Strategies To Get A Flat Stomach
People spend millions, if not billions of dollars, each year in the quest to get a flat stomach. Right now there are approximately 200+ ab exercise devices for sale.
You’d think with all these amazing new products that most people would be walking around with that nice, lean mid-section they've always wanted. Unfortunately, that's not the case.
Most, if not all of these products, will do little or nothing to give you a flat stomach. That's because these exercise contraptions can’t eliminate the layer of fat that lies on top of your abdominal muscles.
In order to be successful at thinning your waistline you must have a basic understanding of how the ab muscles function and how your body burns fat. First, we need to understand the difference between fat and muscle. Fat is excess calories stored in layers on top of muscle tissue. Muscle is made up of fibers that contract or shorten to produce movement. Fat cannot turn into muscle and muscle cannot turn into fat! However, you can lose muscle and you can gain fat. That's what happens to most people.
So if your goal is to get a flat tummy, you first need to decrease or eliminate the layers of fat that are on top of your abs. We all have a flat stomach; it's just some us also have a layer of excess fat.
A flat stomach not only looks good, it also prevents muscle imbalances between the hips and abs. This causes more than 80% of all lower back pain. So a strong flat stomach means a strong, healthy lower back!
The most effective way to get a flat stomach is to combine strength training (with extra focus on the mid-section), cardiovascular exercise (short, hard workouts), and maintain a stable blood sugar (makes it easier for the body to use body fat for fuel and keeps you from adding additional fat):
Progressive Strength Training for Flat Tummy
The primary function of the abdominal muscle is to flex your torso forward. However, there are also muscles that flex your torso to the side and muscles that rotate your torso.
To get a flat tummy, the abs, like any other muscle, should be worked at most 3 times per week.
You also want to make sure you train progressively, i.e. work them harder each time.
If you want to effectively strengthen your stomach you need to incorporate the following types of exercises:
- 1-2 forward flexion exercises (reverse crunch, knee raises, crunch, sit-up, etc.)
- 1-2 side flexion exercises (side bends, side crunches, etc.)
- 1-2 rotational exercises (trunk rotations, standing twists, etc.)
- Choose at least 1-2 exercises that target the lower abs, 1-2 for the obliques (love handles), and 1-2 for the upper abs. There are thousands of ab exercises to choose from – way too many for me to list here. These are a few of the better ones:
- Reverse crunch
- Hanging knee raise
- Torso rotation (twist)
- Leg lowering
- Side bends
- Total crunch
- Exercise ball crunches
- Total crunch
Short, Hard Cardio Workouts Increase Metabolism and Weight Loss
Cardio workouts are important because they CAN, if done correctly, increase your metabolism for 4-24 hours or more! This means you are less likely to store excess calories as body fat because they’re more likely to be used by your elevated metabolism. Plus, you’re more likely to burn off some excess body fat.
Below is a sample interval workout that can be done with just about any activity (walking, bicycling, swimming, stair climbing, etc.).
Warm up at an easy pace for 2-5 minutes… Perform 30 seconds of hard work (almost as hard as possible)… perform 1 minute of moderate work (recovery time-catch breath)… Repeat this process 6-10 times… Cool down at an easy pace for 2-5 minutes
Stabilize Blood Sugar to Maximize Fat Loss
And, you must also stabilize your blood sugar! This is a critical factor when it comes to burning away that excess body fat and keeping it off! To effectively stabilize your blood sugar you must feed your body frequently; like every 2-3 hours. The key is to give your body only what it needs at that time. Your body burns calories 24 hours a day, so, why would you only feed it once or twice a day? Give your body the fuel it needs: vegetables, fruits, nuts, berries, whole grains, and lean proteins (chicken, fish, lean beef, eggs, etc.).
Many people are too concerned with how much fat is in food, or how healthy of a choice it is. Calories are calories and it doesn't matter where they come from. If there are extra calories…guess where they go? Yes, they show up as body fat!
This isn’t to say that what you eat is not important, because it is. It just doesn't have a huge effect when it comes to fat loss. Try to make healthy choices whenever possible.
If you’re serious about your health and fitness goals, I recommend starting with the above strategies. They can help control your metabolism and burn off excess body fat. Take the first step to looking and feeling better, and get a flat tummy today!