Schock Your Abs into Summer Shape (and yes, I know how to spell shock!)
May 17, 2011 19 Comments
By: Julie Manriquez (email@example.com)
Last week freshman congressman, Aaron Schock, opened his shirt for the cover of the June issue of Men’s Health. Holy House of Representatives, Batman! There’s no denying that even with the airbrushing and Photoshop® removal of every bodily hair, this 8-pack (yes, with the transverse abdominus, it’s an 8-pack) is worthy of some superhero Spandex. But, Mr. Schock is 29-years-old and a Republican, which means that gravity is currently working in his favor and he enjoys sporting at least a couple of guns at all times (I’m pretty sure I see them under the shirt sleeves!). Some of my best pals are Republicans and occasionally I find myself wavering in a moderate or even (gasp!) right hand direction on issues, but these conservative abs and hyper-masculine peacocking are simply not enough to urge this mostly leftwingin’ mother of two to inch my pinkie toe across the aisle. Mr. Schock’s stance on women’s rights (he voted to defund Planned Parenthood) and global warming (opposes the reduction of coal and oil usage and believes there is little, if any, evidence of global warming and it’s effects) does not fall in line with his reported desire to reach out to the MTV generation.
Not much makes me waver from my usual news sources (The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central, and Chelsea Lately on E!), but this kind of hypocrisy offers the kind of intrigue that even the most credible installment of TMZ might miss. So off to CNN! (Note: the above comments are pure hyperbole; of course I don’t get ALL my news from Comedy Central and E! Channel). As I snooped around an array of ‘reputable’ news sources I found the most disconcerting detail of Mr. Schock’s political platform: his opposition to gay rights. Mr. Schock voted NO on passage of the House Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. This is The Matthew Shepard Act, named after the young man who was targeted, tortured and murdered in Wyoming in 1998 for being gay. He also opposes same sex domestic partnership benefits and supports bans on gay marriage.
Enough with the political crap, I know. These posts and Bobby’s website are “improvement” and “wellness” based. I just wanted you all to see a nice specimen of over-achieving-bi-curious abs (the best kind out there!) before I give you my spiel on core strength. Now, down to business.
On the TODAY show, Mr. Schock spoke about his dedication to exercise (5-7 days per week for 1-2 hours) and his belief that as long as you keep your diet in check most of the time, you are good to go. Easy for the 20-something to say. Let’s check in on him in 15 years. He actually said that 80% of the time he’s right on track but occasionally falls short and has some bread and butter or some ice cream or a misstep at the buffet table. Just like Bobby and I have preached, that 80-20 rule comes into play once again. Mr. Schock’s workouts are a little excessive and probably not practical for most of us with families and work to balance. He begins his day at 6:30 a.m. in the gym. Does this mean that with shower, chest waxing, application of hair products, warming up the smoldering gaze and consuming a healthy breakfast, he doesn’t hit his stride as Hottest Congressman until 9:00 or 9:30 a.m.? Hmmmm…just sayin’! Again, I digress. So, 5-7 days a week, Mr. Abdomilicious chooses from the following:
- A 60-75-minute P90X training session (don’t knock it til you’ve tried it. Tony Horton’s infomercial-marketed DVD training system is actually completely legit and highly recommended).
- A 60-75-minute weight routine, focusing on high-weight, low-rep exercises and alternating upper-and lower-body days.
- 3 sets of 30 pushups and 30 situps; plus a 5-mile run or 1-mile swim
Hottie McSchockPants sports a simple and more traditional maintenance plan here, but for pure midsection change to happen, most of us need abdominal-specific exercises to rotate into our regular cardio/strength workouts. Here are some tips I suggest you work into your routine:
- Challenge your abs 3-4 times per week. Give your abdominal muscles a one-day break in between workouts to recover and rebuild. Also, make your abs a priority. Don’t save your abdominal routine for the end of your cardio/strength/plyometric workout; knock out abs early when you’re fresh and strong.
Toughen up and wheel ‘em in. Make each of your various moves tough so that by the 15th-20th rep, you are feeling it (you should do three sets of each exercise you choose, 12-15 minutes of ab work altogether). Work in the old-school abdominal wheel. This is an awesome tool when used correctly (body in push-up position, knees on floor, wheel under sternum, roll it forward 8-12 inches then control movement back under your sternum steadily). My clients hate this, so of course I love it!
Have a ball! Use a Swiss ball to protect your spine and add some burn. Some of my faves like the oblique crunch (in photo) and the transverse abdominus (lower ab) plank roll are shown in this quick video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=782Riok8RGU&feature=related
- Eat flat belly foods. Reduce overall belly fat when you replace carbohydrate calories with lean turkey, fish, chicken, some dairy, eggs or nuts. Eliminate any added sugars. The average American eats 20 teaspoons of sugar daily in the form of processed foods like soda, baked goods, cereals, fruit drinks and even flavored yogurt (that’s an average of 300-350 empty calories every day). Inevitable insulin production from added sugar slows your metabolism and may put some at risk of developing diabetes.
- Good fats will make you lean. Don’t fear fat. Because fat is filling and adds flavor you will not feel deprived and therefore stick to healthy choices. Eat unprocessed foods rich in monounsaturated fats (olives, avocados, nuts). Research has also found that it’s OK to enjoy whole foods that contain saturated fat (milk, cheese, butter) in moderation.
- Take probiotic supplements or include probiotic-rich foods in your diet DAILY. Probiotics rebalance the growth of beneficial bacteria we need in our bodies to aid digestion and promote health. Beneficial bacteria in the gut ideally comprise 80-90% of the total intestinal bacterial flora. So an average of 15% of “unbeneficial” bacteria is left. When the harmful bacteria overgrow, they take over the space needed by the beneficial bacteria and crowd them out. Eat these foods or take probiotic supplements (like my favorite, Florify available at www.melaleuca.com): unprocessed yogurt with active cultures like Greek Fage yogurt, Kombucha fermented tea, fermented milk such as kefir, various pickled fermentations of cabbage, cucumbers, onions, carrots.
- Optimize your nutrition with magnesium. We require magnesium to absorb and utilize nutrients. Without it, the body cannot properly use the fats, proteins, and carbohydrates we eat every day. When we don’t get what we need from our diet, the body craves more food to obtain those vital nutrients. Magnesium activates hundreds of enzymes in the body so we can be satisfied with the amount of food we genuinely need and avoid feeling sluggish or fatigued. Liquid minerals are my favorite form of magnesium supplement, and magnesium-rich foods include: almonds, Brazil nuts, brewer’s yeast, buckwheat, cashews, kelp, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, whole grains. Refined sugar and processed foods drain the body of magnesium and should be avoided.
Remember there are four areas of the abdomen and not one should be denied its chance at super-AB-dom, so work all areas (rectus abdominus, transverse abdominus, external obliques, and internal obliques) and get ready for your close-up!
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