“How do I get abs?”
You already have them.
“Ok, so how do I make them come out of hiding?”
I’m so glad yo asked!
I know we’ve been here before, but this is a topic I feel worth repeating, because the most frequently asked questions I get involve abs…So, here are the facts.
1 Everyone has abs. They’re a group of muscles that, in part, make up the body’s “core”, or midsection. They include 1) the Rectus abdominis, 2) the Internal obliques, 3) the External obliques, and 4) the Transverse abdominis.
2 They aid in EVERYTHING we do, sitting, standing, bending over, housework, showering, getting dressed, exercising,..You name it, your abs are probably involved!
3 Though abs can’t be “built” like other muscles, strengthening them is VERY beneficial to improving EVERYTHING mentioned in No. 2. Also, strengthening can help them appear more defined once they’re been “uncovered”, which leads us to…
4 In order to be able to SEE your abs, you’ve got to reduce enough fat (visceral and subconscious) in your midsection for them to POP. And I quote “Muscularity as it relates to visual appearance IS dependent on having a relatively low body fat percentage”-Fredrick C. Hatfield, PhD. But…
5 You cannot sport reduce fat. You have to focus on total body fat reduction, and it takes a combination of consistently healthy habits (diet, exercise, rest, etc) to do that…It also takes TIME and PATIENCE!
6 Extremely restrictive eating habits and starvation tactics will only cause your body to store the fat you’re trying to burn, and will lead to uncontrollable cravings and binge cycles. Finding and maintaining YOUR proper energy balance is key, as well as fueling your body with wholesome, nourishing foods.
6 Carbs are not bad, UNLESS you have an intolerance to them. The right carbs are actually very important to a well balanced diet. They provide the body with quick, effective energy, help replenish glycogen in muscles, provide vital nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals, improve satiety, help control hunger, and can actually help control insulin levels…BUT, here’s where things get murky, and people get scared…According to a recent study, there is a link between a person’s genetic ability to produce amylase—the enzyme in saliva that breaks down carbs—and BMI…It turns out that some bodies genetically do a better job of regulating carbohydrates than others (likely due to a number of genes, not just amylase…but…).
What this means is, If you’re on the “lucky end” of carb-genetics, then a slice of cake registers as lower on the glycemic index in your body than most, and you may be satisfied for a week after just that one slice. On the other hand, if you’re at the “not so lucky end,” that one piece of cake has a HIGHER glycemic index, and it goes right to your love handles. Oh, and you’ll dream about that slice of cake every day thereafter, increasing the likelihood that you’ll binge on carbs in the near future.
So, in other words, life ain’t fair.
Being carbohydrate intolerant can definitely hinder fat loss.
If you suspect this is the case for you, here are some simple guidelines:
- • Don’t cut out carbs totally.
- • Get carbs from veggies and other foods low on the glycemic index.
- • Take a probiotic supplement.
- • Try an “ultra-low” glycemic index carb supplement like Ucan to curb cravings, but ONLY if absolutely necessary.
7 Exercise IS important to uncovering abs, just not core, “ab”, exercises (Reminder, they only strengthen, they don’t burn fat). You need to focus on a combination of strength training (weightlifting) and CAR-DI-O!
Cardio, particularly high intensity cardio, burns calories, improves endurance, boosts metabolism, and helps the body burn fat (among other things). It doesn’t take much for you to start seeing the results you want (about 20-30 minutes a day), but consistency IS key (4-6 days a week, depending on the duration of the workout). For best results, in terms of fat loss, aim for between 120-150 minutes of moderate to high intensity cardio per week, performing at about 65%-75% of your best effort each session.
Strength training (weightlifting) helps strengthen joints and tendons, increases strength, boosts mobility, and builds lean muscle (among other things). For simplicity sake, the more lean muscle you have, the more fat your body burns, NATURALLY! Therefore, strength training is super important when fat loss is the goal. I recommend strength training 45-60 minutes a day, 4-6 times a week, again, performing, or lifting, at between 65%-75% of your best effort, or max, each session.
“If strength training helps my body burn fat naturally, why can’t I only do that?”
I’m gonna keep this one simple. If you have fat to lose, adding muscle underneath won’t do anything for you aesthetically. Sure, you’ll increase strength, power, endurance, health, etc, but I repeat “Muscularity as it relates to visual appearance IS dependent on having a relatively low body fat percentage”, thus you’ve got to burn the fat you’ve already got, and cardio plus sound nutrition strategies COMBINED with strength training is the key.
