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Hacking The Six Pack: 3 High Leverage Hacks To Six Pack Abs

09/10/2012

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Hacking The Six Pack: 3 High Leverage Hacks To Six Pack Abs

This is a guest post from Joel Runyon of Impossible HQ.

I love a good challenge. For the last 2 1/2 years, I’ve been steadily working on a list of impossible challenges and crossing them off my impossible list. My most recent one was to get six pack abs and do a photo shoot. Despite not having worked out for a couple months and being way out of shape I committed to do it in 8 weeks. I realized too late that for the entire program, I was going to be traveling in the Dominican Republic and wouldn’t have access to a gym. It seemed like I had gotten myself into an impossible situation.

But it didn’t matter and I was committed. So, over the next 8 weeks, I lost 34 pounds, dropped to 5.4% body fat and finally got the six pack abs I wanted.

So how do you do it? Well, instead of focusing on everything that could possibly work and doing them all poorly, I decided to focus on the three highest leverage things to help me burn fat and get six pack abs. Here’s how you hack the six pack.

Hack #1 Clean Up Your Diet
You’d be surprised at what you can do simply be cutting the crap out of your diet.

Some people work in phases, but I find going cold turkey is the best way to stay far, far away from temptation. Otherwise, it’s too easy to rationalize and make excuses.

  • No bread/grains.
  • No processed foods.
  • No sugar.
  • No alcohol.

I usually choose the nuclear option and throw out anything that falls in that list above. From here on out, your menu consists of meat and vegetables and some fruit. Don’t grieve too much over missing out on your morning english muffin, remember – you can eat all the steak and bacon you want. This approach also cuts out the dreaded calorie counting, which isn’t only ineffective but incredibly tedious and time consuming.

But why cut out the foods above in the first place? The science is quite in-depth, but long story short: carbohydrates are sugars. Sugars in your system, spike your insulin levels. High insulins levels prevent your body from burning fat and when your body doesn’t use fat for energy, it stores it on your body and you get fat.

So if you cut those carbs and sugars out of your diet, and you stop that whole process at it’s starting point. No matter what you’d like to think, you simply can’t out run a bad diet. If you’re not willing to clean up how you cook, you won’t clean up how you look.

Hack #2 – High Intensity Interval Training
Stop running. Please stop running. If you really love running – that’s fine, but if you want to get a six pack and burn fat fast, for the love of God please stop running. You can also forget about the 2 hour long gym sessions.

You don’t need to work out for hours on end, meandering through the gym and hoping that the bench press is open and you don’t need to run marathons to lose weight (in fact it just might do the opposite). While you might lose weight running, you’ll also have a tendency to lose muscle (hence why you see so many “skinny fat” marathoners).

A 30 minute high-intensity interval training session not only has the benefit of saving you an incredible amount of time over 8 weeks, but it also means you’re moving the entire time. These keeps your heart rate elevated and not only ensures that the fat you’re losing is fat, not muscle. It also keeps your body burning fat for the 24 hours after you’ve finished working out.

Instead of running 20 miles a day for your daily workout, try 20 minutes of running 100m sprints intervals followed by 30 seconds of rest.

Hack #3 – Intermittent Fasting
Yup, #3 is about your diet as well (I told you it’s that important). Want to see incredible results in your body? Try skipping the common 3 meals-a-day ritual everyone has and experiment with intermittent fasting. No, you don’t have to run off into a desert and stop eating for 4 days straight like Maneesh, but limit the times you eat throughout the day to an 8 hour window from 11am to 7pm. This not only allows you to maintain your stable insulin levels that you achieved while sleeping, but it’s simply harder to eat as much food in 8 hours as you normally would in 16-18. Experiment with different feeding windows.

The biggest hack of all:
When it comes to six pack abs, or hacking anything in life for that matter: if you want something, go after it intensely. Go all out. If you want to get a six pack, hack the crap out of your body and go hard for 8 weeks or however long it takes. Don’t waste your time wondering if you can do it or not. Just do it. Take that first step today. That’s how Maneesh ended up traveling the world and becoming a DJ in Berlin.

Once you’re where you want to be, then pull back on the intensity if you want. By then, you’ll have built the systems you need and formed the habits that let you turn on your fat burning mode anytime you want. And, while you don’t have to maintain a walk-around six pack if you don’t want to, you’ll be able to maintain at a point close enough that you should be able to get back to your six pack abs on demand with a couple a weeks notice.

