The Top Fat Loss Secrets for Flat Six-Pack Abs and a Lean Stomach
an interview with Mike Geary – Certified Nutrition Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer
I had the pleasure of being interviewed recently by a fitness professional from NYC, Certified Personal Trainer, Geovanni Derice.
The interview is below and I think you’re going to like it…
I reveal some of the hardest hitting strategies for getting rid of that stubborn stomach fat to uncover those flat six pack abs that everyone wants.
Geovanni Derice: Welcome Mike to our 4-ever-Toned Fitness Journal. For those who do not know you, please tell us a few things about yourself and how you can help our readers with their fitness and health.
Mike Geary: Thanks for having me, Geo. Well, to go back a little, I have been heavily involved in fitness and sports for about 20 years now, ever since I was a teenager.
Being involved in sports in high school got me interested in strength training and conditioning.
At that point, once I started feeling more energetic, getting stronger, and looking better, I was instantly hooked for life. I’m 36 now and still addicted to the way living a healthy and fit lifestyle makes me feel energetic, confident, strong, and youthful on a daily basis.
I decided earlier in my 20’s that I wanted to make the commitment to help other people experience the excitement of being fit and getting in the best shape of their lives, especially since we’ve reached an epidemic of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, depression, etc.
That’s why I became a fitness professional. It just gives me so much satisfaction to help others, who have struggled for years to get in good shape, and show them that it can be done, and it can be fun in the process.
I’ve expanded over the years from just reaching local individuals with personal training, into being able to help people all over the globe achieve their fitness goals with the reach of the internet. I only hope that my passion for fitness inspires people to take action and improve how they look and feel for life.
Geovanni Derice: Now Mike, there’s so many things out there as to what works and what does not work… if you had to pick 3 things that work time and time again to get flat lean abs, what would they be?
Mike Geary: The first and most important thing to get control of in order to lose your belly fat and get flat abs is cleaning up your diet. Exercise is important, but your diet is king when it comes to losing body fat so that you can see your abs.
There’s so much confusion these days about what a healthy diet that promotes fat loss really is… after all, we are bombarded by conflicting messages in the media about what is healthy and what is not, and you have all of these gimmicky diet books about low carb, low fat, high protein, vegetarian, fasting, atkins, south beach, liquid diets, and hundreds more.
There’s so much conflicting info, that the average consumer doesn’t even know where to start when it comes to eating for fat loss.
The second thing that works time and time again, is to focus on the intensity of your workouts and focus on working the body as a whole in order to get the best metabolic response to lose that stubborn stomach fat.
In order to really get lean, the workouts should have a high intensity, with short rest periods, working the largest muscle groups of the body, instead of trying to isolate specific small muscles like the biceps, triceps, or calves.
For the third thing, let’s talk about actually training the abs specifically. When it comes to training the abs, if you want real results, I always recommend forgetting about the crunches and situps for the most part.
They are ok for someone that is really deconditioned, but most people that already have some training under their belt need a much better stimulus for their abs than crunches. Crunches are one of the abs exercises that actually provide the least amount of resistance, and remember that resistance is what develops and tones the muscles.
I provide a ton of great abs exercises in my book, but one of THE highest resistance exercises for the abs, is hanging leg raises (but NOT the way you see most people at the gym doing them).
The key to doing these and actually working the hell out of your abs is to curl your pelvis up as you raise your legs. Almost nobody ever does this right. To be honest, the majority of people cannot do this at first, but I provide some strategies in my book as to how to progress to doing these correctly.
Geovanni Derice: What are people doing wrong when it comes to developing the coveted “6 pack abs”?
Mike Geary: Well Geo, I know this sounds funny to most people, but the MAIN thing that people are doing wrong to get those flat 6-pack abs is… are you ready for this?
They spend entirely too much time focusing on training their abs! WAY too much time spent on abs exercises. Sounds crazy, but it’s true.
Remember, having a flat and visible six pack of abs is all about getting down to a low body fat percentage. In order to do that, your workouts must focus on stimulating a fat burning hormonal environment in your body, and increasing your metabolic rate. That just does not happen when you focus too much time training a small muscle group like the abs.
