How to achieve a visible six pack abs: Vijay Thakkar

crop10_240x240_4thoct14Vijay Thakkar is an expert in Exercise and Nutrition Science. He conducts corporate fitness training workshops and also imparts the same to many high flying individuals and professionals based on their lifestyle and nutritional needs. Vijay has been quoted on many occasions for breaking various existing but non-scientific myths about exercise science and nutrition to help many individuals achieve great fitness and endure that lifestyle.

Vijay holds many international qualifications in Exercise Science, Strength and Conditioning, Sports Training and Nutrition Counselling. In fact, he is one of the first ones from India to hold such international credits.

Vijay Thakkar answered Sify readers’ queries related to the above in an exclusive chat. Read the transcript below.

Should white rice be completely avoided for dinner after evening workout?
Hi Jignal, based on your fitness goal you may choose to have white rice post your intense workout sessions. However, I would recommend that you stick to consuming fibrous sources of carbohydrates such as green leafy vegetable, and you may choose to have brown rice sparingly..

What is the right time of the day to have protein diet?
Hi Jignal, proteins are essential and the need to be divided equally and consumed throughout the day. You can however, increase the quantities of the protein that you consume in and around your workout time by 10% of the quantity of that you consume per meal!

I am a vegan and do have chana for my protein intake. What else should I add inmy diet for right amount of protein intake?
Hi Jignal, dietary protein are made up of several amino acids. Our body needs all the amino acids to functional optimally, repair and grow lean mass, and produce many hormones and enzymes. Chana unfortunately is classified as second class proteins because it lacks many of the essential amino acids which necessarily have to be provided to the body through dietary measures, by including animal proteins which are classified as first class proteins because they possess all the essential amino acids in them in the right quantities. Therefore, it is important that you largely consider your daily protein intake and quantify them as per the first class proteins you consume from dairy products such as paneer, curd, milk and whey protein supplements.. As an active individual, you should at least consume 2gms of first class proteins per kg of your body weight..

I really feel exhausted after workouts asI usually exercise in the evenings after work. How to increase my energy levels Mr.Vijay?
Hi Jignal, you need to first assess the reason for your exhaustion! The causes are multiple and they range from mental stress to hormonal and/or nutrient deficiency in your body. You first need to consult a physician and find out the root cause of your exhaustion and then based up the result of the diagnosis, devise a plan or strategy to overcome the problem!

What is more impactful in reducing weight? Right exercise or diet control? What all food should I avoid?
Hi Nilesh Gupta, I’ve replied to this query previously in this chat..

hello Sir, I want to understand how much role diet plays in body building in comparison to workouts
Daily exercising gives your body the stimulus for change and nutrition helps your fitness to grow! Therefore, both things are equally important for building and maintaining a lean, fit and youthful body!

There are many misconceptions related to gym workouts, like being fat from being muscular after stopping gym exercises. Please share your opinion on the many misconceptions.
Hi Garjan, As long as you are adjusting you calories intake to your activitie/inactivity levels, the body fat that you will put on due to going on a a sedentary lifestyle will be limited. However, I would encourage you to be active and take out time to adhere to your exercise and diet regime as these things are important to promote your health and wellness. Also, an active lifestyle will keep you away from diseases that is caused by hypokinesia!

What is the right time for rest in between exercises?
Hi Garjan, in your weight training sessions your rest time should vary from 2 to 5 minutes between sets depending on the exercise performed and it’s intensity. The more the exercise is intense and/or recruits your larger muscle groups, the more rest you would need between your sets..

Is brisk walking more effective for fat loss or jogging?
Hi Garjan, I’ve replied to your query in the chat..

Hello Sir. Does increase in heart rate while exercising stimulates our metabolism?
Hi Garjan, Jogging would certainly be better than brisk walking not only from a fat loss perspective, but by jogging (instead of brisk walking) you will also built a stronger heart by increasing your cardio intensity to jogging..

What dietary changes and recommendations are given while on a schedule to achieve six pack abs Sir? Thank you.
Hi Tannay, with regards to the exercise I would highly recommend you to perform full body exercises involving your body’s larger muscle groups such as the chest, back, legs and core. This will ensure a higher excessive post exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). In your workouts, maintain a repetition range of 6-12 repetitions per set per exercise. With dietary intake, maintain your caloric intake as per your activity levels, age, height and gender. The food calories consumed by you should be in the ratio of 35:40:25 of carbohydrates:proteins:fats calorie. I would recommend that you consume fibrous carbohydrates, first-class proteins and essential fatty acids in your diet to achieve lesser body fat and six pack abs..

