How do I flatten my stomach? How do I get the flab off of my lower belly? How do I get six-pack abs? I am probably asked these questions, or some form of them on a daily basis. Everyone wants a flat, toned and tightened midsection, but often the answer isn’t what they want to hear. There isn’t one specific exercise that will do it; there isn’t one type of food that will do it; and there isn’t a magic pill. That might be hard to hear but, any personal trainer or fitness professional that is truthful will tell you the same. That’s the simple truth - tough love from me to you.
Now here is the great news: you CAN flatten your abs and you CAN have the midsection that you have always wanted. In addition to sound nutrition, a thank you to mom and dad (genetics), and exercise, it’s going to take 3 things:
- Consistency – Doing what you need to do on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Never giving up and knowing that it will take time to make change. Depending on where you are when you start on your goal, improving your abs can take weeks, months and sometimes years.
- Patience – Depending on where you are starting from, it’s going to take time. Since there’s no magic pill as noted above, this is a long process that requires your patience. The kind of patience that supports your consistent efforts.
- Persistence - There is a big difference between persistence and patience. The patient person will allow the time it takes, the persistent person pushes forward, never looks back, and doesn’t accept defeat. You will need both.
Now that list might look like the making of a “Successories” card but, again, it’s tough love and truth. Let’s apply our success tips to nutrition and exercise:
• Consistently perform ab exercises at a minimum of 3 times/week, every week.
• Core work is key – focus on working all angles and muscles within the core to develop a balanced and stable torso - choose exercises such as:
• Mountain Climbers
• Stability ball exercises
• Focus on the Transverse Abdominus (TVA), to stay in and flat while performing abdominal exercises. That is, a 4 inch band of muscle that wraps all the way around your torso. Engaging the TVA throughout core exercises, plus basic crunches and bicycles will ensure that the abdominals function properly; the spine is protected, and avoids the dreaded “pushed out effect” from improper abdominal work.
I mention eating clean quite a bit in my blogs and Facebook communication. But, eating clean is about consistency (80-90% of the time), eating whole foods that are low in sugar, high in fiber and non-processed... Many people think they can work off the calories with a more intense workout, but you get out what you put in. Put in healthy ingredients such as lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, and plenty of water and get out a lean physique and flat abs.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), isn’t just a passing fad. Research has shown that interval-based cardio can help burn fat, while preserving and even increasing muscle. Slow or lower intensity cardio can actually slow metabolism by burning too much muscle over time. If you are training for a half or full marathon, it is important that your training program includes bouts of HIIT along with strength training as a means of preserving muscle.
To have the flat abs you have always wanted, be consistent with your nutrition and exercise – stay patient with yourself in the process, and be persistent in your endeavor. The hard work will pay off if you are true to the basics of nutrition and exercise noted here. Work with what you’ve got and lean on your Snap Fitness club to help get you there!