Instead, you must use the majority of your time focusing on training the largest muscle groups of the body like the legs, back, and chest. That’s what stimulates your metabolism and the fat burning hormones that will get you truly lean and sporting a flat sixxer!
Geovanni Derice: Which exercises are the top exercises that people need to do if they are to get maximum defintion with their midsection?
Mike Geary: When it comes to developing the abs themselves, I again refer to any kinds of hanging abs exercises, as well as some good floor abs exercises like lying leg thrusts (all described and illustrated in my book).
However, maximum definition in the abs and midsection comes from losing bodyfat, and the most effective exercises featured in my program for that goal are various forms of swings and snatches (unique dumbbell or kettlebell exercises that almost nobody ever does in normal gyms), squats, deadlifts, lunges, step-ups, clean & presses, mountain climbers, sprinting, and other full body exercises and calisthenics. If you want great looking flat abs, focus on those instead of focusing so much on training the abs directly!
Geovanni Derice: When it comes to diet Mike, people really have tried millions of ways to get one thing… and that is fat loss. What recommendations have you used to successfully help your clients lose body fat and keep it off?
Mike Geary: I have included a fully comprehensive discussion of this topic in my book, which accounts for almost half of the book, but I’ll try to make some nice simple generalizations to get people started on the right path immediately.
The most important thing is that your diet is as natural and unprocessed as possible. It almost always comes back to the overprocessing of food that makes it unhealthy, and makes it totally wreck your metabolism and hormone balance in your body.
For example, why eat refined grains, when you can eat sprouted whole grains (keep in mind that I usually recommend strictly limiting grain-based foods overall for best results due to the problems with antinutrients and gluten in grains which are inflammatory).
Why eat refined sugar, when you can get natural sources of sugar from a high nutrient whole food like fruit. Why eat highly processed, refined, and hydrogenated vegetable oils (these are THE worst thing in the modern diet), when you can eat natural sources of healthy fats like nuts, avocados, fish, eggs, coconut milk, organically raised meat, and so forth.
The point is to not fall for some gimmick like extremely low carbs (although I do believe in a fairly reduced carb intake as that is a big problem for most people), low fat, super high protein, or any other combination that has you focusing on one macronutrient vs. another.
Your body needs all macronutrients to thrive and obtain a variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc. Trying to cut an entire food group out just works against what your body needs. I get into much more detail on this vitally important topic towards losing body fat (especially that stubborn stomach fat) for life in my book.
Geovanni Derice: Thank you very much Mike for sharing with us all of this great information.
Mike Geary: Well, I hope you enjoyed this interview and plucked several nuggets of info to get you motivated and started on showing off your flat abs shortly. If you don’t already own a copy, be sure to pick up a copy of my Truth about Six Packs Abs book and discover the entire system I’ve developed for ridding yourself of that extra ab fat for good!
Video Review: The Six Pack Abs Guide by Mike Geary
Strategies You MUST Know if You Ever Want to Stand a Chance of Getting a Flat Stomach with Six Pack Abs
by Mike Geary, author – The Truth about Six Pack Abs, interviewed by Craig Ballantyne – CSCS, Men’s Health Magazine Training Advisor
Below is an interview that I did with world-famous trainer and Men’s Health Magazine Training Advisor, Craig Ballantyne as he grilled me on the top secrets for fat loss and six pack abs. Check it out…
Craig Ballantyne: Mike, give us a brief background about yourself
Mike Geary: Sure Craig. Well, I’m currently a Certified Nutrition Specialist and a Certified Personal Trainer. I’ve been dedicated to improving my knowledge of fitness, both training techniques and nutrition aspects, for over 15 years now, and I never stop trying to learn more each and every day. I’ve also been a contributing writer for Muscle & Fitness Hers Magazine, and I’m the author of the popular internationally-selling book, “The Truth about Six Pack Abs” which has had hundreds of thousands of readers in over 150 countries currently.
I just love helping people with this area of their lives, as not only does it improve their outward appearance and confidence, but more importantly, improves how they feel and their internal health, helping them to live longer and healthier lives. It’s something I’m very passionate about.
