Men and women all over the Western world spend tens of millions of dollars every year in in search of a drool-worthy midsection. Currently there are dozens of ab-targeting exercise machines and contraptions on the market, each one promising you tight, toned and sculpted abdominal muscles. We have the Ab Roller, 8 Minute Abs, The Ab Lounger and dozens more of ab-centric “exercise” equipment.
With all of these devices flooding the market you’d think the beaches of the world were filled with flat tummies and six-pack abs, wouldn’t you? If only it were that simple. Unfortunately for those of us in search of sexy abs, very few of these products do anything for your abs for one simple reason: they do absolutely nothing to burn off the layers of fat covering up your six pack.
The one thing those who manufacture and sell these ab contraptions is that you know very little, if anything, about how to burn fat and work abdominal muscles. If you learn a little about this, you won’t waste another dollar on useless ab machines.
If you want sexy abs then you have to know what fat is so you can burn it properly and what muscle is so you can build it up. Fat is just an excess of calories, stored in layers on top of your muscles, while muscles consist of fibers that aid in basic human movements. Fat cannot be turned into muscle and muscle cannot magically be turned to fat. You’ll need to burn the excess fat of the abdominal muscles so that all of your hard work is visible.
One thing those ab machine infomercials will never tell you is that we all have a flat tummy…underneath layers of fat. If you’re serious about obtaining a flat tummy, it’ll take work in the form of aerobic and strength training exercises. This combination will help you simultaneously burn fat and build muscle. Help avoid weight gain by regulating your blood sugar so you’re not forced by hunger to consume unnecessary fat.
Benefits Of Killer Abs
In addition to looking spectacular, a flat and toned stomach can prevent muscle imbalances that lead to lower back pain. As if you needed another reason to get a midsection you don’t have to suck in, no more back pain should be reason enough!
The main function of the abs is to help flex the torso forward but there are other muscles that also help perform side to side movements, which means you need exercises that will increase each of these muscles. Killer abs means more than just hundreds of crunches; it also means quality and variety. If your goal is to strengthen your abdominal muscles you will need to incorporate one to two of the following types of exercises into your regular routine:
- Forward flexion exercises such as the reverse crunch, knee raises, crunch or sit-up
- Side flexion exercises that include side bends, oblique crunches or side crunches
- Rotational exercises: trunk rotations and standing twists
- 2 exercises that target the lower abdomen
- 1 to 2 exercises that work the obliques to get rid of love handles
- 2 exercises that work the upper abs
There is no shortage of abdominal exercises to help you get the midsection you’ve always wanted. In fact there are far too many to mention here, but here are some that I find most effective.
- Reverse crunch (on or off exercise ball)
- Ab Pike
- Side bends
- Oblique crunch
- Hanging knee raise
- Torso rotation (twist)
- Captain’s Chair crunch
- Exercise ball crunches
The ab muscles are just like any other in that it needs to be worked regularly and progressively to see results. This means you should work your abdominals no more than three times each week. Even if you work out daily, you don’t want to overwork any particular muscle group, especially the abdominals. All muscle groups need time to recover in order to maximize the strength and muscle mass.
Burn Fat With Cardio
Cardio workouts are important because they have the ability to increase your metabolism–fat burning–for as much as 24 hours after you’ve finished your workout. This means greater fat burning and less fat storage in your midsection. The end result is that you burn more fat, which will make the muscles you’re working so hard to build, more visible.
Regulate Blood Sugar
All the cardio in the world is useless if you’re not eating to maximize fat loss and muscle building. The best way to do this is through your diet, particularly regulating your blood sugar so you don’t experience large spikes and dips in your blood sugar that cause you to overeat and usually the wrong kinds of food. Don’t feed your body in excess; only give it the fuel it needs to run properly.
Some people regulate blood sugar by eating small meals every two or three hours to keep the metabolism working at maximum capacity for as long as possible. Others just make sure to maintain a healthy diet that keeps blood sugar even such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains and nuts. These foods are low in bad fat and calories, and high in fiber so you burn as much as possible and store as little as possible.
Make healthy choices whenever possible and exercise regularly so you don’t feel bad when you splurge on pizza or ice cream on occasion.
Ask For Help
Most of us don’t have the nutritional knowledge to achieve our fitness goals, and if you’re having trouble figuring out what you’re doing wrong, consider getting help of a nutritionist or personal trainer. Avoid misleading advice from health magazines, fitness posters and diet salespeople. Qualified professionals can guide you in the right direction so you get the abs–and body–you want.
Get your fitness goals on track by using these helpful tips to help you burn calories and build muscle. Once you see the effect these strategies have on your weight loss and fitness, you should have no trouble making them a permanent part of your everyday life.
Feel free to forward these tips to anyone you know who could benefit from them and be sure to come back for more helpful healthy tips.
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Talk to you again soon…
Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT
Written By: Updated: February 19,2008