Try These 6 Simple Tips for Revealing Flat Abs
The fitness industry is chock-full of information and misinformation on how to lose the stubborn tummy pooch and get flat six-pack abs. How are you supposed to tell what works from fads that will at best waste your time, and at worst exacerbate the problem?
Good news, fitness friends: while tightening and toning that troublesome midsection is definitely not an overnight process, it may be simpler than you think. Crunches and fancy ab workouts are actually a pretty small part of the flat abs equation. Follow these six tips for flat abs and I guarantee you will see great results in time and finally achieve the waistline you’re after.
Here Are My Top 6 Tips for Flat Abs:
1) Perfect Your Posture
You can instantly “appear slimmer” by shifting simple aspects of your posture. Check out your full-body profile in the mirror. Are your shoulders rounded forward? Are your ears out farther than your shoulders? Does the top of your pelvis tilt forward? Do you shift your weight to one hip or the other?
Any of these common traits of lackluster posture can make your abdomen appear more bulgy than it really is. For an easy posture fix, stand with the entire back side of your body against a wall, allowing your lower back to maintain its natural slight arch. Press your shoulders back against the wall. Stand tall. Stand this way for 30 seconds, then step away from the wall and try to maintain this ideal posture as you go about your day. The more you practice, the more natural it will feel.
If you have more serious posture problems, you’ll benefit from seeing a personal trainer who can recommend specific exercises and stretches to correct the underlying issues. Click here to learn more about posture problems.
2) Take a Good Hard Look at Your Nutrition
Ever heard the saying, “Abs are made in kitchen”? It’s true! While nutrition isn’t the whole picture, it’s definitely a huge piece. Especially when it comes to abdominal fat, what you put into your body plays an enormous role in what your body ends up looking like. It’s simply not possible to eat the standard junky fare that makes up the modern diet and maintain flat abs, no matter how much you’re exercising.
Of course, there are numerous schools of thought regarding what constitutes a healthy, balanced diet. We don’t have space here to go into all the angles, but here are a few simple tips to get you started: Cut out processed foods and refined sugars. Cook the majority of your meals at home from simple, whole-food ingredients. Hit up a salad bar if you’re eating on the run. Watch your portion sizes. And stop drinking your calories; drink lots of water instead of soda, juice, or coffee drinks.
Remember that no food tastes as good as being fit feels!
3) Don’t Skip Out on Cardio
Contrary to popular belief, doing a million crunches or sit ups will never give you flat abs. Yes, even with the fancy trendy crunch-advancing gadgets you see advertised all over the place. Certain types of ab workouts will build your abdominal muscles, lending a more muscular 6-pack appearance, and other types of ab workouts will increase your core endurance, stability, power, etc. All this ab work is useless to your flat-abs goal if you don’t shed the fat covering the abdominal muscles. Your bulge might even get worse if you build up the abdominal muscles through strength training while the fat stays intact.
Make sure you do plenty of cardio exercise so that your calorie expenditure is high enough to support fat burning. Cardio doesn’t have consist solely of running on the treadmill; take a vigorous hike uphill, ride your bike across town, try a Zumba class…anything to break a sweat! Learn more about cardio here.
4) Prioritize Total-Body Strength Training
In addition to cardio, total-body strength training is absolutely essential to fat loss and unveiling that six-pack underneath the tummy pooch. Biceps curls and triceps kickbacks are all well and good if you want bigger biceps or triceps. But the key to defining any area of the body is often losing the fat covering the firm contours of the underlying muscle.
Total-body strength training focuses on large muscle groups to maximize your caloric burn. Since muscle is hungry (meaning it’s more metabolically active than fat), adding muscle mass to your body means you burn more fat all day long.
Some of the best large muscle group exercises are squats, deadlifts, lunges, pull-ups, and push-ups.
5) Utilize Core Stabilization Exercises
Core stabilization exercises such as plank, side plank, and the bridge all increase intraabdominal pressure by toning your deep core muscles such as the transversus abdominis. This means your waistline will become tight and trim instead of loose and saggy.
Additionally, core stabilization helps greatly with posture, which as we discussed above, is a big player in the flat abs picture. Another benefit of a tight core is reduced risk for injury and greater overall functional strength and power. What’s not to love about core stabilization exercises (except for the fact that I’ll admit the plank gets a little tedious from time to time)?
6) Set Realistic Goals, Track your progress, and Congratulate Yourself Along the Way
That tummy pooch didn’t appear overnight, nor will it vanish overnight even if you follow all the tips outlined above. That’s why my final tip is to be patient with yourself and celebrate small victories. Set achievable goals and measure your progress once a month using body composition assessments such as body fat percentage and circumference measurements.
Did you drop a point in body fat percentage (though you’d still like to lose 5 more points)? That’s fantastic! Give yourself a pat on the back and stay strong with your fitness and nutrition program.
Did you lose an inch off your waistline (even if you have six more to go)? Awesome! Celebrate (just don’t do so with a tub of Haagen-Daz)!
Finally, don’t compare yourself with others. Compare yourself with who you were a month ago, a year ago…and look forward to the person you are becoming every day by living a healthy lifestyle.
Achieving flat abs is not an easy task in this sedentary culture of massive processed food consumption. It will take time, dedication, and resolve to stay on point with your workouts while avoiding ill-advised food choices. Even if you have a long way to go, you can and will get there. Give yourself time and enjoy the journey!