Common Mistakes in Training Washboard Abs
Craig Ballantyne: Okay, so where does the average man or woman go wrong when it comes to training abs?
Mike Geary: Ok, most people are probably going to be surprised with this answer. In their quest for ‘six pack abs’, the biggest mistake I see people making is wasting WAY too much of their time training their abs directly… pumping away with all kinds of different abs-specific exercises.
I’m sure you know what I’m referring to. The person is trying so hard to get those abs to show, that they’re spending almost all of their time in the gym with hundreds of reps of various crunches, leg raises, twisting exercises, etc.
Meanwhile, all of that wasted time directly training the abs could have been better spent on a properly designed full body workout program that would elicit a much better metabolic response and increase the fat-burning hormone levels in their body as well.
After all, losing the stomach fat that is covering the abs is the MOST important aspect for most people to finally be able to make their abs visible. Unfortunately, pumping away with hundreds of crunches and leg raises does NOT cause much of a metabolic or fat burning hormonal response. This is the main focus of my Truth about Six Packs Abs e-book… full body training programs and proper nutrition to strip off that stubborn belly fat and reveal the six pack that’s hiding underneath!
Of course it wouldn’t be a six pack abs book if I didn’t focus on ab development too, but I make sure firstly that the most important concepts for lasting body fat reduction are understood.
Craig Ballantyne: Do you see any gender differences in mistakes they make? And more importantly, do you see any gender differences in the response to various types of ab training?
Mike Geary: To be honest, I don’t really see any need for men or women to train differently. Bottom line… the best exercises are the best exercises regardless of gender.
However, in regards to mistakes I see between genders… Yes, I tend to see women more often are deathly afraid to use weight training with anything but really light weights.
That is a shame, because THE most effective way to gain control over your body fat for life, is to maximize your lean muscle that your body carries, as well as working that muscle hard through intense resistance exercise regularly.
It’s important for women to realize that regular strength training using heavier resistance will NOT “bulk them up” (as long as caloric intake is controlled), but rather is one of the key secrets for losing body fat and staying lean year-round.
As a matter of fact, some of the leanest females that I’ve trained over the years are the ones that aren’t afraid to work hard with the weights.
I also notice that most women (and a lot of guys too) spend way too much time with slow cardio exercise. This is simply not necessary, and the way I combine high intensity resistance training into full body routines provides enough of a “cardio” workout in itself usually. We’ll get back to this in a minute though.
Training Washboard Abs: the School Sit-ups
Craig Ballantyne: What about ol’ school sit-ups? Do you use these? Are they good, bad, or does it “depend”?
Mike Geary: Sit-ups are a controversial topic. I don’t think they’re good or bad per se, but rather “in between”. I didn’t include them in my program. I simply don’t feel they are necessary, and I think there are much more effective abs exercises to focus on. Personally, I almost never do sit-ups except occasionally for a little variety every now and then.
Craig Ballantyne: Give us a weekly sample ab training program. How many days per week? What are a couple of the best exercises you’d pick? How many sets? Reps? Rest?
Mike Geary: Well, first I’d like to point out that the full body movements that make up the majority of my programs indirectly work the abs and the entire “core” area to a fairly decent extent. However, I do include abs-specific exercises into the routines generally about twice per week. The “abs-specific” portion of the workouts generally only take about 5 minutes at most with very little rest between exercises.
Once people are past the beginning phase of gaining some initial ab strength, I try to get them away from the exercises that are too easy, where someone can do 50 or 100 reps, as is frequently common with standard crunches. Instead, I like to focus on higher resistance exercises that actually stimulate the muscle fibers to a much greater degree. One example of a higher resistance abs exercise is hanging leg raises with a proper “pelvic curl up”.
It’s funny but usually someone that has been wasting so much time with hundreds of reps of crunches can usually only do a few solid reps when they first attempt some of these higher resistance exercises. We also make sure not to neglect some rotational movements, as well as some work for the deeper muscles like the transversus abdominis.
Craig Ballantyne: What do you use for burning fat, intervals or slow cardio? Or both? Any gender differences here? Or differences between fitness levels (beginner vs. advanced)?
