Note: Charles is here on a weekly basis to help you cut through the B.S. and get to the bottom of the biggest questions in health and training. Post your questions directly to Charles in the Breaking Muscle Forums.

 

Question #1: I Want a Flat Stomach

READER: I’m trying to get a flat stomach, but I’m scared to do specific exercises for it because I heard that first you’ll get the muscles under the fat thicker, which will increase waist size. I train my whole body three to four times a week, but my stomach still looks a little flabby. What am I doing wrong? Thanks!

 

abs, abdominal training, crunches

What role does abdominal exercise play when it comes to having a flat stomach?

 

CHARLES SAYS: For most people, I believe that ab training (sit ups, crunches, etc.) is “physique neutral,” meaning that it won’t appreciably lead to either a blocky waistline or a narrower one. A “flat stomach” is almost entirely a matter of losing unwanted body fat, which is, in turn, a matter of creating a mild energy deficit by moving more, eating less, or some combination of both.

 

Some still might argue, “What’s the harm in training abs?” And although I agree that some ab training isn’t the worst thing you can do, it’s also certainly not productive for at least a few different reasons:

 

  • Repeated trunk flexions may, over time, lead to lumbar disc injuries.
  • Time and effort on directed abdominal training would probably be better spent on activities that more directly lead to muscle hypertrophy and increased metabolism.

 

Now with all of that said, I’m not really a bodybuilding coach per se, so I’m sure there may be a legitimate use for direct ab work for already-lean athletes who are very close to a competition. But aside from that possible exception, I’d focus more on big exercises that tax large volume of muscle. Doing this, you’ll get leaner, and then your already existing abs will be easier to see.

 

Question #2: Maximum Fat Loss

READER: Realistically, how much could I lose in three months?

 

CHARLES SAYS: The better question would be, “How little could I lose in three months?” Attempting to lose bodyweight as quickly as possible tends to causes reductions in strength, lean body mass, anabolic hormone production, and metabolic rate, just to name a few things. In other words, it pisses your body off in a big way.

 

Dropping weight is best done through a process that a best-selling author calls “the law of the farm.” Like all biological processes, the human body doesn’t respond well to cramming or shortcuts.

 

 "[T]here’s a lesson in this for all of us - we’re all prone to self-delusion in one way or another."

I know this isn’t what you wanted to hear, but it is what you need to hear. Successful weight loss requires a willingness to delay gratification, and often for long periods of time. So go do that now and please write me back in six to nine months. 

 

Question #3: Paging Dr. WTF

READER: I went to the doctor for a checkup and the nurse asked me how I lost so much weight. I told her counting calories and lifting weights. She (weighing at least 300 pounds) told me that doesn’t work and cutting carbs is the only way to lose weight. My head nearly exploded! Sorry, not a question - just had to share.

 

CHARLES SAYS: Yep, that’s how it always happens, and there’s a lesson in this for all of us - we’re all prone to self-delusion in one way or another. Mind you, weight-loss advice isn’t automatically wrong just because it’s coming from a fat person. And conversely, weight-loss advice isn’t automatically correct just because it comes from a medical professional. The levels of irony here are deep indeed, so thanks for sharing.

 

This Week’s Training

Significant Lifts

 

  • Squat: 380x1
  • Bench Press: 260x1
  • Deadlift: 475x1

 

This Week’s Volume: 78,804 Pounds (Last Week: 70,604 Pounds)

 

This was the last week of pretty hard training prior to next week’s deload, which I am in definite need of before I break something. LOL

 

I was particularly happy with this week’s numbers, which included some very nice 1RM numbers on all three of the competitive lifts. If I can improve all three of those lifts by 5%, I’ll chalk up a new personal record for my competitive total in November.

 

Next week, the intensity stays high, but the volume comes down, and then on the following week, I’ll be making a few changes to my exercise menu in order to prevent accommodation to some of the drills I’ve been doing for a while now.

 

Thanks everyone - enjoy the videos and keep those questions coming!


