Spring arrived this week which can only mean one thing… summer is on its way!
If you’re looking for a trim-down plan to get your abs ready for beach weather, read on. Great-looking abs can be yours, with some effort and determination. Here are your top 3 to-do’s for a head-turning midsection.
Did you ever hear the expression “Great abs are made in the kitchen”? That’s right. You won’t have great abs until you get your diet under control by eating the right foods in the right portions. Everyone has some ab muscles, but when they’re covered under a layer of fat you’d never know it. Losing the fat layer is going to be largely a function of getting your diet under control and eating fewer calories than you burn (creating a calorie deficit). There are lots of online programs and apps that can help you set appropriate calorie & nutrition goals and track your progress. But if you are not willing to make diet changes, then you really need to rethink your goals.
Losing fat will come from a combination of diet & exercise (mostly diet as explained above). However, no trim down plan is complete without exercise. Exercise burns fat at a higher rate. And high intensity exercise (HIIT = high intensity interval training) revs your metabolism to burn calories at a higher rate even after your workout. Commit to some high-intensity exercise several times per week for at least 30 minutes per session to accelerate fat loss.
Strengthen the midsection by performing training exercises that target the ab muscles. Many people mistakenly believe that they need to do is 500 crunches to effectively work the abs. But the abs are made up of multiple muscles: the transverse abdominus (deepest ab muscle that wraps around the torso), internal/external obliques (located on either side of the torso and used for rotation / lateral flexion of the spine) and rectus abdominus (most superficial muscle and responsible for the 6-pack look). You should aim to work all of the abdominal muscles during your workouts.
Here are some of my favorite ab-strengthening exercises. When done in combination, these will work all of the abdominal muscles in all the right ways. Try each one for 30 seconds or 8-12 reps each, repeated in a circuit style. When these become too easy, add resistance or better yet, introduce instability by exercising on a Bosu or exercise ball!
- Plank holds (on wrist or elbow)
- Hanging leg raises
- Supine oblique bicycle crunches
- Plank knee raises
- Russian twists
Bottom line: You didn’t think there was some way other than diet and exercise to get nice abs for summer, did you? By now you should know there is no magic pill. It takes commitment to both diet and exercise to achieve your fitness goals. And the only thing standing between you and your 6-pack abs is your excuses!
photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net