There comes a time in every man’s life when he looks in the mirror and an older reflection stares back. “For me, it happened when I turned 40,” says Gregg Avedon, 52, a certified personal trainer and the author of Muscle Chow: More Than 150 Easy-to-Follow Recipes to Burn Fat and Feed Your Muscles and The 14 Day Get Lean Diet: A Nutrition Plan that Works!.
“I didn’t feel old, but I realized I had a few things working against me: My metabolism was slowing, my testosterone was waning, and it was becoming harder to gain muscle and lose fat.” In short, Father Time was tightening his grip. So Avedon fought back. “I started dialing in certain aspects of my life to rebalance the things that mattered most.” Here’s how he did it. And for more great workout tips, here’re the 4 Best Abs Workouts for Getting That Summer Six-Pack.
Gregg Avedon; photo by Scott Teitler
“The first thing I did when I turned 40 was get a blood test to gauge my testosterone levels,” says Avedon. “That gave me a baseline I could use to monitor the effectiveness of the changes I was making.” To increase his testosterone, Avedon began augmenting his diet with two supplements: Tribulus terrestris and DIM. “Tribulus terrestris boosts testosterone production, while DIM decreases estrogen,” he says. “After six weeks, my testosterone levels doubled and I felt more energetic.” If you’re curious about boosting your T-levels, be sure to read our comprehensive guide on the matter.
Much of Avedon’s modeling success can be boiled down to one core attribute: six-pack abs. “Do I have a secret for building a ripped midsection?” asks Avedon. “Yes, I do: hanging leg raises.” Crunches and sit-ups focus on the upper abs, whereas hanging leg raises work the entire abdominal area, accelerating muscle gain. “I combine them with lying leg raises, because those target that hard-to- get lower-abs area,” he says. “They’re the first two exercises I do when I hit the gym: three sets of 30 reps each.” And if lean abs are what you want—they are—check out the four exercises that will have you shredded by summer.
“The average person has 80,000 thoughts a day, and about 60 percent of them are negative,” says Avedon. “That’s a recipe for stress, which increases cortisol, which, in turn, promotes the storage of fat.” To combat anxiety, Avedon meditates. “Sitting and focusing on my breathing for 10 minutes a day calms my mind and energizes my body.” If 10 minutes doesn’t cut it, be sure to check out the 24-hour guide to beating back stress.
“People know what foods they should avoid, but they lack an effective strategy to act on that knowledge,” says Avedon. “So let me give you one tip: Take your worst dietary habit and cut it in half.” If you eat four slices of pizza twice a week, for example, start eating four slices once a week, or two slices twice a week. “Just making that one change will cause you to lose weight, gain energy, and form a mind-set toward achieving your best body,” says Avedon.
Healthy eating isn’t about denying yourself, it’s about making smart choices. “Rather than having a chocolate cake for dessert, for example, mix a scoop of chocolate whey protein into a cup of low-fat yogurt,” suggests Avedon. “You’ll satisfy your sweet craving with a quarter of the calories and 10 times the protein.”
“Beauty sleep is not a misnomer,” says Avedon. “I try to go to bed and wake up at the same times every day, even on weekends. I also prepare my body for sleep by eating a cup of cottage cheese. The calcium boosts melatonin production, and the casein protein preserves lean muscle tissue until I ‘break fast’ when I wake up.” And if a good eight hours is what you crave, be sure to read up on the the 10 pill-free ways to get a good night’s.
Avedon puts six rubber bands on his left wrist every morning and takes one off every time he drinks a 16-ounce bottle of water. “Make sure the water is chilled,” he says. Cold water elevates metabolism for more than an hour. Incidentally, drinking water is one of the 30 ways to boost your metabolism after you hit 30.
“To rev my metabolism, I reduced my carb intake,” says Avedon. First, he ate more lean meat and fibrous carbs (fruits and vegetables) for several days. Next, he fasted for three days, drinking only freshly pressed juice. Finally, he went back to solid food, but eliminated simple carbs for 14 days–no pasta, no potatoes, no rice, no starches of any kind. Period. “My diet is now about 50 percent carbs, 30 percent protein, and 20 percent healthy fats.” And if you want to copy Avedon, make sure that 50 percent consists of carbs that are excellent for making your abs lean.
As a model, Avedon has tried thousands of hair-styling products, but his favorite is surprising: water-soluble Jergens hand lotion, scented with a drop of essential oil.
“My emphasis has shifted from power lifting to body shaping, ” says Avedon. “I’m going for tone, not bulk, so I focus more on my core, but still challenge myself with weights. Ultimately, it’s not rocket science. You have to be consistent and work out at least three times a week.” And if you need that extra push to get to the gym, be sure to check out the 11 ways smart men motivate themselves to work out.
Gregg Avedon; photo by Scott Teitler
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