6 Minute Six-Pack

Six-pack abs could quite possibly be the most sought after and desired accomplishment in the fitness world. Six-packs have become a status symbol obtained only by the ridiculously fit. Here is a simple yet effective ab workout that will crush your abs and have you on your way to your own six-pack in no time.  This routine uses just three moves: Planks, Bicycles and Russian Twists. These three exercises are a mix of isometric and plyometric exercises that target a variety of different muscles in your abdomen.

Plank

Quite possibly the simplest of ab exercises, the plank is a highly effective isometric core workout. The plank primarily targets your rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis, wile recruiting support from your obliques for stabilization. This exercise can be easily modified to increase intensity (hold the exercise for a longer duration or raise onto your hands from your elbows) and decrease intensity (perform the exercise for a shorter duration). BodyBuilding.com has a good tutorial on how to perform the exercise with proper form.

Photo by Men’s Fitness

Bicycles

Bicycles also primarily target your rectus abdominis but with more of an emphasis on your obliques and iliopsoas (hip flexors) than planks do. This exercise can be modified to increase intensity (hold a weight behind the head or perform on an incline with your legs above your torso) and decrease intensity (perform the exercise for a shorter duration). BodyBuilding.com has a good tutorial on how to perform the exercise with proper form.

Russian Twists

While Russian Twists will also work your rectus abdominis they primarily focus on your obliques (both internal and external). This exercise can be modified to increase intensity (increase weight) and decrease intensity (decrease weight or perform with no weight). BodyBuilding.com has a good tutorial on how to perform the exercise with proper form.

The Workout

  • 3 Minutes of Plank immediately followed by
  • 2 Minutes of Bicycles immediately followed by
  • 1 Minute of Russian Twists

This workout can be modified to be made easier (implement a rest between exercises) or modified to be made harder (performing multiple rounds of the workout).

While this exercise routine is a good starting point for gaining core strength, it alone is most likely not enough to get you your coveted six-pack. The single most important factor in determining if someone has a six pack or not is their body fat percentage. It is believed that a man has to have about a 10% or lower body fat percentage to have a visible six-pack (women would need to have roughly 16% body fat or lower to have a visible six-pack). The best way to reduce body fat percentage is to eat a nutritious whole food plant based diet and perform regular cardiovascular exercises.

6 minutes is less than half of 1% of your day, get started towards your six-pack today! If you have another good ab exercise please add below in the comments section.

The 4 Keys to Better Nutrition

It seems that every nutritional expert these days is contradicting his or her colleague in regards to what is nutritious and what is not. If you are anything like me, this makes determining how to eat nutritiously quite a chore. There are a few things that most experts seem to agree on though that can lead to a more nutritious diet and a healthier overall life style. Diet is arguably the single most important factor in determining ones overall life long health.

The wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings. Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.

–Hippocrates (father of modern medicine)

Below are my 5 keys to eating nutritiously:

1) Lifestyle

To live a healthy nutritious life, the first step is to make a lifestyle change in regards to nutrition. Do not start a diet that has an end date to it, at best your results would only last the duration of the diet. Not to mention it is widely accepted that 95% of diets fail before completion. Do not begin a fad starvation diet but instead follow the keys below to lead a nutritious life.  Implement a “Cheat Meal” once a week, cheat meals can help maintain our healthy lifestyle without giving up and one unhealthy mean a week will have minimal effect on our overall health.

2) Whole Food Plant Based

Quite possibly the most important key to nutrition is to eat whole food plant based meals.  This includes plenty of vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, nuts and fat-free or low-fat milk products. A whole food plant based diet will naturally be low in fats (both trans fats and saturated fats), cholesterol, sodium and sugars and will provide a good or source of fiber, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.  Try to implement whole grain foods, substitute your red meats in for chicken or fish and eat plenty of vegetables.

Nutrition.jpg
Photo by Honolulu Media

3) Hydration

Your body is said to consist of about 60% water and thus proper hydration is essential for your well being. Proper hydration can help with transportation and absorption of nutrients, digestion, circulation and more. According to the Mayo Clinic the Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake for men is roughly about 13 cups (3 liters) of total beverages a day. The adequate intake for women is about 9 cups (2.2 liters) of total beverages a day.

4) Variety

Vary the foods that you eat. The more of a variety of colors and textures the better.  This will ensure that you are consuming a wide range of different nutrients and vitamins. When shopping for produce at the store try to pick a variety of different brightly colored fruits and vegetables.

Go out and eat some vegetables and leave a comment below if you know another key to proper nutrition that is not on the list.

Top 3 Reasons to Maintain an Active Lifestyle

Experts often disagree as to what the ideal intensity, precise duration and exact type of exercise is to obtain maximum health. What health experts can all agree to however, is that maintaining a healthy active lifestyle and exercising regularly is fundamental to leading a long healthy life. What exactly constitutes a “healthy active lifestyle” will vary depending on the expert asked, but the general consensuses seems to be that about half an hour of activity just 5 times per week can yield some pretty drastic life long results. There are countless scientific studies on the benefits of an active lifestyle but below are the three reasons I choose to stay active.

1) Physical Health

Staying active, along with eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy sleep schedule, can do wonders to ones long term health. Information obtained from  National Institute of Health (NIH), Mayo Clinic, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and National Health Service (NHS) state that regular exercise has the ability to reduce the risk of developing diseases and health complications as well as promote good health.

Exercise Can Reduce the Risk of Developing: Cardiovascular Disease (cardiovascular disease is responsible for 1 in every 4 deaths in the United States), Type 2 Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome, Some Cancers (colon and breast), Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, High Blood Pressure, High Low-Density Lipoprotein Levels (bad cholesterol), Stroke, Arthritis, Depression and Dementia.

Exercise Can Help: Manage and Reduce Blood Pressure, Control Weight, Increase High-Density Lipoprotein Levels (good cholesterol), Maintain Healthy Bones, Muscles and Joints, Lower Triglyceride Levels, Manage Blood Sugar and Insulin Levels, Reduces Levels of C-Reactive Protein (CRP), Decrease Stress, Improve Sleep, as well as Increase Energy and Libido.

[Exercise] can reduce your risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer by up to 50% and lower your risk of early death by up to 30%.

National Health Service

2) Mental Health

Exercise has been proven to elevate mood and improve attitude, ever hear of a runner’s high? While the jury is still out on what the exact causes of a runner’s high is it is well know that exercise releases endorphinsdopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine and endocannabinoids all of which can contribute to you feeling happier and more relaxed.

Exercising regularly can help you feel a sense of accomplishment as well as make you feel better about your appearance thus boosting your self-esteem and confidence.  Regular exercise is credited with reducing stress and depression.

Regular physical activity can help keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp as you age. It can also reduce your risk of depression and may help you sleep better. Research has shown that doing aerobic or a mix of aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities 3 to 5 times a week for 30 to 60 minutes can give you these mental health benefits.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

3) Recreation

In my opinion the most important benefit of living an active life style is the joy and excitement it brings to me each and every day. Whether I am playing organized sports, shooting hoops in my driveway, going on an all day snowshoeing expedition, a quick hike, or a Sunday morning run I love being active. Of the countless ways to live an active lifestyle there is surely a fit for everyone!

Running at Lake Tahoe
Image by Scott Rokis Photography via Ascent Runs

Know any other awesome benefits to living an active lifestyle? What motivates you to exercise? Post a comment below!