I was asked this question on Facebook a couple of weeks back. Now, the old Rocco would have beaten that inquiry to a pulp… verbally, of course.
But the new, well-informed Rocco realized he needed to take a step back and evaluate what the question was. Many of us who call ourselves fitness professionals have what I call a “default” mechanism that spews only what we think we know. And that’s not healthy or good for the public trying to cut the confusion.
Not Everyone Likes To Exercise
Hell, I don’t even like it most of the time, but I believe it is a necessity to stay strong and balanced. I consider exercise to be the mundane, robot/zombie-like exhibition of performing a predictable combination of specified sets and reps.
And don’t even get me started on “cardio.”
Okay, I just f–ked up and got myself started on cardio.
I also hate—I mean viscerally hate—the way gym zombies walk in step on treadmills, walking or running for an hour and believing that is somehow good for them. It’s not — especially at a gym.
There are too many germs, bad air quality and the repetitive impact on your leg joints is more detrimental than not running. So, why do it? Good question. I don’t know.
Now that I have told you what I believe exercise to be, I will explain how to get great abs without exercising.
Many months back, I wrote a column that explained, “Exercise is optional, but the movement is mandatory.”
Movement is the activity that produces a flexing and extending of many or all of your muscle groups, creating a balance throughout your skeletal and muscular systems. I say skeletal because when you move your muscles, they pull on your bone, starting a process to make them stronger.
Now there are two specific things that you absolutely need to do if you want to have great abs without exercising.
There is no getting around these, so do them and shut up. Or just don’t have great abs.
Figure out what activities you really like doing and do them with consistency and frequency, but do them with the balance in mind. So if you like to go for walks with your spouse, friend or dog, make sure it’s on uneven ground, you shift from sidewalk to gravel to grass and you climb a hill or two during your walk. When you are walking, make sure your posture is good. It doesn’t have to be great but be cognizant of your posture. Shoulders back, chest up. Breathing is to be a little labored but where you can still hold a conversation. While you are walking, time yourself. Every 60 seconds or so flex your stomach muscles. The movement is basically sucking your stomach in and pretending you are taking a shit.
If you like to play golf, walk the course doing the same thing. Flex your abs every 60-120 seconds. With golf, and really any activity that moves your body, you need to stretch or warm up the fascia, the white connective tissue that surrounds your muscle. I suck at tennis—well, I also suck at golf—but I try to play to keep my midsection strong. Turning at the hips with both sports helps keep the abs tight.
I also train in several martial arts and, let me tell you, just striking the heavy bag or shadowboxing is enough activity to keep your abs, shoulders, legs, and arms in shape. So find something you love (besides sitting on the couch doing nothing) that’ll make you move enough to work your abs.
Most importantly, you need to cut out all the bread—not carbs. Specifically, bread and all things bread-related.
I don’t give a shit if it’s gluten-free, sourdough or whole wheat—no bread. If it has a hint of grain, no Bueno. Anything bread-related.
I know I will hear the stupidity from a mile away asking, “What about pizza?” NO! “How about cupcakes?” Stupid idiot. “Maybe a pretzel?” F–k NO! This is my favorite: What about a hot dog or hamburger? Yes. Without the bun.
The problem with bread and related products is that they aren’t really a great source of carbohydrates. They’re a pain in the ass for the body to convert to glycogen (sugar/fuel for your brain and muscles), and all they do is irritate the shit out of your digestive system. I used to hear this all the time: “You need your fiber. Slices of bread have fiber that will help move your digestion along.”
Very, very far from the truth.
Grains, all kinds of grains actually, irritate your intestinal villi (little finger-like things that protrude from the intentional lining). Do me a favor and take a scrub brush from the cleaning closet and scrub your arm for a couple of seconds. Do you see how irritated your arm got? That’s what is happening to your villi when you are trying to digest bread and bread products. That irritation leads to inflammation that causes bloating, pain and prohibition of nutrient absorption. Once you quit eating all that f–king bread, you will see a significant transformation of your abs.