How To Hack The Six Pack: A Summary
There you have it, the 3 biggest hacks to getting a six pack:

  • Cut out the crap food. No bread/grains, processed foods, sugar or alcohol.
  • Trade your 2 hour workouts for 20 minutes of high-intensity intervals
  • Eat between 11am and 7pm.

Oh, and if you want something – go after it. Go all out. Life’s too short to waste your time telling yourself it’s impossible.


Joel does the impossible through physical challenges like his recent six pack abs transformation. You can do the same with your own personal Impossible Abs six pack challenge.

{ 20 comments… }

AestheticAthletic March 12, 2016 at 4:37 am

Remember abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym. So 70% Diet and 30% Gym. Eat healthy cut out sugars, eat less carbs and eat the right amount of protein also stay active and know your “BMR”, go on a caloric deficit if you wanna lose body fat and get lean or go on a caloric surplus if you wanna gain mass. But more important than gym and dieting the one thing you should have is determination, that is the key to success.

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lewis August 4, 2014 at 1:58 pm

Does “No Sugar” mean no fruits?

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Mike McKay June 29, 2013 at 4:06 am

All you’re saying is dead TRUE. I think that in my case, 80% of my results come from my diet itself. Everybody can lift, run, etc. But cutting the bad/fattening/unnutritious foods is the action that has the most leverage for everyone; this, i’m pretty sure of it.

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Antje February 24, 2013 at 7:46 pm

Today, I went to the beach with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She
placed the shell to her ear and screamed. There
was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back!
LoL I know this is totally off topic but I had to tell
someone!

Reply

Jay July 22, 2014 at 1:52 am

Haha! Totally random comment I loved

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bbrain February 24, 2013 at 7:49 am

Great thread!

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alphalpha October 23, 2012 at 12:00 pm

I have tried the paleo diet for 3 months now and also have a visible six pack. I haven’t resorted to intermittent fasting though. I focused more on cutting out the carbs, heavy compound lifting and simple tabatha sprints. And yes, ample sleep is a must for fat burning. Also, try to live a stress-free life. I am a student and being stress-free is easier for me. I understand that most people find it difficult given their jobs, the pressure to perform well etc. But, stress releases many “bad” hormones which stop our body from losing fat.

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Pat September 24, 2012 at 6:41 am

Awesome article. I heard something a while back about eating as regularly (but smaller amounts) as possible to keep the metabolism firing. This to me means eating first thing waking up and last thing before bed (before bed – often just a protein shake or something small). This is obviously different to the 11-7 concept, what do people think about this.
Thanks for your help. Cheers

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Devon September 13, 2012 at 2:25 am

For males for the high intensity interval training what exercises do you recommend to do in the 20 minutes to fast track ab development?

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Andrew September 11, 2012 at 8:29 pm

Interesting. Didn’t know that eating between 11am and 7pm was so crucial.

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Turner September 11, 2012 at 5:55 pm

All about the diet. I just got back from Greece and Turkey and lost 15 pounds (I wasnt fat before) from eating Greek salads, Greek yogurt, and drinking only 4 days a week vs 7:)

It is incredible how much more your diet affects your outcome than working out. I dont know if that is a good thing or bad, but just the reality. I like the variety on your site. Keep it up.

Turner

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Wes September 11, 2012 at 10:30 am

I have always been intensely interested in understanding what optimum health for the human body looks like. And while “optimum” rests at different levels for every individual, there are a few holes that society has created that will severely compromise our health while giving the illusion of a healthier and stronger body. Even worse, we often don’t see ourselves tumbling head first into these culturally-created holes.

I came from the same line of thinking Joel does when I was a personal trainer. Animal proteins were in, processed carbs and grains were out. Protein shakes were in, saturated fats were way the hell out. Intermittent fasting was the newest black and eating after 7pm was a fantastically huge no-no. It was all about protein, protein, protein, and timing the meals perfectly.

And yes, it worked. I achieved the long-desired 6-pack and my confidence soared at the beach and the pool when I could show them off. Despite an intense lethargy and lack of energy, I was super-sweet with my super-sweet pack.