Mike Geary: In most cases, my answer is definitely intervals… or as I like to call it “variable intensity training”. In general, I think slow steady pace cardio is a waste of time, especially if the goal is lasting fat loss.
I think people need to get away from this thinking about “fat burning zones” and calories burned during the actual workout, and look at the bigger picture of what you’re doing in your workout to stimulate the greatest metabolic response in your body… and the best metabolic and hormonal response is achieved through variable intensity training and strength training, not slow steady-pace cardio.
Now I will say that if someone is really deconditioned and can’t handle higher intensity exercise routines just yet, this still doesn’t mean that they can’t simply use lower intensity routines, but still use it in a “variable intensity” fashion, by alternating between higher and lower exertion levels throughout the workout.
Top Secret Nutrition Tips for Washboard Abs
Craig Ballantyne: And finally Mike, 1 or 2 of your top secret nutrition tips for carving out those six pack abs. Open your vault of info!
Mike Geary: Well Craig, I think you’d agree that there has never been a more confusing time regarding proper nutrition for consumers. Every so called “expert” out there seems to disagree and contradict each other on what’s the best way to eat for fat loss and overall good health.
One of the most important messages I try to teach my readers in this world of heavy confusion is that your diet doesn’t need to conform to any of the fad diets… you don’t need to go “low carb” or “low fat”, or high or low anything for that matter to be successful in losing enough body fat to get lean enough to be able to see your abs.
I like to try to simplify things for my readers. I think that balance is the key to success along with eating a diet that is made up of nutrient dense foods in their natural state (as unprocessed as possible).
In general, it is the heavy processing of foods that makes it wreak havoc inside our bodies. Most foods in their natural unprocessed state are inherently good for us. Of course there are always exceptions… a salad of poison ivy leaves is “natural and unprocessed” but certainly would not be good for us!
More Aspects of Nutrition for Training Washboard Abs
I’ll leave your readers with a couple of the most important aspects of nutrition that help to get you lean for life…
1. Get enough quality protein in the daily diet – not only does it have a higher thermic effect than carbs and fat (so you burn more calories digesting it), but it also creates satiety so your hunger is satisfied longer.
Plus it’s a building block for maintaining and building lean muscle… And remember that the amount of lean muscle you carry is one of the main factors for controlling your metabolism.
2. Think fiber! When it comes to carbs, make sure that almost all of your carbohydrate intake is from higher fiber sources like vegetables, fruits, and high fiber unrefined grains. Try to avoid refined sugars and refined grains as that is one of the main reasons so many people struggle with body fat.
I personally don’t eat many grains as I prefer to get most of my carbs from veggies and fruits, but I do use sprouted grain breads fairly regularly too.
I generally recommend looking for carbohydrate sources that have at least 2-3 grams of fiber per each 10 grams of total carbs. Remember that fiber helps fill you up and also slows down the glycemic response of the foods you eat, all beneficial for getting lean.
3. Don’t be afraid to eat fat! Many people try to go way too low on their fat intake and this can negatively affect hormone levels in your body as well as causing more cravings. Try to eat enough healthy fats daily.
Good sources are all nuts and seeds, nut butters, avocados, olive oil, organic meats and eggs, coconuts and virgin coconut oil. On that note, saturated fats from tropical oils are VERY misunderstood, even by many nutritionists and other health professionals.
Yes they are composed highly of saturated fats, but are actually beneficial (but that’s way beyond the scope of this article).
4. Avoid the two worst things in our food supply at ALL COSTS:
- artificial trans fats from margarines, shortening, and hydrogenated oils that are in most processed foods and deep fried foods
- high fructose corn syrup, which is in almost all sweetened products on the market
Again, if you avoid processed foods, it becomes easy to avoid these two worst offenders in our food supply.
I always contend that once you get a handle on these 4 main points of your diet detailed above, the rest starts to take care of itself as you gain control over your appetite, blood sugar levels, hormone levels, etc. It all falls into place, and you eventually gain total control over how lean you want to get.
Craig Ballantyne: Thanks Mike! Check out the results that some of Mike’s readers from over 160 countries are getting using the Truth about Six Pack Abs program