How to get a Flat Stomach
FOOD 80% of your visible results come from DIET. You are a result of what you eat and a layer of fat over defined muscle is going to HIDE muscle... everyone has abs they are just hiding. So, regardless of how many crunches, sit ups, leg ups you do, if you don’t watch your caloric intake and keep the fats,carbs and proteins in balance you will NOT see definition. Diet needs to consist of primarily vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats. Yes we need carbohydrates and fats, but the right kind of carbohydrates and fats. Yes there is a place for pizza, donuts and saturate fats but not if you want definition. How bad do you want definition?
REPETITION- So many trains of thought on this but for ME it is a matter of repetitions. I find that you need to fatigue and pump the muscle. I believe in a lot of reps and I believe in frequency when it comes to ab development. I train abs at least 5 days a week and I do a minimum of 200 crunches. 200!? Yep- I meant 200. I do 25-50 at a time in-between sets of cardio and/or weights. So no, this does not take hours. I replace my “rest” between sets with crunches.
CORE- A strong core is the first step in defining strong and definition. I engage my core during every exercise I do. Butt is always clenched, stomach is always pulled in, back and shoulders are always straight not rounded. I do not sacrafice form to lift heavier weights. A tight core is the main focus.
FORM is critical. When doing abdominals, it is not about the amount of weight you are using or how unique the excerise is. More importantly, are you engaging and working the area you are concentrating on? Are you USING Your abdominals to drive the exercise or are you using momentum from other areas to drive the crunch (this would NOT be the way to do it!)
CARDIO is important. Just like my first statement with diet, if there is a layer of fat on top of your muscle, you will not see the definition. High intensity cardio is another important variable in achieving definition… BONUS for running where you are using your arms and engaging your core and working the abs even more… You need to do intense cardio to the point where you are sweating, breathing hard and pushing yourself if you want to burn that excess fat. Everyone has abs and you will too…
Everyone wants a flat stomach. To have defined "six-pack abs" is even more desirable. So how do you go about getting that super-cut look? Is it possible to get that toned in just two weeks? There are numerous books, videos and gadgets on the market that claim to do just that. Some even state that you just need a few minutes a day. Others go so far to claim it is as simple as taking a fat-burning pill, and that you can continue to eat all you want and not exercise. But how realistic are these claims? Learn the common misconceptions about getting in shape, and the proper way to get toned abdominal muscles.
1. Understand the anatomy of the abdominal muscles. Your abs are located in the midsection of your body. They are made up of the transverse abdominus, rectus abdominus, internal obliques and external obliques. The transverse abdominus is a deep muscle. It wraps around the entire abdominal area and helps to stabilize the trunk. The internal and external obliques are located along the sides of the rectus abdominus, and assist the body with lateral, or bending and twisting, movements. On top of the transverse abdominus and in between the obliques is the rectus abdominus. It is divided into right and left sides and is in sections. It is a well-toned rectus abdominus that creates that six-pack look.
Having well-toned abs is not just important for appearance: Strong abdominal muscles help you maintain better posture and balance, and prevent back pain and injury. Your abdominal muscles are the core of your body. If your center is strong, it will support you as you move through daily activities and recreation.
2. Avoid common misconceptions. Performing situps is not the only requirement for obtaining flat or defined abdominal muscles. While doing exercises targeted to the abdominal muscles can make them stronger, you cannot spot reduce. It is also important to do a variety of movements. Since the abdominal muscles are large, you cannot effectively train the entire muscle or create that six-pack look by doing just one exercise. You must have a routine that takes your abdominal muscles through a variety of movements to fully sculpt and train them.
Also, to develop that six-pack look you must be within a healthy weight range and have a low percentage of body fat. Your body fat needs to be at 10 percent or lower for men, and at 15 percent or lower for women. So unless you fall into this category, six-pack abs are out of reach. There are many home scales that will measure your percentage of body fat, and many health clubs and gyms offer this service. If you purchase a home model, make sure you follow the directions exactly to get accurate results. These scales are not 100 percent accurate, but they will give you a basic measurement, and you can use them to track your progress.
In addition, with any form of strength training, results are usually not seen for four to eight weeks, depending on the intensity of your training routine.
If you are at the required body fat percentage and you have been working out regularly for some time, and you are doing a well-rounded abdominal workout, you may be able to see some definition happening in two weeks. Otherwise, there are steps you need to follow to develop that six-pack look. It takes time and effort to get there.
