Ask any gym and non-gym goer what the holy grail of fitness is, and at least 95% will come back with ‘Abs’. Because it is difficult to achieve and everyone loves to show it off, much literature has been published on the art and science of ab carving.
Unfortunately, few can say they are a combination of the following: fun, effective, expertly, resourceful, witty and simply Gold.
Enter, Gold’s Gym
It is of little wonder, then, that we sought out Chung Tze Khit, founder of Gold’s Gym Singapore and President of Personal Trainers’ Association of Singapore. Gold’s Gym is the fastest and biggest homegrown fitness franchise in Singapore, with a total of 12 outlets and a wellness spa opened in under 7 short years. Inside of the Tessensohn Road outlet we were shooting at, numerous media features of his fitness journey and success story blanketed a bulletin board.
Tze Khit also conducts courses at National Council on Strength & Fitness Singapore (NCSF) to certify aspiring personal trainers.
Such accolades, coupled with his 1.89-meters and nearly 90kg frame, might intimidate first-timers to personal training. But far from scaring you out the door, he immediately comes off a Bro Next Door type – effortlessly relaxed and unassuming, just as how abs training should be.
But getting abs is only the beginning. In order to sustain your hard work and maintain it, you’ll have to find a way to make it a little more enjoyable. The fun-ness? That the Seriously Man team will take care of.
We’ll let Tze Khit take care of the results part.
Abs Are Indeed Made In The Kitchen
There’s a reason why this pointer came first, and not because of alphabetical order. After debunking the spot reduction myth* to us, Tze Khit went on to underscore the importance of diet towards abs.
“Many people still think that exercise has priority over diet but that is untrue.” He used to be a huge stickler for the ketogenic diet before it started giving him rash breakouts – minimalising carbs and drinking olive oil to stave off temptations of junk food.
But he still advocates for a protein-rich diet from animal sources, lots of greens and good fats. “A real man is able to control food and not let food control him!”
*Repeating an isolation exercise to target a specific muscle e.g. doing crunches to reveal abs
So You Think Doing Ab Exercises Will Give You Abs?
Legend has it that Cristiano Ronaldo does 3,000 crunches a day to get himself looking like the World’s No. 1 Ab-bassador. It works for him because he’s, well, CR7. For us mortals, our genetic makeup is a little… different.
Tze Khit echoes the same sentiments: clocking in time on ab-specific exercises does not have a direct co-relation with that cheese-grating mid-section you had in mind. He pointed to compound lifts for a start when I asked him if there’s a more efficient exercise, or the oft-dropped clickbait of ‘six-pack shortcuts’ for time-starved professionals.
“I wish I had a shortcut for you, man, but I don’t. I’m sorry. I do see guys wasting time in the gym doing things that don’t produce the best results, such as working on the abs excessively or doing too much cardio. Focus on big compound lifts* for your major body parts. That’ll give you the best bang for your buck.”
*Start doing your squats, deadlifts and bench presses.
Don’t Sweat It, Really
I say this only because Tze Khit recounted an anecdote of a client who shat his pants during training. It’s a great metaphor for people who get too hung up over results, or the lack of it. Because ab building is more of a marathon than a sprint, the process should be reframed to be fun and delightful, not hard-grinding and disembowelling.
“Get yourself a training partner. Hire a personal trainer if you can’t find one. Go out and play sports you enjoy instead of running on the treadmill for an hour. Rally people around you to start a fitness movement. With social support, the journey becomes much easier,” Tze Khit advises.
“Any sport that has bouts of high-intensity intervals, like soccer or basketball, should work well to burn calories and possibly produce abs.”
OK, dude, I hear you. So you still crave for a ‘six-pack shortcut’ that has nothing to do with drugs or Photoshop. Fine, I’ll give you one that cuts as close as it can get, legally: get your significant other in on the action. (Or find one, that’s what dating apps are for.)
Aside from that 5 to 7 minutes of horizontal cardio I might have insinuated, Tze Khit recommends the following four couple exercises to whip your abs out without even leaving the bedroom.
Whoever said it’s exclusively made in the kitchen?
Workout A: Plank & Clap
Directions: Get down to plank position with your partner and face each other in head-on fashion. Maintain your posture as best as you can while you move only your hand out for the clap. Keep alternating hands to clap for 30 seconds and rest.
Workout B: Modified Glute Ham Raise
1. Get into an upright kneeling position with both feet together. Have your partner hold you down by the ankles or kneel on your feet. A resistance band should be wrapped around the both of you, as pictured.
2. Activating your core and hamstrings, allow yourself to fall forward slowly while maintaining the upright posture as before.
3. Go as low as you can. When you feel like you can no longer control the fall-forward inertia, or if you are about to faceplant the floor, put your hands out in front of you and collapse into a push-up position.
4. Push yourself off the floor and reverse yourself back into original position.
Workout C: Anti Rotation Hold
1. Stand up straight and face the same direction. Each person should be holding on to either handle of the band. Put some distance between yourselves.
2. The rest position should see both of you twisted to the side to face each other, and the resistance band should also be slack. Eye smirk optional.
3. Start the exercise by rotating back to face the front. The band should now be taut. Hold position for 30 seconds.
Workout D: Medicine Ball Crunch
1. Get into sit-up position and intertwine your legs.
2. Have your partner lightly toss the medicine ball over to you.
3. As soon as you catch, recline to perform a crunch and toss the medicine ball back as you come back up.
4. Your partner repeats the same movement. That’s 1 rep. Perform 12 to 15 per set.
Photography courtesy of @jentlemenphotography.