Fitness ‘How I got these abs in 30 minutes, 3 times a week’

James Leib, 48, had almost no time to exercise—but this workout whipped him into shape fast.

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James Leib has always taken care of his body: He was the kind of guy who ran Spartan races and pumped iron daily with a personal trainer.

But two years ago, the 48-year-old New Yorker took a job as the director of creative strategy for Banana Republic, a popular clothing store with more than 600 international locations.

The excessive amounts of travel, meetings, and long workdays took a toll on Leib’s body. Before he knew it, he was only hitting the weight room once or twice a week— and he could see and feel the difference. He put on a few pounds (represented in the photo above, which was taken in February) and his athletic build became softer.

Leib knew he needed to find a new routine that worked around his crazy schedule if he wanted get back on track—and he came upon just what he was looking for during a sporadic session with his trainer, Men’s Health next top trainer Andy Speer, whom he’s worked with for more than 10 years.

Leib learned that Speer had put together a new six-week training program designed with convenience in mind. That program—Anarchy Abs from Men’s Health—is a series of 30-minute workouts specifically developed to help you carve a rock hard six-pack. Leib knew it was exactly what he was looking for, so he signed up and became one of the first people to test the workouts.

For six weeks, Leib gave everything he had to the program. He could feel just how out of shape he had become after the first workout, which left him completely sore afterwards, he recalls. But for three days a week for six weeks, he kept at it.

Speer says the program combines ‘body shaping,’ a traditional technique used in gymnastics to strengthen the core, with high intensity cardio to carve your abs from the inside while melting fat off the surface. The program wasn’t about doing an agonizing amount of crunches on the floor, but more about incorporating a variety of exercises that work your entire core, Leib explains.

“You were doing things you didn’t actually realize were affecting your abs,” he says.

Since all he needed was one light pair of dumbbells, one heavy pair of dumbbells, and an open floor to get it done, Leib could easily work out on his travel days, too.

“What I liked about the routine was that a lot of it is easily applicable and I’m able to do it on my own,” he says. “I could replicate it in the gym and if I couldn’t get to the gym I could replicate it in my hotel room because it was a lot of body movement, and stuff you could do even if you didn’t have weights.”

Leib knew he also had to refine his diet if he wanted to see a difference. His frequent traveling was usually accompanied with lots of wine and pasta, so while he was putting Anarchy Abs to the test, Leib cut out all refined carbs. Speer advised him to load up on healthier carbs like sweet potatoes and rice instead. He doubled his servings of chicken and salmon and amped up his vegetable intake with tons of salads.

By the end of the sixth week, his new diet paired with three Anarchy Abs workouts a week helped Leib shave 1.25 inches of his waist, gain a pound of muscle, and took his single-digit body fat down even further from 7.3 percent to 6.5 percent.

“I was very pleased with the results visibly, but more importantly, my goal was just to kind of get back on track working out and it absolutely helped me do that,” he says. “I’m finally working out five days a week, even if I travel, so it kind of got me back into my groove that I was in before I took this job.”

Currently, Leib works out for 45 minutes a day about 4 to 5 days a week using the workouts in Men's Health Anarchy Abs combined with stretching and cardio.

He finally likes the way he looks again and as a bonus, the daily movement helps keep him sane from the stress he faces at work. What’s more, Leib is living proof that you can sculpt a chiseled six-pack at any age: “I’m fighting time. I wanted to see what I can do with my body at this age versus what I could do 5 years ago,” he says.

And he plans to keep on going.

“I think it taught me discipline again,” he says. “If you set a goal and commit to it, you can transform your body, it’s possible, but you have to commit to it. If you’re cheating, you’re only cheating yourself. It takes commitment, it takes follow through—and that’s not just in a span of 6 weeks. It’s a lifestyle.”

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