I need your guidance on how can one achieve six pack abs?
Hi Tannay, you can achieve 6 packs abs by following a good exercise regime and nutrition plan. Infact, everyone of us naturally has the 6 pack abs since it is one of the components of our core muscles which functions to stabilize the torso. When our body fat level starts dropping and goes below 15% of our total body weight, the abdominal muscles (the rectus abdominis) starts becoming more visible because the layer of subcutaneous fat which is more superficial to the rectus abdominis muscle and sits right above it, starts to reduce in size. That is how you achieve a “visible” six pack abs!

Hi Mr.Thakkar, I want to know what is the difference between doing workout with free weights from workout with weight machines?
Free weight exercises recruits your joint and core stabilizers, whilst working the muscle around the joint. Whereas, in selectorized strength machines, since the pathway of the movement is predefined by the construct of the machine, it purely works on the muscle group in question and does not enable stabalizer recruitment of the joint. My recommendation would be to mostly work with free weights and make it your first preference while exercising.

And how often should one increase or decrease the repetitions? How does this differ?
Hi Navistha, the query has been replied previously..

How often should one increase weights while gym training? How does this differ?
Hi Navistha, its a subjective call. Depending on your goals and objective of training you may take a call on increasing the weights that you lift. As a general protocol if your goal is to gain body strength you should increase the weight you are lifting once you are able to comfortably perform 6 repetitions per set..

My trainer had once told me that doing crunches immediately after a cardio exercise (15mins) helps in losing fat over abs. Is this right?
Hi Navistha, Crunches work on your abdominal muscles (mainly the rectus adbominus). To burn body fat, however, you need to focus on working your other muscles too which as the muscles of the torso (chest, core and back) and working on the muscles in appendicular skeleton such as the arms and shoulders. Along with your cardio and abs sessions, if you train your aforementioned body parts regularly, that would certainly help you burning your body fat, including the fat over your abs!

No one in my family has ever had a flat stomach. Is this genetic?
Hi Navistha,the fat in the body is regulated through your genetic make up, diet and exercise regime. You cannot influence the former, however, though eating the right food and by following a sound exercise regime you can keep keep fat gains at bay. Focus on cardiovascular training 3 times in a week and 2 times of strength training in the week to encourage the growth of lean mass will help you to burn body fat!

Some fitness trainers recommend supplements to build body. What is your opinion on that?
If your diet and whole food is providing you with all the requisite nutrients, consuming supplements are not necessary. However, if any of the macro- or micro- nutrient is lacking in your body and you are not able to get it from your diet, you may supplement in your diet through the dietary supplements available in the market!

I am a male aged 47 yrs. I have never joined a gym or exercised till date. Only used to swimming once in a while. My doc has advised me to start exercising and join a gym. I have a stiff body. please advise how to begin?
There are two reasons because of which your body can get stiff; i) when your soft tissues are overly tensed (tissue trauma) or ii) you are not performing enough flexibility work. Depending on the reason for the stiffness, you can take advise from your instructor on how you should be taking your regime forward..

Pl tell me which physical activities can be done for weight loss, if one cannot go to a gymnasium regularly?
Hi Ruchi, indulge in bodyweight exercises which as push ups, chin ups, surya namaskar, squats, lunges, etc. For the given diet, you would be able to achieve fat loss if you regularly perform these bodyweight exercises at home..

I am on a 10kg weight loss programme.Whenever I discontinue exercising for a few days, I gain back the lost weight. How to prevent this?
Hi Ruchi, ensure that your daily calories intake is matching your lifestyle! Strictly avoid consuming junk food during the time that you are discontinuing your exercise regime. You would be able to prevent gaining fat during the times that you have stopped exercising..

How often should one change his or her exercise pattern , does our body gets used to certain exercises and thus stop responding?
Hi Ruchi, factors that influences exercise intensities are speed, range of motion, repetitions, distance and poundage. To ensure that the exercise programme is having a positive impact on your fitness levels, it is important to change these factors to realize fitness gains in the longer term. However, one should follow a workout programme for at least 4 weeks to 8 weeks before a change in any of the factors is considered..

