Wednesday, November 30, 2016

How To Get A Lean Strong Waist


That’s a snapshot of my waist this morning.  It measures about 31.5 inches in circumference.  Here’s what I’m doing to keep it lean and make it progressively stronger:

First, to get and stay lean I eat a whole foods plant-based macrobiotic diet consisting of whole grains, legumes, seasonal vegetables (mostly cooked), sea vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.  I haven’t eaten any animal flesh, milk or eggs for 5 years. 

Many cuts of animal flesh are calorie-dense,  so it is easy to over consume calories when eating meat liberally.  In addition, eating animal protein can increase your insulin response to meals to favor fat storage.

You don’t have to completely eliminate animal products to get or stay lean, but limiting animal food consumption to a maximum of 15% of calories will help you get and stay lean.  If you eat animal products, we recommend wild or sustainably farmed fish or poultry as the best choice.  This chart from my book Essential Macrobiotics shows how much lean animal flesh constitutes 15% of calories at various calorie intake levels.
Note that I suggest this as the upper limit for animal protein intake based on research (discussed in Essential Macrobiotics) indicating that adverse effects of animal protein consumption may occur when animal protein exceeds 10% of total calories. 

Second, I fast for roughly 16 hours every day, and only two meals daily both within an 8 hour feeding window.  I eat a large breakfast, generally between 8 and 10 a.m., and another meal between 2 and 4 p.m. 

In my book Intermittent Fasting I discuss research that suggests that if you want to get lean, it is best to eat a most of your food early in the day, as food eaten late in the day triggers lipid storage mechanisms favoring body fat gain, insulin resistance, and elevated blood lipids.  This same research indicates that most people feel less hunger and more satiety when they eat more of their food in the early part of the day rather than in the evening. 

Diet is the key to getting a lean waist.  Resistance training is the key to getting a strong waist.  You should train the waist musculature with progressive resistance.  You can train the waist fully with 2-4 exercises.  For full training your routine needs to include each of these movements once or twice weekly.

 Waist flexion for the rectus abdominus
 Waist extension for the erector spinae
 Waist rotation for the obliques

Here's an example of how I have fit the waist-strengthening exercises (in bold) into my full-body routines.

Day 1
  1.  Handstand holds
  2.  Hollow body holds (rectus abdominis)
  3.  Shoulder bridge (erector spinae)
  4.  Weighted Cossack squats
  5.  Weighted supinated chin-ups 
  6.  Dips in L-sit  (rectus abdominis)
  7.  Ring rows
  8.  Windshield wipers (rectus abdominis and obliques)
  9.  "Jefferson curl" deadlift  (erector spinae)
Day 2
  1.  Feet-supported crane pose
  2.  Straddle V-ups (rectus abdominis)
  3.  Shoulder bridge (erector spinae)
  4.  Weighted Cossack squats
  5.  Chin-ups in L-sit (rectus abdominis)
  6.  Weighted dips
  7.  Ring rows
  8.  Twisting back extension (erector spinae and obliques)
  9.  "Jefferson curl" deadlift  (erector spinae)
In these routines, the Jefferson curl deadlift is done with a very light weight for improving mobility and flexibility.


I do only one set per exercise, training to fatigue or close to it.   Day 1 involves 3 direct sets for the rectus abdominis, 2 direct sets for the erector spinae, and 1 direct set for the obliques.  Bear in mind that the obliques are also trained indirectly in all movements for the rectus abdominis.  Day 2 involves 3 direct sets for the erector spinae, 2 for the rectus abdominis, and 1 for the obliques. 


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