6-Pack Challenge – Week 4: Not a Success Nor a Failure
Technically, the 6-pack ab challenge isn’t over until two days from now. However, being the weekend, those are my off days from exercising. I doubt very little will change physically until that point. So I’m calling it. Challenge over! The number 1 question everyone is likely wondering is if I did indeed build 6-pack abs. The short answer, no I did not. However, there’s been a substantial increase in muscle mass in my core area and I’ve developed a 4-pack.
At the end of this post, I’ll show comparison shots from the beginning and end of the challenge. As expected, no real discernible differences are apparent between these images. It’s maddening as I really wanted to have something to show for this challenge of willpower and determination. It doesn’t help that I’m a hairy guy which I’m sure masks any subtle differences. I think the main issue is that I underestimated the difficulty of losing my remaining belly fat to reveal my abs.
If I place my hands on my stomach I absolutely feel a difference in firmness in that area. Although, that doesn’t translate to anything noticeable on the outside. For validation of this concern I’ve done research on Quora. Many of the answers confirm that body fat % needs to be addressed first and a healthy diet must be followed regularly to achieve those desired results. I was positive that intermittent fasting combined with low-calorie daily intake for a month would eliminate the rest of this belly fat. I was wrong.
Rationalizing the Stubborness of Remaining Body Fat
I have to wonder if I did more harm than good striving for such a low limitation for daily allotted calories. 1250 – 1300 sounded like a reasonable limit but according to lifesum, too few calories can stall metabolism. Plugging in my weight, height, and age in their app suggests I should be having close to 1,900 calories per day. That’s a big difference.
The good news is that I have lost several pounds since when I began the challenge. Just not as much as I had hoped for. It was a lot different than when I lost 18 pounds during my weight loss challenge for one month last summer. As I’m now learning, the reality is, it’s very hard to lose the final 10 pounds of fat. In fact, I’ve been struggling to do so since last summer. Most likely due to a combination of improper dieting and the occasional unhealthy eating habits no doubt!
Despite the fat issue, I feel stronger in my core and that’s because of those 50 ab wheel rolls as warm-ups (and in addition) to my 20-30 minute kettlebell exercising sessions every weekday. Hitting a low of 165 lbs a couple of days ago, I honestly don’t think I’m going to lose all that much more weight. I’m not intending to bulk up like some body-builder but I do expect overall muscle growth to continue. Although, I’m calling BS on those before and after photos of hairy guys all of a sudden having pristine and glistening bodies. I’ll always have plenty of hair where I don’t need or want it! hah.
Current Progress and Photos
As mentioned earlier, the photos taken from the beginning of the challenge compared to the ones at the end aren’t all that dissimilar. I’ve tried to spot some major differences from any angle; whether that’s front, back or side. Unfortunately, I can’t point to one area and say, “Wow, what a change!”. It could be wishful thinking but I swear I do notice some minor improvements looking in the mirror and in a certain light.
Of course, I had to do another jiggle test to see what, if any, changes occurred in my stomach section. It’s still part humiliating but I also can’t help laugh at how silly it is. Ironically, there seems to be more jiggle than before! Normally, I would think this to be a bad thing, however, it appears the skin is looser due to the several pounds I’ve lost. I’ll let you be the judge along with the other comparison photos to follow.
Exercise & Caloric Intake Information
Longer than usual workout sessions sum up the intensity of exercising for this week. Monday – Wednesday was a tough stretch with the average duration time being approximately 32 minutes. This included a taxing workout from the Caveman Inner Circle that had me struggling with using two uneven kettlebells. My plan is to get another 35 lb. kettlebell next month so that I can properly do double bell workouts and work on improving my technique.
As far as the calories consumed each day this week, I was all over the place. Some days I was a bit under my allotted intake and other days I went way over. This is perhaps the only aspect of the challenge that I regret. Being so focused on trying to lose weight, I wanted to meet the bare minimum for the energy I needed to sustain me. Now that I see all of these articles that say too few calories can lead to weight loss plateaus, it seems reasonable to suspect this was a major factor in causing my metabolism to slow down significantly. Going forward, I still will track my calories regularly but will allow for 700-800 more for daily consumption.
Weight: 171.2 lbs.
Calories Consumed: 1231
Workout: Skogg System – Ladders Level 3 (24 min.), 35 lb. kettlebell, Heart rate of 141 bpm average and 168 bpm peak.
Weight: 169.6 lbs.
Calories Consumed: 1357
Weight: 167.6 lbs
Calories Consumed: 1219
Weight: 167.0 lbs.
Calories Consumed: 1600
Workout: Chipper Workout – Caveman Inner Circle (31 min.), 35 lb. & 25 lb. kettlebell, Heart rate of 144 bpm average and 174 bpm peak.
Weight: 166.2 lbs
Calories Consumed: 1028
Workout: Manmaker Ladder Workout (38 min.), 45 lb. kettlebell, Heart rate of 148 bpm average and 173 bpm peak.
Weight: 165.0 lbs.
Calories Consumed: 1360
Workout: Skogg System – Ladders Level 4 (30 min.), 35 lb. kettlebell, Heart rate of 166 bpm average and 181 bpm peak.
Weight: 166.6 lbs
Calories Consumed: 1138
Workout: My Favorite Flow by Eric Leija (23 min.), 35 lb. kettlebell, Heart rate of 136 bpm average and 153 bpm peak.
Weight: 167.6 lbs
Calories Consumed: 1649
Workout: Skogg System – Intervals Level 2 (20 min.), 45 lb. & 35 lb. (snatches & high pulls) kettlebell, Heart rate of 144 bpm average and 169 bpm peak.
The emphasis this week for exercising was more about cardio and endurance than strength. I favored my 35 lb. kettlebell more frequently than I have in a long time. Lately, I’ve been getting fatigued when using the 45 lb. kb which has affected consistency with reps performed. Unlike in the past where I was able to move up to heavier-sized kettlebells in a few months, I’ve hit a wall with the 45 lb. kb. I suppose it’s my body’s way of telling me that technique must be perfected before even thinking about going with a 53 lb. kettlebell or heavier.
Physique After 4 Weeks
6-pack abs challenge – the beginning and end compared
Day 1 Jiggle Test
Day 30 Jiggle Test
As indicated above, these photos are from the beginning and the end of the 6-pack ab challenge. Perhaps someone with an exceptional eye for detail will notice some differences. I’m glad I did do the jiggle test because that’s about the only visual evidence that shows the progress of reducing my belly fat.
So what’s next? Even though I didn’t accomplish the ultimate goal I’m ready to declare that I’ve hit my weight loss goal! It’s been a long time coming and now that I’m working on building muscle mass, I’m not concerned with what my BMI % is. I absolutely still want to build a 6-pack, not for flaunting but rather as an overall indicator that I’m in peak physical shape. Since I want to move on to different goals like improving cardio, endurance, and mobility, it’s necessary that I eliminate any extra fat. Again, while this challenge wasn’t successful, I wouldn’t classify it as a failure. It was a learning experience of things that went right and things that need adjusting (low-calorie intake!).