Sometimes I get sore muscles after my workout especially after I get up next morning. Why does this happen? Hope its not causing any harm.
Hi Lakshaa, sore muscles are a byproduct of leading a physically active life-style! It cannot be avioded, however, you should ensure that you are taking right steps into your pre-habilitation work such as using powerbands and foam rollers before working out, and a sound exercise programme is adhered by you which is based upon the scientific principles of exercise programming as they are vital tools to keep you away from soft tissue injuries..

does surya namaskars help lose weght?
Hi Nishli, Surya namaskar is a great body-weight exercise which reinforces a good and stable position for your shoulder and hip joint. However, you should perform other body-weight exercises too; such as crunches, squats, lunges, burpees, mountain climbers, etc. to ensure that you are taking care of your overall body and also burning body fat by working up all core and larger muscles groups of the body..

My trainer often says that building muscle mass helps in fat burn. But I am also worried of looking muscular after weight training. Pl guide.
Hi Prabothi, lean mass is important to maintain a youthful body. Attaining greater lean mass keeps you in shape and it also helps in improving your basal metabolic rate which is important from a fat loss perspective. So, you should follow your trainer’s recommendation and start building muscle mass..

I am 27yrs female. Go to gym 3-4 times a week. Exercise for atleast 1 hour. I am very fond of cardio vascular exercises and do not like weight training. Is weight training very essential?
Hi Prabothi, it’s very good that you train your cardiovascular regularly, but performing weight training activity is also important! You achieve a stronger heart through your cardiovascular training, but your skeletal muscle only gets its fair share of work when you subject it to produce force to move weights. So, while you should continue your cardio sessions, I would highly recommend that you also spend some time performing strength training.

How many mins of warm ups do you advise before weight training exercises?
Hi Devan, depending on the bodypart workout the warm up time may range from 3 minutes to 15 minutes. On the days you are doing arms, shoulders, you should spend around 7-8 minutes warming up the cardiovascular system and joints. However, when you have scheduled a chest, back, legs workout, you should spend atleast 15 minutes in warming up the cardiovascular system and joints.

crop8_240x240_4thoct14How is it to sip fruit juices in between exercises?
Fruit jucies are rich in Glucose (faster acting carbohydrates) & Fructose (slower acting carbohydrates). Consuming slower acting carbohydrates are not generally recommended to be consumed during your workout session. However, you can opt for an electrolyte drink to ensure that you are optimally hydrated throughout the session of your workout..

How different is exercising in the morning from exercising in the evening in terms to result?
Hi Devan, it’s insignificant what time you schedule your workouts. It’s important that you workout daily, irrespective of the session scheduled in morning or evening. Ensure whatever time you get in the day to workout, you should workout.. You will certainly get results..

As I am a vegan and aspiring athlete, what is necessary to be included in my daily diet?
Hi Maanav, as a vegan athlete it is important that you consume first class source of protein through the day coming from dairy products. So, you can consume paneer, milk, curd and whey protein to ensure that you are getting your requisite amount of protein to recover from your exercise sessions. Also include slow absorbing carbohydrates pre workout/pre- sporting event and fibrous carbohydrates throughout the day. Including omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids in your diet will be important too to ensure you perform optimally in your sport.

And what about stretches, they should be done before or after workout?
Hi Sayaali, basic classification of stretching is dynamic & static stretches. Performing dynamic stretching is important pre-workout and static stretches post-workout.

I usually workout for 30 mins dailyto maintain my weight, combining cardio and weights.Pl tell me which is better first, cardio or weights?
Doing Cardiovascular exercise before weight training is recommended to ensure you are sufficiently warmed up for your strength training session.

What is the right method to consume water during exercise?
Water is essential for good health. The right way to consume water is to equally distribute its consumption through out the day. However, during exercise it is important that one consumes 500 ml of water every half an hour..

Is it really necessary to join a gym to lose weight? What if we do not have time to join a gym?
Hi Kinnari, the answer really depends on your fitness goals. If you have access to good fitness accessories and jogging tracks, and your goals are to stay active, the set up would suffice the need. However, if you want to achieve superior fitness, you would need access to a commercial gym to achieve that goal!

Hello… please give some advise on how to maintain a flat stomach? I am 30yrs female, 5.4″ height, weight- 59kgs.
Maintaining a flat stomach requires one to exercise daily with compound movements and eat sources of first class proteins and fibrous carbohydrates and good fats acids under the calories limit. For a female of your age and height needs to be at a body weight of 55 kgs with 20% body fat.