What does it take to get those six-pack abs? A few lucky men and their trainers share the secret

Ever since Salman Khan appeared shirtless on the screen, men have had fantasies about having smoking six packs! From heroes to the villains in our films, everyone has flaunted their abs. ‘Just like Surya,’ they say, ‘Or like Vikram, who has come down to half his original weight for an upcoming movie.’ And now, even middle-aged men with a paunch dream of a sculpted body.

At 7 a.m., the Talwalkars Fitness centre in the city brims with men sweating it out. “All of them want a six pack,” says the trainer T. Suresh. “But, not all can work consistently towards it.” It’s like a penance, he says. Six meals a day that has no fat or sweet or any other unhealthy content; a rigorous workout regimen with dozens of squats and crunch exercises; deep sleep and a number of other dos and don’ts, can bring you a six pack in just six months time. Suresh lists them out in detail and one can’t help being amused at the amount of time, money and energy the ‘penance’ requires. But the number of people knocking on the gym, asking for the packs is only going up. Month-after-month, they still work towards it. Some get it in the stipulated six months, others take a year and more.

Says Prabhu, the trainer at Fit and Fine gym: “The most difficult thing about getting a six-pack is diet. Not many can follow it regularly. And even if they achieve the desired result they have to then maintain it, otherwise, the six-pack will disappear in few weeks.” Prabhu says he lost his envious abs after a few wedding feasts. “It was hardwork spanning two years and I lost it in two weeks. Now, I am trying to get it back,” he says. Unlike other fitness routines, the six-pack workout is equally difficult for thin and fat people. The thin need to gain mass before sculpting their body while the overweight need to reduce the fat content of the body to less than 10 per cent. “All of us have the six packs in our body. It’s hidden under the layer of fat which we get rid off when we gym regularly,” says Suresh.

There are over 100 types of ab crunches out of which any five are repeated through the workout module. “Initially, it can be highly painful. Some even get muscle cramps. But, once the body gets accustomed, it becomes easier,” says Prabhu. “Some bodybuilders use steroids to achieve quick results. However, it is not advisable as it has side effects.” S. Ranjith, a freelance web designer who has been working out for the past two years, beams, “I have forgotten rice and I survive on oats, chapatis and fruits. I have reduced my weight from 100 to 64 kilos.” He shows a ‘then and now’ picture of his and says, “I am almost there. A few months and I will have the packs.”

Regular gym goers say that determination matters the most. “There are always ups and downs in determination levels. Most people get caught up in work and business and lose the track of diet and workout,” says Vijay Karthikeyan, an IT professional. Rajarajan, a commercial pilot, says that he had to sacrifice his chocolate cravings to get to the goal. “It’s a weird craze. To be fit is one thing, but wanting a six pack is surreal.” Apart from being a much-fancied dream, six packs also seems to be a thing among men to impress girls. Kiran Ra, a banker hit the gym mainly to get more attention from his girl friend. “Being fit is a feel-good factor. But, being eye candy makes you feel great. The thought keeps me going. Motivation is the key to such rigorous fitness regimes,” he says.

J.H. Gouse Basha, an experienced fitness trainer recommends a protein-rich breakfast and lunch loaded with carbs. “Carbs have to be taken in measured quantities and shouldn’t be avoided completely. That would lead to fatigue and illness. Saturated fat should also be included in the meals in the form of fish liver oil and olive oil. The intake of sufficient water is vital, as otherwise the body might get dehydrated. Taking skimmed milk before bed time helps in avoiding muscle tear.” He prescribes half-an-hour of cardio training as part of the workout.

His trainee L. Sikkandhar Sulthan, a radio jockey, has got four out of the six elusive packs. “I have been working out regularly for the past 12 years. I have had six packs before. But due to work pressure, I could not maintain it properly,” says Sikkandhar. “Now, I have started to work towards it again. I want to enter the film industry and my inspiration to a sculpted body comes from there.”