ABS ARE MADE IN THE KITCHEN, NOT THE GYM
Have you tried those 30-Day Abs Challenges and found them being not as efficient as you expected? The truth is that quick solutions sound very attractive, but in reality, they aren’t usually effective. It just doesn’t sound right for a belly that was accumulated for years to be replaced with a six-pack in a month. Don’t get me wrong, those challenges are a great way to stay in shape and they help to develop a habit. If you haven’t been working out for a while, then you’ll see even a better result in terms of getting toned. But you won’t get abs just by doing X amount of crunches for a month or even a year unless you meet this one condition I’m going to tell you about.
Okay, so you want to have a six-pack, what should you do? Let’s understand the science behind abs, come to a logical conclusion, and make a plan of actions.
WHAT IS ABS?
Abs are abdominal muscles that consist of 10 sections/packs. The bottom part of abdominals is usually invisible, thus we can see only a six-pack. Nevertheless, some people manage to reach an 8-pack due to their abdominals being placed higher genetically. Training abs by doing crunches, twists, and planks strengthens the core and tones abdominals. However, regardless how strong your abs are, they’ll never be visible if they’re covered with a layer of fat.
THERE AIN’T NO SUCH THING AS SPOT REDUCE
Not a single abdominal exercise or workout burns fat on your belly. There is no such thing as targeting to burn fat specifically at thighs, butt, belly, or arms. Your body works as a whole unit, simply burning energy. When you do crunches, you aren’t making your waist slimmer, nor lunges get your legs thinner. Exercises that are targeting specific muscle groups are building more lean muscle in those areas. As a result, with some consistency, you receive toned and better defined muscles. Nevertheless, those exercises don’t reduce specific spots by burning fat there, it’s a myth!
When you work out, your body spends energy = calories. You end up losing weight because you create a calorie deficit. Here is the article that clearly explains everything you need to know about how calorie deficit is essential for losing fat. And your body is the one who decides where to take that fat from. Usually it’s the part of body where you gain weight easily, depending on your body type.
In summary, your body is a holistic mechanism that loses fat when you give it less calories than needed for maintenance. Besides restricting a calorie intake from food, exercising is a great way to burn some extra calories. When you do crunches or squats, you don’t burn fat in those spots, but you spend some calories. If you created a calorie deficit, your body will take energy from fat. You’ll look slimmer. Your body will be in charge which parts of the body will naturally slim first and last.
I WANT TO GET DEFINED ABS! NOW WHAT?
Keep training your abs along with other parts of body. Do planks, ab wheel exercises, bicycle crunches, and hanging leg raises. All this will make your abdominal muscles strong, toned, and ready to pop… when you lose some fat.
The most important step is to decrease your body fat percentage. In short, you gotta lose fat to uncover those six-pack abs. Some people say that getting ripped abs is 80% diet and 20% training. I don’t think that it’s a proper recipe: if you have a perfect diet, but don’t train, you’ll have just a flat stomach without abs. On the other hand, if you train to the fullest extent, but ignore the diet, those 20% will be absolutely invisible on abs. Thus, balance is the key.
How to lose fat? Eat clean, exercise regularly (cardio and weight training), drink enough water, sleep well. Here is a great guide: 5 Clean Eating Principles: Lose Fat and Boost Health.
In short, keep training your abs and getting them ready to pop, while working on the main goal – losing fat.
STOMACH VACUUM EXERCISE
Now we came to the best part – a cherry on top of your abs routine. Vacuum is an excellent exercise that came from yoga and actually makes your waist smaller. It targets internal abdominal muscles that you can’t reach via any other abs workouts. Vacuum exercise enhances stability and strength of the core, helps to control lower back pain as well as reduces a front-to back waistline (not a width.)
Consistency. I can’t stress it enough – without consistency everything is pointless. So, start with 3 sets for 30 seconds each and work your way up . You must notice first results in two weeks. If you have abs already, your waist will get tighter. If you are overweight, you’ll probably not see big visual changes just yet, but you’ll be very pleasantly surprised once you lose some fat and uncover your waist.
Stomach vacuum works! By the way, it was one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s favorite exercises – that’s how he kept his waist so thin.
Personally, I’ve been on and off the stomach vacuum routine. Two months ago I’ve added it to my routine again, and I see great changes. Every day I take 20 minutes to do the stomach vacuum. No other abs exercise will make your core feel so strong. Here is how to do it:
- lie on your back
- inhale through the nose
- fully exhale as much as possible through the mouth
- suck in your stomach and draw your bellybutton towards the spine
- hold your stomach in for as long as you can (increase the length over time)
For the beginners, I recommend start doing it in a lying position, later you can try and find the most efficient position for yourself – standing, seated or kneeling. It’s better to do the stomach vacuum on an empty stomach.
Have you tried a stomach vacuum exercise before? Which abs workouts are your favorite?