Is it possible to get a six pack in six weeks? Stephen McLean says six months is a more reasonable target

SOCIAL media is a constant that people cannot argue with these days. Regardless of which platform you use, at some point during the day you’ll find yourself on there to catch up with the rest of the world.

With fitness models posting photos of their food, supplements and six packs, they’re leading the general public astray with what is realistic.

It’s what you do in the next six months rather than the next six weeks that will see success.

Newton’s Third Law states: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Well it rings true with dieting too. If you drop a lot of weight very quickly through restriction and over exercising you have more risk of shooting back past your original starting point when you stop.

Weight loss is one scenario in life where the tale of the tortoise and the hare is perfect. Here are my six tips to six pack success in six months:

1.Too much all at once is a bad thing

January see’s the biggest overhaul with people changing their diet and increasing their gym routines simultaneously. The American Journal of Medicine states that 40 per cent of all diets fail within seven days, the next 20 per cent within two weeks and a further 20 per cent after four weeks.

Why? People try to do too much on day one. Instead try implementing small changes over time. List 12 things you’d like to do and implement one every two weeks and build up to 26 weeks of success.

Your list doesn’t have to be complex either, it could just be to increase water or exercise for 30 minutes three times a week.

2.Carbs – friend not foe

Too often we see a fitness guru spouting the evils of one food group and how if we eat it we’ll fail quickly. Currently, we’re going through the ‘carbohydrates are bad’ phase and previously it was ‘fat will give you a heart attack’.

The thing is, too much of either one can lead to health problems. Having the right balance with the right exercise plan will keep you nice and healthy along the way.

In our coaching at Team Paragon, we put a big emphasis on educating people around sustainable, healthy nutrition. We don’t advocate quick fixes and we certainly don’t demonise food groups.

With nutrition, everything has a cost. You just need to know how much your body needs before it becomes detrimental.

3.Tracking isn’t just for cowboys

Tracking what you eat is one method that works successfully with the majority of people. We have all of our clients track their food so that there are no hidden surprises with their nutrition. We forget about the little biscuit we had at lunch or the sugar in a cup of tea. Yet, all of these little things make a big difference and if you’re not counting them in your nutrition then you could be undoing all your hard work.

4.Setting a goal is useless without a plan to make it succeed

You could set a goal to take over the world and without breaking that plan down to smaller, actionable steps your goals tend to fail.Research has shown us that when we create our goals we need to set out the finer details to help keep our mind on them and allow small daily wins. Anything gained in life is about making small positive steps forward, daily.

5.We need cardio

Cardio is often given a bad reputation by the male population. Men should realise that having an efficient cardiovascular system will improve their performance in fitness and life.

Our cardiovascular system helps recover all of the other energy systems. Fat burning needs a healthy cardiovascular system for something called beta-oxidation but that’s far too complex and boring for this article. All you need to know is that you should do at least two sessions per week of high intensity interval training (HIIT) or three steady state low intensity (LISS) cardio sessions.

6.Exercise, diet or both?

Finally, some people don’t like to exercise and similarly some people don’t like to watch what they’re eating, but a 2015 study in the Journal of Diabetes & Metabolic Disorders found that exercise or diet alone was not as effective as both together.

The interesting part about the study was that the people who participated in both exercise and the diet group were found to have maintained their plan in month 12 whereas at months three and six many of the participants in the exercise or diet only groups had reverted back to normal and regained their weight.

The old saying goes “you can’t out exercise a bad diet”, so when you’re planning your 12-step action plan for success include both an improved exercise regime and healthy balanced nutrition plan.