Starting The Path To Six Pack Abs

Snuggled under the covers in a small apartment in Barcelona she whispered “which bucket list item are you dreading the most?” Taken back, I laid silent for a moment. I had never thought about that before. I mentally scanned my list and stopped on the most likely answer. “Getting a six pack”, I grimaced, “I hear you need to get to a inhumane body fat percentage of 10 or less.”

“What are you at right now?”, she said stroking my stomach.

“I don’t know but even in my best shape I have never dipped below 15%.”

It Starts

Two weeks ago I had my wisdom teeth removed and was forced to go on an all liquid diet. As my weight started to go down, I realized that I was feeling better physically (although the pain killers might have helped :-p). As I was forced to consider everything that I ate, my attitude toward diet made a noticeable shift.

A week ago I decided to face this bucket list item head on. It is not a physical victory I am looking for (I think I look fine and healthy) but instead a mental one. Diet and exercise are two of the hardest battles I have ever fought. They are also two of the most important for my happiness.

I have read extensively about people’s tips and tricks for perfect abs. I have talked to doctors, athletes, models and other physique experts and come to one simple conclusion.

I am mostly going to ignore everything people say about how to get perfect abs.

I am not looking for the perfect exercise technique or new drug. Instead I am going to go back to the basics. It might take me a while but I am confident that by ignoring shortcuts, I can achieve my goal.

The Simple Plan

  1. Set a finish line before I start
  2. Build up mental energy
  3. Make no exceptions
  4. Drink lots of water
  5. Eat mostly fruits and vegetables
  6. Exercise four days a week
  7. Plan for weak moments

That’s it. I am going to stick with the basics and focus on staying consistent. Ideally, I hope my plan is maintainable so that it becomes less of a strict diet and more of a lifestyle. Unfortunately, hope is not a solid game plan. For that, see below.

The Full Plan

Below are the full details of my plan:

Set a Finish Line Before I Start

One of my major priorities for this bucket list item is creating a plan that is slow and maintainable rather than fast and brutal. Getting 10% or less body fat literally requires starving yourself. I am not interested in doing this in the short term, I’d rather have a small surplus of burned calories rather than a magic technique that creates a spiking surplus.

From past experience, I know that it is easier to stick to a hard plan if you have an end point in mind. As such, I am planning an end date of July 3rd. After that date, I will evaluate my progress and decide on a next step. (I suspect it will be continuing the plan.) This also happens to be the time when I will be visiting Newport Beach, California. For those who haven’t been there, that city is inhabited by some of the most beautiful people in the world. It is ridiculous how good most people there look on the beach. I plan on using this event as mental fuel for when times get tough.

Build Up Mental Energy

Dieting and exercise are extremely difficult. While one part of the brain reminds you of the diet, the older root of your brain reminds you of hunger. Unfortunately, the older part of your brain is usually stronger. To combat this I am publishing this post in order build up positive peer pressure and I am giving myself two days of ramp up time. (a pre-diet if you will.)

Make No Exceptions

Every diet that fails, fails at the first exception.

“Eating a cookie is fine, I will just go running afterward.”
“Mayo on this won’t hurt me, I have earned it!”
“Skipping exercise today is no problem, I’ll just do it tomorrow.”
“I know I not supposed to eat rice but sushi is different!”

While these situations on their own are not likely to make a major impact, the precedence that they set absolutely will. I can only fail at a diet if I allow myself to make a first failure.

Drink A lot of Water


Every other morning I am going to slice up a lemon into four parts and put it into a liter water bottle. (I have found the lemon lasts two days before getting gross). I plan on taking the water bottle with me throughout most of my day.

Eat Mostly Fruits and Vegetables

I am sticking to a paleo diet. I don’t care about the fine details of the diet, all I am concerned about is eating simple foods that I can easily identify as being healthy.

My meals will include eggs and meat (low-fat sausage or something similar) for breakfast, salad for lunch, berries for snacks, beef or chicken with vegetables with a salad for dinner. I have found that the key to successful dieting is making sure that my meals are convenient to prepare and that the serving sizes are reasonable. Convenience and serving size are the quicksand of dieting.

To prevent any worries about not getting enough “xyz” vitamin/mineral, I will be taking 1-a-day multivitamins. Problem solved.

Exercise Four Days a Week

Sunday – 1.5 hours of Yoga
Monday – 1 hour of Crossfit
Wednesday – 1 hour of Crossfit
Friday – 1 hour of Crossfit

This will allow me to burn plenty of calories while allowing for my body to heal and rebuild between workouts. Remember, I am going for maintainability, not suicide.

Plan for Weak Moments

I am intentionally planning to take cheat meals. I am anticipating and planing these for dinners on Friday and breakfasts/lunch on Saturday. (I also have a short Chicago trip) Allowing these cheat meals will let me lose weight without being anti-social. It will also make it easier to deal with those moments when the craving for ice cream equal that of oxygen. :-)

That’s all there is to it. I’ll let you all know as I make progress.

