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Ask Live Hard: getting ripped and cooking shirtless

Written by joelsnape
[Ed’s note: Ask Live Hard is a semi-regular column where I address questions from readers. If you’d like some advice that’ll probably include ‘Deadlift more’ or ‘Stop being a baby’ you can contact me here or here]

I love cycling, as it gets my arms and legs toned while I enjoy myself and get fit and go places. But it does nothing for my core, which is all flabby and still has the remnants of manboobs from when I used to drink shitloads as a coping mechanism.

Is there an activity that will exercise and tone my core as a sort of fortunate side effect, in a similar way to how bracing while cycling up endless hills has finally given me buff arms? I know you’re going to say “swimming” but I hate it and don’t want to have to get naked.

Jonas, via email

I’ve got good news, Jonas: there are several things I’d recommend, and none of them involves being even semi-naked – unless you want to start cooking your bacon without a shirt on, which I find adds a dangerous frisson that’s often missing from breakfast time. They are, in no particular order:

  • Shopping
  • Cooking
  • Sleeping
  • Playing with dogs

To explain: if you already do a fair amount of exercise, more exercise is probably not what you need to shed bodyfat. What you actually need is to invest more time and energy in cooking and eating better, so that you aren’t at the mercy of ready-meals that are packed with sugar, refined carbs, trans fats and other nasty crap. Keep cycling: but instead of working out, resolve to spend 30 minutes a week loading up on meat, veg and fruit – and another hour or so cooking it all into protein and veg-heavy meals.

Done that? Okay, part two: stored bodyfat around the abdomen is often a symptom that you’re awash with the stress hormone cortisol, which means that you could use more, better sleep, and less stress in your life. There are lots of ways to do this, some of which I’ve detailed here. But it’s also worth noting that just calming down can sometimes get you in better shape. There’s a reason I’ve got a six-pack in many of my holiday photos, and it’s not that I stick to some sort of insane diet when there are caipirinhas to drink at 11am and all-you-can-eat steak restaurants to bankrupt – it’s that I calm down, my stress hormones level off, and my body stops storing fat as if it’s expecting an apocalyptic meltdown. No holidays planned? Hug your girlfriend. Pat a dog. Go for a walk. Remember that in ten years you’ll barely remember what’s stressing you out today, and that in a hundred years you’ll be dust. And watch the bodyfat drop off.

About the author


Editor and creator of Live Hard. Fighting enthusiast, steak lover and aficionado of all things self-improvement related.

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