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I have recently joined a gym, and I wanted to build both the abdomen (6-8 packs) and upper body (chest and shoulders). I have used a gym two years back. I have the following questions:

  1. How I distribute my exercises both daily or alternatively?
  2. Is it necessary for me to run before doing this? I am jogging 3 kms on a treadmill. Is this too little or too much?
  3. I am not fat but have gained some flab over time. I am 27 and weigh 72 kg (158.7 lbs).
  4. Breathing patterns for each of them.
  5. Few good exercises for each of them.
  6. Is it okay to drink soda-aerated water/lemonade after the exercise?
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You're asking a lot of things here. I suggest editing your question to focus on one thing first and then create new questions as they come along. Be as specific as you can. You'll get a better answer tailored for your question than asking a broad and vague one. –  Matt Chan May 10 '12 at 12:49
    
I agree with @MattChan. You're asking for a complete exercise and diet program tailored to your stated goals of getting bigger abs, chest, and shoulders. –  user3085 May 10 '12 at 18:03
    
I'm closing this question for now. Don't take it as a personal attack. It is merely a sign to improve the question so that it is more narrow and focused and fits within the Q&A model of Stack Exchange. I encourage editing the question, and reopening it is trivial once it has been improved to a better state. –  Matt Chan May 11 '12 at 1:45
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closed as not a real question by Matt Chan May 11 '12 at 1:45

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

2 Answers

Getting muscle definition (including the coveted 6-pack) requires reducing your body fat percentage. How that's done is generally two things - eating right and strength training (generally either lifting heavy or doing advanced bodyweight exercises).

Most sources I've found say that you do not need to run to achieve this. However, 3km isn't much, so it probably serves as a decent warm-up/cool-down (additionally, cardio is good for the heart). Whether you drop it or not will be up to you.

There are a number of programs out there that you can do to build strength. Pick one that appeals to you and that you can stick with ("the best program is the one you can stick to"). Here are some resources/options to get you started:

  • New Rules of Lifting (weight lifting, book)
  • Starting Strength (weight lifting, book)
  • StrongLifts 5x5 (powerlifting, website; I, personally, like and recommend this one)
  • You Are Your Own Gym (bodyweight strength training, book)
  • Convict Conditioning (bodyweight strength training, book)
  • Beast Skills (bodyweight strength training, website)
  • Never Gymless (bodyweight strength training, book)
  • Crossfit (as I understand it, High-Intensity Interval Training, with some weights; group program)

Most of these programs will have either a 3x/week plan (ie - full body, three days a week, with 1-2 rest days in between), or a rotating 5-6x/week (ie - upper body M-W-F, lower body T-Th-S, day off completely on Sunday). Rest days are important! You're "breaking down" your muscles when you work out, and building them bigger and stronger when resting (the act of lifting creates microtears, resting rebuilds those and makes those parts stronger).

Keep in mind, too, that getting the 6-pack is considered "80% diet." That is, what you eat matters, especially once you're body fat percentage gets down close to and into the single digits.

Some tips:

  • Be careful of things like lemonade, as they tend to have a lot of sugar in them. The same goes with Gatorade and whatnot. If you're working out to the point where you need electrolyte replacement, consider making your own.
  • Eat clean. The more whole foods you eat, the more nutrients you'll get. If you can do things like get your animal products from free-range, grass fed animals, even better (beef from grass fed cows has more Omega-3s and nutrients all around).
  • Experiment with your diet. Some people can't tolerate gluten (wheat/cereal products), and gluten intolerance can lead to stomach bloat, even if not other symptoms occur. It might be worth cutting out grain-based carbs to see how you react, especially if your BF% is low and you're not getting definition. The Paleo diet can be a good guide for this, even if you don't follow it completely.
  • Eat lots of protein. I've seen it vary somewhat depending on source, but the consensus I've seen is 1g per pound of body weight.
  • Don't be afraid of fats. Dietary fat does not directly make you fat. Eating more calories than you burn is what makes you fat. The macronutrient numbers I've seen are generally around a 30/30/30 split of carbs, fats, and protein, which adjustments generally being in favor of fats and proteins, depending on individual needs.
  • Don't get hung up on the scale. Use it to help determine your body fat percentage, if necessary, but ignore the scale otherwise. Strength training usually results in gaining weight, but lowering BF%, so BF% is what matters. Body fat percentage measurements can be hit or miss, in general, but according to this article, a cheap and easy way is to measure yourself. I personally use this calculator to get an estimate and keep track. Like the scale, though, don't get hung up on the individual numbers. Monitor the trend to make sure you're going in the right direction.
  • Track your food. There is often a big difference between what you think you're eating and what you're actually eating, both in amount and in nutrition content. Sign up at a tracker like MyFitnessPal or Livestrong's Daily Plate to make sure you're on track.
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You seem to "get it". Good answer. I particularly like how you didn't recommend cardio necessarily and also quality whole foods. –  Mike S May 18 '12 at 3:31
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Abs + Upperbody simultaneously. That sounds like a job for "body-wieght" exercises. Bod-wieght exercises are exactly what they sound like. They use your body, for weight, instead of other external weights. To acheive the abs+upper at the same time, many of these exercises are done while hanging via a pull-up bar.

Body-weight exercises are very tough, and you may actually have to do some other things for a while before you can manage to do body-weight efficiently. But here are some example exercises

  1. Push-ups

  2. Pull-ups

    • variation: Hanging. You need tons of endurance to hand from a pull up bar for the other exercises
  3. Hanging Leg Raises

    • variation: Knees up then kick
    • variation: Legs straight, and bring to 90 degrees
  4. (Hanging) Body Curls

    • This is like back in elementary school where you would "flip" by passing your feet through your arms. Instead of flipping, you STOP at the top.
  5. (Hanging) Body V's http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnMO_VNVfEE (but more controlled)

  6. Windshield wipers

  7. Skyscrapers

    • getting into windshield wiper position, and the push your feet and but up vertically, then in a controlled manner come back down to windshield wiper position.

Enjoy!

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