I’m going to cut to the point though because I don’t think it’s appropriate to write a novel on the comment board. So, in short…that amount of meat is a terrible long-term strategy for health. In fact, that amount of meat is going to complicate your life greatly, be it from cancer, heart disease, arthritis, constipation, liver dysfunction, kidney dysfunction, colon blockages, brain abnormalities, any combination of the aforementioned or something else entirely that I haven’t listed.

Think about it from an evolutionary standpoint. In our entire evolutionary history, no human has ever consumed the amount of meat we are consuming today, especially in this kind of diet. If it was a time of great surplus because they successfully hunted a big animal, then they would gorge on that animal protein until it was a) too rotten to eat, b) taken by scavengers, or c) depleted from all the mouths feeding on it. It would then be another while before they would eat meat again. So what did they sustain their bodies on for the greater periods of time? Vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds…

You will achieve a better looking 6 pack, with greater definition, and bigger feats of strength by keeping it simple and eating only vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. There will be no major compromises to your health to the point of deep sickness and possibly death. In fact, you will be answering your bodies silent prayers by giving it the full spectrum of nutrients it requires.

Here’s the thing, this is totally out of line with what we are told by the media. So I always catch a lot of flack for putting forward this information. Fitness mags, personal training blogs, and gym-myth all states that animal protein in huge amounts…sometimes as large as 1.5-2.5 grams per pound of bodyweight…is what it takes to get stronger and leaner. It’s just not true, and it’s so harmful. Oh, and guess who sponsors the research that states these claims…Ah yes, the meat and dairy industry! How convenient for them…

Yes, it works in achieving the desired look, but you have to understand the long term effects of this kind of diet.

And to answer the first question you’re going to ask…Yes, you will get enough protein from a plant-based diet.

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Pat September 24, 2012 at 6:35 am

Thanks Wes. I was just about to ask the best way to approach this diet for a vegetarian.

What are your thoughts on eggs, tofu, protein shakes, and other non-animal based protein supplements.

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Anna September 11, 2012 at 8:58 am

It also helps that you’re a man and dudes tend to lose weight faster. *sigh*

Great post though! Quick question: wouldn’t all the weight come back if you start eating those foods again? Also, don’t you mostly lose water weight when you lose that much in such a short amount of time?

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Alessio September 11, 2012 at 9:36 am

Anna,

It’s more of a lifestyle than a ‘diet.’ If you make it a habit to not eat those foods, you will notice all round positive side effects, like better mood, more energy and better sleep. You wouldn’t want to go back to those foods at all.

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Tyler September 11, 2012 at 3:22 pm

It works about the same, if not better for women. The difference is, you’ll most likely lose weight in cycles (after 1 week, or a weekend) instead of days, but it really depends on you.

Good question: Yes. I lost 55 pounds, and after many months of being mostly free with whatever I ate, I gained about 13 pounds back. The idea most of the time is to take a good diet, like Slow-Carb (which is basically the above), and eating that for the rest of your life. You can have cheat days, etc., and in case you REALLY need eat at McDonald’s, the time it takes to lose the weight is extremely short in comparison to what most people think.

To your second question, all I can say is no. If you were to run in 90 degree heat with a sweat suit on, then you’d lose mostly water weight (which is like going from fit to anorexic) and the difference isn’t that substantial. I can’t give you a scientific answer, but from my experience it’s all fat loss.

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Joel September 12, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Anna-

I’ve found that the habits I build over the 8 weeks leave me eating many of the same foods after the program is over.

Sure, if you go back to eating candy bars, cake and other junk food, you can’t maintain your physique indefinitely, but I’ve found the program & regimen of focusing for 8 weeks helps me build those habits intensely and then use those built up habits post-program to maintain and continue the healthy living.

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Coop September 11, 2012 at 8:48 am

I’m always trying to find the best ways to help my clients, so I’m going to have a look at your site.

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Matt Greener September 10, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Really good tips, diet has to be nearly everything as your body is not a master alchemist. Can’t produce what you don’t put into it.

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Biswashree September 10, 2012 at 6:47 am

I religiously check your blog for new posts…….so I’m beyond excited that it’s finally here. Now, as for the subject of the post…..it really hits home with me. I have also gone cold turkey on all carbs for a few months now and only take 2 meals (8am – fruits; 3pm- lunch) a day. Now I only need to get back on my yoga schedule and I’ll be good to go. Feeling kick ass……..Rock on…….

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