Pec-tacular: Pecs improve, abs don't

SANDUSKY Well, here we are again ladies and gents. About three months after our last conversation an
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

SANDUSKY

Well, here we are again ladies and gents. About three months after our last conversation and I'm still not the ripped male specimen I'd like to be, but I am a little stronger.

As we discussed in our last column, my focus is not on losing weight, but on building muscle and getting lean. That means cutting my body fat percentage in half, not my pounds.

YMCA trainer Cheryl Yancey, who tracks my measurements and gives workout advice, was impressed with my progress, and I am too, considering I've only been lifting weights and haven't done much cardio.

I lost about four pounds, which isn't anything big. My weight fluctuates between 190-210 pounds all the time. But my body fat went down by more than 2 percent, which surprised me. That's because I've always been better at exercise than dieting.

It's all about eating small meals throughout the day -- six to eight times a day to be precise. I'm told this stimulates fat burning, but it's not as easy as it would seem -- especially when you're trying to force down cans of tuna without mayonnaise or even bread.

I swear, I don't know how lifters do it. I've read articles about how you're supposed to eat four eggs in the morning, drink a protein shake in between meals, eat four cans of tuna twice a day, a steak for dinner and another couple of protein snacks and meals before going to bed.

Not only does it make me gag, but it gets expensive, which I couldn't afford even if the Register wasn't paying me $1 million to write this column. Kidding, of course.

On the other side of the coin, there's the exercise. I have been focusing totally on heavy weight training, neglecting the cardio I desperately need to burn the gut I picked up in college.

Surprisingly, it seems to have paid off as my bench press has gone up 25 pounds and my chest grew 2 inches, which I still can't believe.

They say to increase power, you have to do more weight with less reps and more sets. This seems to have worked for me, but not as quickly as I wanted.

But my biggest weaknesses, in my opinion, are abs and my lower body. I've got OK-looking chest, shoulders and arms, and pretty good upper body strength, but my abs and lower back, or my core as they say in the gym, needs work.

I've got relatively weak legs, too, especially my calves, which makes squats and leg presses vital, but challenging.

I have fallen into that trap many guys do where I care more about the upper body than the lower body. But I've talked to some pretty picky females over the years who say they like a guy to have nice legs as well as a ripped torso.

But squats are so painful and put so much strain on your whole body. Lifters, however, tell me it's the most important exercise when it comes to increasing your total strength. It can even improve your bench.

Nevertheless, I bench almost as much as I squat so I need to work on that. I realized my obsession with bench pressing when I started picking up dumbbells, like 80-95 pounds, that I could bench press in sets of six to eight reps, but I could barely pick up because the rest of my body is so relatively weak. Pretty pathetic.

Overall, if this column was about keeping pecs or keeping triceps, I'd be on a roll. But it's called keeping abs and it's about getting lean, not just bigger, so that will be the focus the next few months, cutting up, not just getting bigger and stronger.