ingredients and portion sizes* Use fresh vegetables and olive oil for a particularly healthy and delicious meal.
6. Rather than two or three big meals a day, try eating five or six small meals. Eat slowly, chewing your food completely, and be sure to drink plenty of water during meals and throughout the day.
7. If you get hungry during the day, keep healthy snacks on hand. Try a banana, an apple, or an energy bar like PowerBars or Clif Bars. Or, have a few tablespoons of peanut butter. It’s delicious, it fills you up quickly, and all that fat is monounsaturated (the same “good fat” as in olive oil) and can actually help you lose weight.
Finally, you’ve got to exercise, to help reduce your body fat and increase your muscle mass. Ideally, you’ll want to do some type of aerobic exercise for at least thirty minutes, three to five times a week. And, no, fidgeting while you’re waiting for the next batch of fries at McDonald’s does not count as aerobic exercise. So, get on a bike, a treadmill, or whatever. Just get moving.
You’ll also want to get into a regular weight-training regimen. Increasing your lean muscle mass actually helps promote your metabolic rate, so you’ll bum more calories, even while you’re sitting on the couch watching football. You’ll want to get the most out of your workout and avoid injuries, so be sure to consult with a personal trainer who can set you up with the proper workout for you. And remember, any exercise is better than none.
Finally, we come to the bane of man’s existence: die abdominal workout. I’m convinced the human male has some genetic predisposition to despise sit-ups and crunches. To minimize the anguish, our plan is to do only five to minutes of ab work every day It helps if you concentrate less on the “every day” part and more on the “five to ten minutes” part. To maximize the results, we’re going to focus on only those exercises that work the abdominal muscles most effectively
A few years ago, researchers at the biomechanics lab at San Diego State University studied thirteen different abdominal exercises to determine which were the most effective. Subjects engaged in each of the exercises to determine the levels of electrical activity each one stimulated in the two main abdominal muscle groups. The best four exercises were “the Bicycle Maneuver,” “the Captain’s Chair,” crunches on an exercise ball, and vertical leg crunches.
The Bicycle Maneuver
Lie on your back with your hands at the sides of your head (fingers laced behind or with your fingertips gently behind your ears). Bring your shoulder blades up off the ground and move your legs in a cycling motion, touching your left elbow to your right knee and then your right elbow to your left knee. Keep a slow, steady pace and keep breathing regularly .start with three sets of ten to twenty-five repetitions, and increase from there.
The Exercise Ball
This exercise also requires a piece of equipment, but it’s cheap enough to buy for use at home. This exercise was determined by researchers to be the best overall, since it required less work by the hip flexors and was the most efficient. Sit on the ball with your feet on the floor. Roll yourself forward until your thighs and torso are horizontal (at this point you’ll know if the ball is too big or too small for you). Cross your arms on your chest and, as you exhale, raise your torso up to a forty-five-degree angle, contracting your abdominals. Hold this position for a moment, and then slowly lower yourself back to horizontal while you inhale.
The Captain’s Chair
This exercise requires an apparatus found in most gyms. It’s a simple, tall structure with two horizontal armrests and a vertical back support. You step up into it backward, supporting yourself on your forearms and elbows with your legs dangling. Slowly bring your knees up to your chest, focusing on your abdominal muscles, and then slowly lower your knees back down. A more difficult variation involves leaving your legs straight and raising your feet out in front of you until they’re parallel to the floor.
The Vertical Leg Crunch
Lie flat on your back with your hands behind your head, Angers laced. Cross your legs at the ankles and raise them as close to vertical as you can, keeping your knees slightly bent. As you exhale, contract your abdominals and raise your torso up toward your knees, keeping your chin away from your chest. Hold this position for a moment, and then slowly come back down as you inhale. Keep your shoulder blades off the ground throughout, to prevent your abs from resting in between reps.
So, that¡¯s all there is to it. Just improve your diet, get sweating, lift some weights, and work those abs. The most important part of this whole process is to incorporate all this into your lifestyle, and make a healthy habit of it. Stick to it, and over time you’ll see an improvement. And, more important, your wife will, too.