3. Reach a healthy weight and body fat composition. If you are not currently within the required percentage of body fat, you first need to shed those extra pounds. That means controlling your food intake and getting regular cardiovascular exercise for 40 to 45 minutes at least five days per week. This can include using equipment like a treadmill, elliptical machine or bike, or participating in activities like swimming, running or aerobic-exercise classes. It is not recommended that you lose anymore than 2 lbs. per week unless you are under the supervision of a doctor. Weight loss greater than this is not healthy, and shocks the body. Losing weight slowly allows the body to adjust, and the weight tends to stay off. Losing weight is hard, and it is difficult to do it alone. Joining a gym or working out with friends or coworkers makes you more likely to stick with it. There are also programs like Weight Watchers that can guide and support you in reaching your weight-loss goals in a healthy, effective and safe manner.
4. Use an incline to work your stomach muscles. Perform crunches. Typical abdominal crunches should be included in your routine. They can be done on the floor, a weight bench, a physioball or a machine. However, you do not need equipment to get six-pack abs. If you have some weights, a Physio Ball and a basic weight bench, you can get the abs you always wanted.
For a more advanced version, try this exercise with a weight resting on your chest, or on a bench where you can do decline sit ups, as in the photo shown here. The higher the incline, the more difficult the exercise. If you are really advanced, you can do this exercise with a weight as well.
5. Incorporate reverse crunches, another exercise that is necessary to obtaining a sculpted set of abs. As with the regular crunch, you can do this exercise on a declined bench or with a Physio Ball to make it more challenging. You can do the exercise while holding a Physio Ball between your ankles to make the exercise even harder. Try passing the ball to your hands, and lower both the arms and legs toward the floor at the same time. Then bring them back up and pass the ball back to your feet. Lower both arms and legs again. You need to keep your back flat on the floor and the abdominal muscles contracted to protect your back from injury.
6. Add some oblique exercises. The last part of your six-pack ab routine should include twisting movements to target the obliques. You can work your oblique muscles by lying on your back, lying on your side and lifting up, twisting while standing and sitting, or lying on an inclined bench . As with all of the above exercises, you can add weights and a Physio Ball to take them to the next level. Here are a FEW...
- Side Lying Planks- Side planks effectively target the internal and oblique muscles and can be performed on a mat or soft surface. Lay on your left side with your left elbow directly under your shoulder. Lift your body up into one straight line with your top leg perfectly lined up and stacked on top of your left leg. You will be supporting your weight with your left elbow and left foot only. Place your right hand on your hip, or for more of a challenge, lift it straight up toward the ceiling. Hold the plank for 10 to 20 seconds then slowly lower your bottom hip toward the floor and raise back up to start position. Tip: as you lower and raise you hips be careful not to let them roll forward. Perform 10 to 20 plank lower and lifts and then repeat the sequence on the other side.
- Twisting Bicycle Crunches-A recent study conducted by the American Council on Exercise led by Peter Francis, Ph.D., looked at 13 different abdominal exercises. Topping the list of the most effective abdominal exercises was the bicycle maneuver exercise. Not only does the bicycle exercise target the rectus abdominis, but with twisting upper body crunches, you will also strengthen and tone the obliques. To perform this exercise, lay on your back with your hands placed behind your head and your legs extended out straight on the floor. Bring your left knee towards your right elbow as you lift your right foot about 4 inches off of the floor. Keep your abdominals tucked in tight and your lower back pressed into the floor. Alternate bringing knees to opposite elbow as in a bicycle movement in the air. The more you twist and rotate your upper body, the more you will utilize your oblique muscles. Perform 20 to 30 repetitions. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat for one more set.
- Lying Mermaid Lifts- Mermaid lifts are similar to the side planks except that only your lower body lifts off of the floor while the upper body remains stationary. Lay down on your left side with your body in a straight line. Prop yourself up on your left elbow keeping your head lifted without sinking down into the shoulder. Your right hand can rest on the floor in front of you for support. Contract your abs and lift your legs up off the floor holding them tightly together as if they were one unit. Lift your legs as high as they will go and slowly lower back to the floor. Be careful not to let your hips roll forward or backward as you perform the movement. Try for 20 to 30 repetitions and after your last rep, hold your legs just off the ground for a count of five. Roll to your right side and repeat the sequence. Rest for one minute and repeat one more set on your left and right side. Remember to exhale as you lift your lower body and inhale on the return.
7. Limit the number of repetitions. You do not need to do hundreds of ab exercises to get six-pack abs. You need a variety of exercises like the ones described above, done properly. If you are really working your abs hard, you only need to do two to three sets of each exercise for 12 to 20 repetitions per set. If you feel that you need to do a lot of crunches, this usually means the exercise you are doing is not hard enough, or you are doing it improperly. The more repetitions you do, the more likely you are just using momentum and poor form. If an exercise is effective, as you do a set, you should really be feeling it after 12 to 20 repetitions.