While I still strongly believe in this framework for success, I feel that I need to note that this attempt failed. I succumbed to work pressure and lost my will power. That said, hope is not lost! I have a new, more drastic, plan that I am trying next. Details to come after I see results.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Ah, this is one that I did a little over a year ago and am doing again. This time around not so much for the six pack, but for the health and physical ability so I can continue playing rugby. Paleo and Crossfit are a great combination, if not a bit culty.
    Make sure you eat enough carbs to still build muscle, it’s counter-intuitive but the carbs you eat early to build muscle will make burning fat later much easier. My biggest concern with crossfit is I get overly competitive and always end up straining something.
    Good luck on this one!

    • Good to hear from you Spencer! :-) Sounds like you are repeating a smart decision :-)

      On a side note, I agree that Crossfit and Paleo are cult-like. That is my main reason for not talking about it much. I can’t argue with the results but I do wish people would stop talking about the WOD :-)

      Thanks for the tips on Carbs. Cheers bud!

  • I’m working on ticking off this bucket list item too. I’m doing the insanity workout. The dieting is the hardest bit!

    Good Luck mate!

  • Started eating clean about 2 weeks ago, no low sugar, low carbs…mainly protein and veggies with some complex carbs in morning. Wheat free oatmeal with protein powder and a couple of berries is a good one. I am working inside a private facebook group with a nutritionist taking images of all food, writing down activities and how I feel etc.. mostly for accountability. I was also introduced to The Gabriel Method – listening to his Cd’s as well to get in touch with the mental side of my we hang-on to weight etc.. interesting stuff if you youtube/google him.

    good Luck on the 6 packer

    • Sounds like a solid plan Jeff. I didn’t think about the facebook group idea. I might look into one of those. Best of luck with your life upgrade :-)

  • Abs seem like such a great idea until you realize that you need to eat like a caveman. In my journey from squishy to… well lets be honest “less squishy” I’ve found the best tool is a calorie counter. If you aren’t using one already I’d recommend My Fitness Pal. Really easy to use and it will keep you honest.

    Good luck Danny. And may the abs be with you!

    • That comment made me actually laugh out loud. Squishy is a much nicer word than I had been thinking for my gut. Congrats on your success thus far (it was nice witnessing Calin 2.0 in our last chat).

      Cheers bud :-)

  • John Cole

    Good luck on this Danny. It’s been 18 months since I finished my own 6 pack challenge and I’ve still got my 6 pack abs (despite a VERY light maintenance routine). Remember that once you lose the fat, you may or may not have a visible 6 pack (largely based on your genetics). If you’re like me and you can’t see it once you get <10% body fat, you'll need to do the challenging work of building that muscle up.

    I'm here to support you. Just call if you're feeling stuck. Look forward to seeing the before/after pictures! And who is the girl? Are you pulling a Tim Ferris on us? ;-)

    • I am really happy to hear that your hard work and strict efforts are still paying dividends. :-) I remember how much work you put into your transformation.

      Good tip on the muscles themselves. I’ll keep that in mind as my body fat % drops.

      Took photos this morning. I’ll post them at the end. Don’t need those ranking in Google Image Search unless they are accompanied by a much better looking twin :-p

      (Girl will remain unnamed but I sure do miss Spain :-p She will likely read this and can intro herself if she wants to)

  • Dan

    Good luck with this! I just started lifting weights a few weeks ago, before that I was (still am) doing a body-weight routine based on “Your Body is Your Gym” exercise system.

    Looking forward to seeing your follow up story/progress report!

  • Hey Danny,

    It seems we’ve all got your back on this one. Just buying a plane ticket and hitting another country is a far easier Bucket List item than this one.

    As per our interview mate, I’ve owned a bunch of PT studios in Oz for the last 20 years. So if you need any help, just ask. Definitely employ the 80/20 rule on this. Just be happy with 80% of your plan going right & relax on the other 20%. Don’t be a perfectionist. Also, try to really associate this mission to all the other benefits that you’ll get from trimming down, rather than just a 6 pack. It will provide a way stronger case for why you are doing & it’ll be harder to give up.

    Hey also, just got back from the Inca Trail & Macchu. Big ticks! Then travelled down to Argentina & ate at Don Julio’s. I did a vid for you while I was there. Keep posted for it to come out in the next couple of weeks. I’ll let you know. BEST STEAKS EVER!

    Cheers – Trav

    • Hey bud!

      First off, I am extremely jealous of your Don Julio meal :-p I freaking love that place (for others reading this, Don Julio’s is my favorite restaurant in the world. It is located in Buenos Aires.)

      Thanks for the tips. I’ll keep the other benefits in mind. That was something I hadn’t thought about.

      Glad to hear your South America trip went extremely well. Looking forward to seeing the videos.


  • Good luck, Danny!

    I’m sure you’ll get the best advice, but my $0.02…

    Workout: Plain old running 15 minutes a day like your girlfriend’s dad is after you with a shotgun will go a long way towards six packs, especially if you have fat to lose.

    Diet: Put a morsel in your mouth. If you like it, spit it out. If you don’t, eat it.

    Ego booster: Till you don’t get those abs, just tell everyone, “Oh I do keep a six pack inside my tummy, I’ll push it out one of these days…”


    All the best!

  • Hey Danny

    Good luck man! I struggle to get below 14% body fat myself so can appreciate what you are trying. All I can say is keep trying and you will get there…and that will be one more thing of the bucket list!

  • This was a nice post buddy, thanks for sharing the tips :)

    i am looking forward for it :)

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