The Workout That Helped This 42-Year-Old Build A Six-Pack | Men's Health Magazine Australia

The Workout That Helped This 42-Year-Old Build A Six-Pack

Eric Falstrault was never really in bad shape.

As a gym owner, he’s worked in the fitness industry for the past 20 years. To be a good example to his clients, he’s always tried to practice what he preached.

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The 42-year-old Canadian has always kept up a fairly steady routine of strength training, with the occasional bout of martial arts. Last November, though, things started to go downhill after a holiday in Mexico left him with a stomach bug, leaving him out of action for a couple of weeks. Before he knew it, the holidays came through in full force, packed with indulgences and even more excuses to ignore his daily workouts.

He could see and feel the difference. Falstrault’s weight was tipping the scale at 90kg and his body fat percentage spiked to 23 per cent, leaving him with a small gut. He had no energy, felt depressed, and just didn’t like the way he looked.

“I was fed up with how I felt. So I decided to do something about it,” he says.

“I cut out the packaged foods I was eating, like cookies, and I cut back from two glasses of wine a night to one,” he explains. Currently, he chows down on lots of protein and vegetables throughout the the day. 

The other major change that helped him drop down to 13 per cent body fat and 85kg six months later? A new workout.

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Falstrault was always into fighting and martial arts. He’s been practicing a variety of martial arts workouts for the past 12 years, but he knew he needed to do something more challenging than what he had been doing before—something different, he says.

“Challenging” was the only word that came to mind when Falstrault first tried Brazilian jiu-jitsu about 10 years ago. It was both physically and mentally demanding, and that’s the exact change of pace he was looking for.

His memory served him right. After only six months of practicing Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Falstrault is not only back in shape, but his energy levels are higher and he’s sleeping better. 

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A typical jiu-jitsu class begins up with 10 to 15 minutes of warm-ups, which consists of footwork, arm pummeling and sprawls—moves commonly used in the sparring part of class. The next 30 to 40 minutes is spent learning new techniques and mastering drills. Much of jiu-jitsu is centered on escaping and achieving submission, Falstrault explains, which requires a lot of core and back strength.

The class ends with 15 to 20 minutes of randori, or fighting and rolling, where all the drills and techniques are put together against another person. 

“When you get good at it, it becomes more of a game of who makes the first mistake,” Falstrault says.

Falstrault started noticing changes in his body after about four weeks of dedication, especially in his abs. He credits his impressive six-pack to jiu-jitsu, because his core muscles are constantly engaged throughout every movement and technique. 

He also experienced massive strength gains in his hands, because so much of Brazilian jiu-jitsu emphasizes grip strength. As his body adjusted, he was able to train more frequently, and six months later he still can’t seem to go enough and trains five days a week.

Jiu-jitsu is just one part of his weekly routine, though. In addition to his martial arts sessions, Falstrault hits the weight room three to four days a week, alternating between upper body and lower body exercises. His upper body workouts consist of pull-up variations and grip strength work. His routine currently consists of weighted chin-ups, fat-gripped bench presses, high rows and tricep dips, all done on a tempo. His lower body days focus on Olympic lifts such as hang cleans and deadlifts, both done at a tempo, along with high rows and tricep dips.

The best piece of advice he can offer those ready to make a change? Start as soon as you can.

“The one thing I hear people say in the gym is, ‘I’ll start Monday.’ Don’t wait until Monday. There’s never a good time to make a change — start right now and don’t look back.”

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