Shredded Abs Year-Round: Is the Cost Worth It?
An overall unhealthy distortion of the bodybuilding lifestyle can be created in today's day and age of social media. Constant images of rock hard abs and sub 5% bodyfat are seen endlessly.
People get the perception that fit and healthy means being ready to step on stage year round. Although this may work for some individuals it is unsustainable both mentally and physically for the vast majority of people. Having abdominal muscles showing should not be the bane of existence nor the sole determining factor for success.
Ditch those abs and don't be afraid to add those few extra pounds?
Disclaimer: When I suggest adding some extra pounds while lean bulking during the off-season I am not saying to pack on a ton of excessive weight unnecessarily. I still recommend staying under 15% bodyfat year round. There is never an excuse for packing on the pounds without any additional muscle and/or strength gains.
Shredded Abs 24/7/365?
The Mental Cost of a Shredded Six PackMaintaining a bodyfat percentage in the 8-15% range year round can be accomplished while still leading a healthy and active social life. On the other hand keeping bodyfat consistently at lower levels requires extreme dedication and constant tracking of macronutrients.
Mentally it can be taxing to do this non-stop.
After all, we are all human beings that are meant to enjoy life. Once in a while we want that slice of cake, the piece of pie, or that second helping of macaroni and cheese. As motivated individuals that live, eat, and breathe the lifestyle we constantly walk the fine line between having a great physique and leading a full social/personal life. I'm not saying you have to choose one or the other. You don't have to have an all or nothing mentality.
Consistently focus on eating a diet that is micronutrient rich made up of 80-90% whole foods with the remainder of calories coming from "free" foods. Life is too short to have a perfect diet 100% of the time.
However, in today's day and age people struggle to find the middle ground as they are too strict to put some cheese on their omelet or they have an all-out YOLO eating style of consuming anything and everything. Most of your diet should be made up of healthy food and no logical person can stake any sort of claim in saying a Pop-tart is the same nutritionally as eating a large sweet potato.
The Physical Cost of Ripped AbsNot only can it be mentally taxing to be shredded year round but physically it can prevent strength and muscle goals. Whether you are natural, enhanced, or somewhere in between, you will not reach the epitome of your muscle goals without some mass.
You want to build new muscle mass? Good luck adding muscle without adding any weight. Trying to add muscle without weight is like trying to make your house bigger without adding any more bricks. Constantly being afraid of gaining weight will cause you to plateau quickly and have the same body forever.
If you have obtained the perfect body and are 100% perfectly happy with maintaining for the rest of your life congratulations. For the vast majority of people that truly live the lifestyle we aim to constantly improve always being the best versions of ourselves. The goal never dies regardless of how many barriers we overcome and accomplish.
Genetic limitations never get in the way of our goals. We don't care about how strong society says we can be. We don't make excuses. World records can be broken and the thirst for improvement will never be quenched.
The Personal Toll of Staying Ultra-LeanIf you live like a hermit or a recluse you may be perfectly satisfied leading a life of solitude and rigidity. You can maintain a great physique and still have an active social life, but in moderation.
Staying absolutely shredded to the bone requires perfect adherence and dedication. That means turning down that piece of birthday cake at your kids birthday, saying no to chips and salsa on Taco Tuesday, and kindly denying that glass of champagne to toast at your best friend's wedding.
Attempting to maintain that shredded look year round can be unhealthy, detrimental to your physical goals, as well as mentally taxing. Find that happy medium and in the long run you will reach more goals and lead a happier life mentally, physically, and socially.
Focus less on the perception given by social media and focus more on individual goal attainment. Instead of aiming for perfection strive for constant improvement in an imperfect world. Life is not perfect but by making small individual goals you will end up with positive results in the long-term.
Ditch those abs and embrace the flabs. Unless your career relies on maintaining abs of steel don't be afraid to let them go.
Abs: But why do you want to let me go?
You: This isn't good-bye..this is see you later (preferably by next summer when beach season comes around)