It seems to be universally accepted that abs are the one muscle group everyone wants. For some reason, strong abdominal muscles seem to represent the epitome of a healthy and well-toned body. Our love for abs doesn’t discriminate – both men and women covet these sexy little muscles, and both genders work hard in the gym to bring them out of hiding.
There are several things however that people do incorrectly in their quest for amazing abs. While there is no secret to achieving defined stomach muscles, there are certainly some things that you can do (and things you should know) before you embark on your quest for the perfect stomach:
1. No matter how many abdominal exercises you do, you will not have visible abs while there is still a layer of fat around your stomach area
How many times have you seen overweight people at the gym grunting and groaning their way through gruelling sit-up and crunch exercises? It pains me to no end seeing this and I wish I could tap them on the shoulder and tell them that despite their wholehearted intentions, their attempt is futile. Why? The reason is this: every human being has abs, just like every human has arms and legs. The problem is that the average person’s abs are hidden beneath layers and layers of abdominal fatty tissue. These fat layers hide those beautiful abs from sight, and instead, replace them with unsightly muffin tops.
The first step in getting great abs is to lose the weight around the stomach and abdominal area. This is where your cardio and diet comes in. I don’t need to lecture you on how to lose weight but by getting rid of this fat will allow your abs to be visible naturally, without all that puffing and groaning during sit ups.
2. Sit ups alone (and pin machine weights for abs) will not give you a six pack
There is so much more to abs than these measly exercises (and so many easier ways to get great abs too!) The best part about this muscle group is that you can work it by doing a whole host of exercises, both inside the gym and out.
As a starter, make sure that you brace your inner core and abs when performing any type of exercise. This ranges from holding your centre strong when running, to clenching it and holding it tight when weight lifting. Not only does engaging your core strengthen your stomach muscles, it also provides crucial support to your lower back when training and therefore helps prevent injury and strain.
For those of you who have done yoga, you will recall the instructor talking about embracing your core strength. Same goes for other exercises too. Outside of the gym, brace your stomach muscles when lifting heavy objects in the home, cleaning or even cooking. You will find after a while of doing this, not only will you feel stronger, your posture will probably have improved as a result also.
If you can’t make it to a gym, drop down into a plank position and hold for one minute several times throughout your day to brace your core strength. This exercise is a powerhouse and works several areas of your body and is a great one for tightening the abdominal area.
3. You are what you eat
As with most things body-related, the ultimate key comes down to what you put in your body. Here, quality, not quantity, is crucial. When you are consuming a diet of lean protein (lean, organic meats if you aren’t vegetarian), vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds and very low (or no) amounts of whole grains, your stomach will love you right back.
I don’t have to remind you but a diet full of highly processed carbohydrates, sugars and alcohol is not conducive to great abs. Sorry to break it to you. Keep your diet clean and lean and you will have those dream abs in no time.