Lean machine

  • AmericaninOZ

    Posts: 19

    Jul 13, 2010 12:30 PM GMT
    Hey guys,
    See a lot of great discussion here, so thought I'd throw my question out there.

    I was always slim until my mid 20's when I suddenly discovered I actually had to work at keeping in shape. Prior to that I pretty much ate what I wanted to, and in college I was a dancer so I burned tons of calories. Once I realized dancing was not a career option for me, I started to have to pay attention to diet and began to work out and lift in the gym. Prior to about 23 or 24 I never lifted weights. I've worked a lot on my diet and weights and I've gotten a ton stronger but not much bigger. I know a lot of that is just to do with my general build and muscle type. I just seem to get harder and denser but not really bigger, which is fine.

    My question is, is there a secret to being lean without punishing myself? I've worked really hard and gotten my bodyfat way down. Last I was checked it was around 8.1% which is pretty low I thought. Not to mention I have really strong abs. No trainer yet has found an ab exercise I just can't do (some are more challenging than others but I can do them!). So, why can't I get my 6 pack abs showing and feel like I don't have to suck in at the pool or beach? I know any fitness plan is 85% diet, but I eat pretty healthy and then I see other guys who are completely ripped with apparently no visible fat on them chowin on burgers and beer and it makes me feel like ass... I don't want to live on lettuce, boiled chicken, and water ALL the time, but what can I do?

    Any suggestions lean men?
  • DCEric

    Posts: 3713

    Jul 13, 2010 12:41 PM GMT
    Heroin.

    Ok seriously. Yeah, it is probably your diet, or you are not doing enough cardio. That's really it you have to set it up so that your calories in is less than calories burned.

    The guys you are seeing probably are younger (so they burn more calories), haven't had a sip of beer or a shaving of chocolates in a decade, or are on some kind of hardcore supplements (like steroids).
  • AmericaninOZ

    Posts: 19

    Jul 13, 2010 1:03 PM GMT
    I work pretty hard on my diet. I try to avoid simple carbs like candy and sweets. Eat lean proteins and veggies, and try to keep blood sugar constant. I have a calorie tracker on my iphone, not perfect but it gives me an idea of what im doing. I am almost always under my daily calorie budget, but try not to go too far under so I don't induce a famine response.

    I Lift 3 - 4 days a week and do at least an hour of cardio the other 2-3 days a week.

    I see those Abercrombie guys chugging beers like there is no tomorrow! I don't want to compete with 22 year olds, its not fair to either of us, and you're right that I have no idea what else those guys are doing the rest of the time.

    thanks for the response DC!

    Any other suggestions guys? Any ancient chinese secrets you've discovered?

    What about Heart Rate? I know that I want it to be in a certain range according to my age and fitness level. The chart on the wall at the gym says I'll burn fat between 123 and 152 beats a minute, but I know that's a generalization based on average heartrates and maximums etc. I had a trainer before who said I had to hit 160 and maintain it. I've never been able to keep my heartrate over 150 for more than a minute or so, and that's going FULL OUT... My resting heart rate is pretty slow (57 beats per min) so does that mean I have to work harder to achieve any results?
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    Jul 13, 2010 3:45 PM GMT
    I ride my bike everywhere. To work, to my friend' houses, to rowing practice. Unless I need to go someplace nice, then I just take the subway so I'm not sweaty and stinky
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    Jul 13, 2010 3:54 PM GMT
    I'm curious to hear some other responses here. I kind of struggle with the same thing. Have you considered that maybe you're not taking in enough calories? I've read a lot about this and I constantly see the argument that if you don't take in enough calories your body actually slows your metabolism and stores fat because it thinks you're starving. The problem with this is that it's a huge mental hurdle, to eat more than you think you need, because you feel full and it makes you feel like a fat ass. The trick is to eat often so you're always fueling up, but not eating so much that you feel stuffed. Small, frequent quantities of proper natural food combined with a good workout routine SHOULD do the trick.

    All that said, I'm not flawless in practicing what I preach but I try really hard and I think I'm seeing some progress. No idea what my body fat is, but I think it's fairly low. Although... I don't have a lot of muscle bulk so there's still a ton of work to be done.

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    Jul 13, 2010 4:04 PM GMT
    DjDorchester saidI'm curious to hear some other responses here. I kind of struggle with the same thing. Have you considered that maybe you're not taking in enough calories? I've read a lot about this and I constantly see the argument that if you don't take in enough calories your body actually slows your metabolism and stores fat because it thinks you're starving. The problem with this is that it's a huge mental hurdle, to eat more than you think you need, because you feel full and it makes you feel like a fat ass. The trick is to eat often so you're always fueling up, but not eating so much that you feel stuffed. Small, frequent quantities of proper natural food combined with a good workout routine SHOULD do the trick.

