Would you like a slimmer waistline? More sculpted mid section? Or ripped abs? Whatever you’re thinking there’s 3 steps that will set the stomach toning wheels in motion. Stay committed and they’ll take you the distance.
At times I get a kick out of living strict and ripping up my abdominals. It took some time to figure out how to do it though. Now that I have the formula worked out it’s a no brainer. It’s not complicated. And it’s not about using a crazy ab machine from an infomercial.
While we’re on the topic. The worst approach you can take to shape your mid section is to focus on an exercise that trains that area alone. Working your stomach with an ‘Ab Machine’ or exercise technique will do little towards reaching your goal.
You see, compared to other muscles in your body, the abdominals are a very small muscle group. When you train abs you burn few calories. A tighter six pack is dependent on burning maximum calories, or cutting some out, rather than repping out endless ab exercises.
Don’t get me wrong you can’t ignore ab exercises altogether. I just want you to know that the emphasis you place on ab training should only be part of your plan, not ALL of your plan.
I often hear ‘Hey Mike, I wanna bring out my lower abs, what’s the best exercise, I just can’t get them to show?’. Focusing on a specific ab exercise will lead to disappointment. The reason abs appear to lack development is because there’s too much fat covering them. Less time spent on ab training variations and more on correct eating will offer far more to revealing a washboard stomach.
So let’s look at my 3 tips. These are the areas to keep your eye on. If you hit a wall get straight back to these to work out where to tidy things up.
1) Cut back on carbohydrates and increase protein foods:
Pretty simple really. As long as you aren’t already on a lower carb diet, the best way to melt stomach fat is to reduce the amount of carbs you eat. The main ones to remove are ALCOHOL and SUGARS. I’m not one for ultra low carb diets though. Sure they work, but you’ll achieve excellent results shaving carbs – not axing them altogether.
When you lower your carbs you’ll need to increase protein. Regular protein intake is MOST important as it protects your lean muscle (where fat is burned). Protein foods are also thermogenic. In other words, to digest protein your body will actually burn calories. A cool trick. If you’ve wondered why models and bodybuilders rely on protein shakes this is one reason. More protein helps them get leaner and leaner.
So remember, keep carbs down and protein up.
2) Exercise with higher intensity:
Don’t panic, the word ‘intensity’ is used in a relative sense. Whatever your level you can reach a higher intensity than what you’re used to. Aim to push beyond your current fitness level. If starting from scratch this might mean just getting up off the couch and going for a walk. Whatever you do, just make sure to work your body harder at every workout.
You’ll achieve more including both cardio and resistance exercise. Whether at home or in a gym include resistance training in your plan. Using large muscles like your back and legs through resistance exercise burns huge amounts of calories. The stress placed on the body working these muscles also stimulates greater production of fat burning hormones. Train hard, make those muscles burn and your body will be in fat melting overdrive.
An effective cardio technique for burning belly fat is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). HIIT can raise metabolism for hours after you finish exercise. You’ll burn more calories for longer each day. It involves switching from moderate intensity intervals to higher intensity intervals and can be achieved with virtually any form of cardio. The simplest approach is to rotate 2 minutes at a moderate intensity, with 1 minute at a high intensity and so on for 15 to 25 mins (there’s more in my ‘Hyper Burn’ guide on this).
3) The best Abs exercise:
Abs get an indirect workout through many exercises (try cable tricep pushdowns and you’ll know what I mean), but for complete development you’ll need to do some specific abdominal training. So what’s the best abdominal exercise? For overall development it’s crunches on the Swiss Ball.
The instability of the ball results in recruitment of surrounding core muscles, as well as maximum intensity placed on the abs themselves. So find yourself a Swiss Ball and perform 1 to 3 sessions per week. Build up to completing 5 sets each time of around 20 reps per set. As you get fitter increase the intensity by holding more weight on your chest.