Tonight while I was walking around the house shirtless, my youngest man cub walked up to me and started poking my stomach. “One, Two, Three, Four…” he was counting my six pack; though right now it’s more of a four pack. The oddity of this is that it is mid-January. Not even body builders have six packs now. Normally winter months provide a season of shortned day light, less moving, more eating, bears hybernating, and me adding an extra layer of fat to my mid-region. Granted, I have added a little, yet still showcasing a very visable outline of my transverse and rectus abdominus. I just recently listened to Arnold (if you need a last name youre on the wrong blog) on a podcast the other day state how the attempt to keep a year round six pack will drive you insane. I could see that. If you constantly have to work at it and fight for it, it would drive anyone insane. They are easily the hardest muscles to keep uncovered.
My secret, though, is that I don’t really try to keep a six pack. I try to stay on point with my diet and helath, and like a cascade effect, everything else falls into place. But antedotically speaking, let me give you my training plan for keeping a low body fat percentage during the most difficult time of the year.
- I eat fat to lose fat.
I drop my carb intake which lowers insulin, and I increase my fats. Insulin is the hormone at the wheel of the fat storing car that drives fat retention. I eat until I’m full of foods that I love, that are nutrient dense, and full of healthy fats like grass fed butter, coconut oil, and olive oil.
2. I forgive myself.
My diet isn’t perfect every day. I will fall, and fall hard occassionally. The next day, I wake up, forgive myslef and start again. I don’t starve myself to get back on track, and I dont continue down the road of dietary depravity to a world of utter lostness and no return. I just start back eating the way I know I should…(see #1)
3. I intermittenly fast.
I eat only anywhere between 4 and 6 hours every day. Leaving myself with a minimal 16 hour fasting window, my body has the opportunity to reset crucial hormones, enter a fasted state of fat burning, and upregulate ketone production. The majority of the day I’m just burning fat stores as fuel. As an added bonus, fasting has been proven to increase testosterone and Human Growth Hormone, making adding muscle much easier.
4. I man up to the cold.
I don’t let the weather dictate whether or not I’m going to work out. Even though my crossfit happens to be in a heated facility, my running still takes place in the frozen tundra that is my local running route. My beard gets ice cicles hanging from it on occasion. I refuse to let uncomfortable conditions stop me from moving .
5. I sleep more.
With daylight shortened, I allow for the natural adjustment of my circadian rythym and I respect it. I go to bed much earlier and allow my body the recovery it needs. Sleep has a wonderful effect on fat loss! *Sleep is not the same as sloth.*
6. And lastly, I lift heavy things.
I dump loads of muscle glycogen for fat burning and hypertrophy. Building lean muscle mass is vital for increasing metabolism, burning fat, and regulating healthy hormone production. It doesn’t take much, just a couple or 3 times a week; bench, squat, deadlift with some added accessory lifts, overhead press, curl, dips, lunges.
These things have just become natural routine. I don’t stress it, and I don’t beat myself up at keeping up with it. And, for all of that being said, I get to enjoy (at worst) a 4 pack of abs in mid-January, without driving myslef crazy trying to. Which at best, leaves me closer toward summer to go ahead and lean into a ripped physique without much work.