    All that said, I'm not flawless in practicing what I preach but I try really hard and I think I'm seeing some progress. No idea what my body fat is, but I think it's fairly low. Although... I don't have a lot of muscle bulk so there's still a ton of work to be done.



    5 small meals, not 3 regular, dj
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    Jul 13, 2010 4:06 PM GMT
    Just a word of caution. Don't compare yourself to other guys. I've made the same mistake wishing I had the abs or lean body of someone I saw at the gym or club. ONLY to find out later that they were taking roids or doing coke/meth/heroin.

    You can only do so much. And genetics plays a HUGE role too.
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    Jul 13, 2010 4:17 PM GMT
    catfish5 saidJust a word of caution. Don't compare yourself to other guys. I've made the same mistake wishing I had the abs or lean body of someone I saw at the gym or club. ONLY to find out later that they were taking roids or doing coke/meth/heroin.

    You can only do so much. And genetics plays a HUGE role too.



    Good point. Especially since AmericaninOZ looks fantastic.

  • EricLA

    Posts: 3461

    Jul 13, 2010 6:43 PM GMT
    Some people never get a ripped body without a ton of work. Genetics can be unfair. I started working out at 28 because I was afraid I'd lose my great metabolism. I've been reasonably slim all my life, so I didn't want to lose it. 15 years later, I'm as slim as I was in high school. I have good abs, I think, but I don't have the washboard I had at times back then. Then again, I wasn't this buff overall in high school, either.

    What works for me and my body is eating reasonably healthy (chicken or turkey for the most part, fruits and vegetables, not very large portions of pasta and brown rice), but I don't deprive myself either (ice cream). I work out three times a week. It'll piss you off that I don't do a lot of cardio (sorry), but I do treat my weightlifting and working the machines as a bit of cardio by keeping breaks short between sets and exercises).
  • EricLA

    Posts: 3461

    Jul 13, 2010 6:43 PM GMT
    catfish5 saidJust a word of caution. Don't compare yourself to other guys. I've made the same mistake wishing I had the abs or lean body of someone I saw at the gym or club. ONLY to find out later that they were taking roids or doing coke/meth/heroin.

    You can only do so much. And genetics plays a HUGE role too.


    Sound advice.
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    Jul 13, 2010 7:16 PM GMT
    read up on the tabata protocol... the original one, not the crossfit adaptation (which makes it less intense regardless of what they say)

    Sounds like you´re in good enough shape: do that 2 times a week. Game over.

    And I have a bag full of abs stuff that you can´t do.. haha... I will destroy you icon_lol.gif
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    Jul 13, 2010 7:31 PM GMT
    Whatever you do, be consistent and know the limits of your body...adding variety will keep you from getting bored. Thats the only thing i have to tell you.
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    Jul 13, 2010 7:39 PM GMT
    Lostboy saidread up on the tabata protocol... the original one, not the crossfit adaptation (which makes it less intense regardless of what they say)

    Sounds like you´re in good enough shape: do that 2 times a week. Game over.


    I agree with Lostboy here. I also recommend trying to involve in other workout activities besides all your regiments at the gym. I happened to like crossfit as it did some wonders on me as a whole. So, I am bias here. Check out crossfit endurance for some sample workouts -- high intensity and it should burn some calories on your midsection.

    And just cut out all sugar in your diet -- get sugar from natural sources such as pure honey or fresh fruits.

    Good luck
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    Jul 13, 2010 8:01 PM GMT
    n2briefs2 said
    Lostboy saidread up on the tabata protocol... the original one, not the crossfit adaptation (which makes it less intense regardless of what they say)

    Sounds like you´re in good enough shape: do that 2 times a week. Game over.


    I agree with Lostboy here. I also recommend trying to involve in other workout activities besides all your regiments at the gym. I happened to like crossfit as it did some wonders on me as a whole. So, I am bias here. Check out crossfit endurance for some sample workouts -- high intensity and it should burn some calories on your midsection.

    And just cut out all sugar in your diet -- get sugar from natural sources such as pure honey or fresh fruits.

    Good luck


    I didn´t say, but hope it´s obvious. cut the rest of your cardio and just do tabata. There is nothing wrong with the crossfit stuff btw, but if you are doing 5 or 6 tabatas in a row you are doing them less intensely than the original plan. Those 4 minutes, if done properly, leave elite athletes spent and ready for the shower for the day.
  • nicelyproport...