Monday, June 1, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 202.4 Pounds

Volume: 18,715 Pounds

 

Power Snatch

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 65 lbs × 3
  • Set 4: 65 lbs × 3
  • Set 5: 95 lbs × 2
  • Set 6: 95 lbs × 2
  • Set 7: 115 lbs × 2
  • Set 8: 115 lbs × 2
  • Set 9: 125 lbs × 2
  • Set 10: 135 lbs × 2
  • Set 11: 145 lbs × 2
  • Set 12: 150 lbs × 1
  • Set 13: 135 lbs × 1 (Video Below)

 

 

Overhead Squat

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 45 lbs × 5

 

Squat

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 95 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 185 lbs × 3
  • Set 5: 225 lbs × 2
  • Set 6: 275 lbs × 1
  • Set 7: 315 lbs × 1
  • Set 8: 355 lbs × 1
  • Set 9: 380 lbs × 1 (Video Below)

 

 

High Bar Squat

  • Set 1: 135 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 225 lbs × 9
  • Set 3: 245 lbs × 7
  • Set 4: 245 lbs × 7
  • Set 5: 225 lbs × 5

 

45° Back Extension

  • Set 1: 130 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 130 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: 130 lbs × 10

 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 201 Pounds

Volume: 15,285 Pounds

 

Bench Press

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 95 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 185 lbs × 4
  • Set 5: 225 lbs × 2
  • Set 6: 245 lbs × 1
  • Set 7: 255 lbs × 1
  • Set 8: 260 lbs × 1
  • Set 9: 225 lbs × 4

 

Incline Dumbbell Press

  • Set 1: 100 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 120 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 130 lbs × 8
  • Set 4: 150 lbs × 6

 

Seated Row

  • Set 1: 150 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 150 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 150 lbs × 8
  • Set 4: 150 lbs × 8

 

Bicep Curl (Dumbbell)

  • Set 1: 80 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 80 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 80 lbs × 8
  • Set 4: 80 lbs × 8

 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 200.4 Pounds

Volume: 26,047 Pounds

 

Clean and Jerk

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 65 lbs × 3
  • Set 3: 65 lbs × 3
  • Set 4: 95 lbs × 2
  • Set 5: 95 lbs × 2
  • Set 6: 115 lbs × 2
  • Set 7: 115 lbs × 2
  • Set 8: 135 lbs × 1
  • Set 9: 135 lbs × 1
  • Set 10: 135 lbs × 1
  • Set 11: 145 lbs × 1
  • Set 12: 155 lbs × 1

 

Deadlift

  • Set 1: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 225 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 315 lbs × 3
  • Set 5: 365 lbs × 1
  • Set 6: 405 lbs × 1
  • Set 7: 445 lbs × 1
  • Set 8: 475 lbs × 1 

 

Trap Bar Deadlift

  • Set 1: 225 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 315 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 315 lbs × 8
  • Set 4: 315 lbs × 5

 

Back Extension

  • Set 1: +130 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: +130 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: +130 lbs × 10

 

Friday, June 5, 2015, 6:00 AM

 

Free Workout

 

Bodyweight: 200 Pounds

Volume: 18,757 Pounds

 

Military Press

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 65 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 95 lbs × 7
  • Set 4: 95 lbs × 7
  • Set 5: 95 lbs × 7
  • Set 6: 95 lbs × 7
  • Set 7: 95 lbs × 7

 

Bench Press (Dumbbell)

  • Set 1: 145 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 145 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 160 lbs × 8
  • Set 4: 177 lbs × 8
  • Set 5: 177 lbs × 8

 

Chin Up

  • Set 1: 1 reps
  • Set 2: 2 reps
  • Set 3: 3 reps
  • Set 4: 4 reps
  • Set 5: 5 reps
  • Set 6: 6 reps
  • Set 7: 7 reps

 

Bicep Curl (Dumbbell)

  • Set 1: 70 lbs × 12
  • Set 2: 70 lbs × 12
  • Set 3: 70 lbs × 12

 

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Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.

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