    Posts: 573

    Jul 13, 2010 8:09 PM GMT
    I went from being a former fattie to having abs that strangers ask to feel up when I go running shirtless. What works for me might not work for you, and my physique might not be what you're after (check out the pics and decide for yourself), but here's what my regimen comprises:

    Diet:

    -- Lots of lean protein: chicken, fish, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt
    -- Lots of good carbs: whole grains, fresh fruit, steamed or stir-fried veggies
    -- No processed sugar or added fat

    Gym:

    -- Relatively light weights
    -- Lots of reps
    -- Full range of motion (in order to elongate as well as build the muscles)
    -- Focus on isolating each muscle
    -- Limited rest between sets
    -- Total number of days: 3
    -- Total workout time each day: about 70 minutes

    Cardio:

    -- A 5 to 8 mile run four times weekly for a total of 20-30 miles

    I suspect that the cardio and the diet have the most effect on the abdominal area.

    Good Luck!
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    Jul 13, 2010 8:11 PM GMT
    If u really want your abs to show, and you have such a low body fat, then start doing weighted crunches at least 3-4times a week with cardio and diet of course. anything that puts load on your muscle fiber....If u think about, your abs are just like any muscles on your body, like for example the biceps, the heavier your curl the bigger the muscle, the less, the toner they look....So try doing exercise that has weights include in it, i used to have that problem, but as you can see from my pic, my abs have shown, and i know its still work in progress, so keep doing weighted crunches, and many others..... Good luck mate!
  • AmericaninOZ

    Posts: 19

    Jul 14, 2010 8:05 AM GMT
    Lostboy saidread up on the tabata protocol... the original one, not the crossfit adaptation (which makes it less intense regardless of what they say)

    Sounds like you´re in good enough shape: do that 2 times a week. Game over.

    And I have a bag full of abs stuff that you can´t do.. haha... I will destroy you icon_lol.gif


    Read up on the Tabata Protocol ( I googled it ). There was an "intro" to try like a shorter version, which I did. It wasn't too hard, but it definitely got my HR up fast. Still didnt get anywhere near the 190 they recommend on the write up I found. Still don't really understand if my slow resting heartbeat actually means I have to work harder and get my HR up higher for longer to get results....

    As for abs stuff... I Love a challenge! Shoot some examples my way, and if I can't do it I'll totally owe you a virtual bj. JK, seriously I'd like to try whatever you've got, bring it on!
  • AmericaninOZ

    Posts: 19

    Jul 14, 2010 8:06 AM GMT
    FunStud91 saidIf u really want your abs to show, and you have such a low body fat, then start doing weighted crunches at least 3-4times a week with cardio and diet of course. anything that puts load on your muscle fiber....If u think about, your abs are just like any muscles on your body, like for example the biceps, the heavier your curl the bigger the muscle, the less, the toner they look....So try doing exercise that has weights include in it, i used to have that problem, but as you can see from my pic, my abs have shown, and i know its still work in progress, so keep doing weighted crunches, and many others..... Good luck mate!


    Oh yeah, did weighted crunches as well today... nothing yet icon_smile.gif
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    Jul 14, 2010 9:02 PM GMT
    I can empathize with your situation. Ive always had a lean body, and always had a six pack with minimal effort. But I've found that the older I got, the harder it became to keep the six pack. The fact is, unless you're part of that Genetic Lottery that awards you with Perfect Everything until you're 80, you'll just have to work harder at staying in shape as you age.

    Personally, I welcome the challenge icon_wink.gif.

    It's much easier for me to stand out as an older guy with an Exceptional body, than it would be for a younger guy with an average body. Older guys are expected to be out of shape, so when you defy that mold, you then become the Exception to the rule..
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    Jul 14, 2010 9:24 PM GMT
    n2briefs2 said
    Lostboy saidread And just cut out all sugar in your diet -- get sugar from natural sources such as pure honey or fresh fruits.

    Good luck


    I like this morsel of advice. I'm a teacher and I asked a colleague, just turned 40, how he keeps his trim waist. This is what he replied! No sugar!
    I don't know if I can do that right away, but I can certainly cut back.
    Also: I'm a huge milk drinker and I know I've picked up a lot of extra calories by drinking too much. Portion control is everything! In general, Americans eat/drink much too much!
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    Jul 14, 2010 9:40 PM GMT
    darius30 said
    n2briefs2 said
    Lostboy saidread And just cut out all sugar in your diet -- get sugar from natural sources such as pure honey or fresh fruits.

    Good luck


    I like this morsel of advice. I'm a teacher and I asked a colleague, just turned 40, how he keeps his trim waist. This is what he replied! No sugar!
    I don't know if I can do that right away, but I can certainly cut back.
    Also: I'm a huge milk drinker and I know I've picked up a lot of extra calories by drinking too much. Portion control is everything! In general, Americans eat/drink much too much!


    Listen to your smart teacher colleague! CUT SUGAR!

    Here's great CORE workout -- I used to do it after a long hard workout or even as a warm up routine. I think I need to do this again. Increase reps if 10 or 15 reps are too easy. This series of core work will definitely strengthen and define your core.

    http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/cms/article-detail.asp?articleid=486

    Good luck.