8 Drinking water helps. It’s no secret that water is essential to life, but it can also help your abs “come out”. Bloat is often problematic when trying to reveal abs. The more water you drink, the more water you flush out of your gut, making your tummy flatter and your abs more predominant.
9 You might have Diastasis Recti, a condition in which the lower abdomen sticks out due to the space between the left and right abdominal muscles widening, Some might call it a “pooch” or “mommy tummy”. It’s very common among pregnant women. About two-thirds of pregnant women have it. Having more than one child makes this condition more likely, especially if they’re close in age, as well as giving birth via c-section.
HOW TO TEST FOR DIASTASIS RECTI:
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Relax your head and shoulders and place your fingers (palm facing you) just above your belly button.
Lift your head and neck very slightly off the floor and press down with your fingertips. If you feel a gap, that’s the diastasis. You will feel the muscles close in around your fingers as you lift your head and neck. Don’t lift your shoulders. Repeat the test in two other place: directly over the belly button, and a couple of inches below.
A diastasis recti gap is measured in finger width’s. You are aiming for a 1-2 finger gap or less, but don’t panic if it’s much bigger at first.
Even more important than the width of the gap though, is the tension (or lack of tension) in the midline. Contracting the muscles should create tension and resistance when you apply gentle pressure with your fingers to the midline. If it doesn’t – you have some re-connecting to do…
WHICH MOVEMENTS OR EXERCISES SHOULD BE AVOIDED?:
Crunches, sit-ups, oblique (twists) combined with crunches; anything that ‘jack-knifes’ the body, by pivoting at the hip and placing strain on the abdominals – such as straight leg lifts or holds from lying on your back and similar Pilates moves.
WHAT EXERCISES WILL HELP CLOSE A DIASTASIS?:
In some cases, medical intervention/surgery is necessary to correct this condition, but for many, there is a simple method which has proven to be very effective.
First, you need to FIND and connect with your deep core muscles. Here’s how: Lie flat on your back, knees bent, feet about shoulder width apart. Without raising or tensing your chest or shoulders, GENTLY draw your belly button back towards your spine as you slowly exhale. That’s the right muscle! You’re not ‘sucking in’ or making any forceful or exaggerated movement. Your pelvis shouldn’t tuck under as you do this – in fact nothing should be happening in your shoulders, chest or pelvis! It is just a subtle drawing in at the lower abs.
You are not… sucking in your stomach, holding your breath, moving your ribs or your shoulders. You’re not tucking your butt / tailbone under you or thrusting your hips. These movements indicate instead that the Transverse is not fully engaged. You need to find this muscle first and re-connect with it, if it is going to play its vital role in your core and pelvic floor system.
You need to correct your ALIGNMENT – the cause of that excessive pressure and loading.
Then you have to learn to ENGAGE your transverse abdominis and pelvic floor muscles effectively and correctly, not only when you exercise, but also during every-day movements like lifting, sneezing or twisting. This is a natural, reactive movement which you won’t always have to do consciously! But to re-connect, to realign, and to restore, you have to isolate at first.
Then you need to STRENGTHEN your transverse abdominis muscle in a way that will draw your rectus abdominis muscle (the six pack, outermost one, the one that has separated) back in together, pulling your belly back in… flatter and stronger.
It’ll take time…MONTHS…but it’ll be worth the extra effort.
10 EveryBODY is different. No two individuals cut or are shaped the same. Everyone’s muscle structure looks different, so don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Your body is just right for you. Your abs will be aesthetically unique to you!
So, there you have it! If abs are your ultimate goal, you’ve got to stop focusing on them solely…Stop with the endless crunching, twisting, planking, and leg lifting…It’s time to take a multifaceted approach, and focus on fat loss. THAT is what’s going to get you to where you wanna be!
Here is a KILLER fat blasting HIIT workout for you to try!
- 50 Jumping Jacks
- 10 Burpees
- 50 Jumping Jacks
- 50 Mountain Climbers
- 50 Butt Kicks
- 30 Pushups
- 10 Burpees
Move from exercise to exercise with NO rest in between. Once you’ve completed ALL the given reps for each exercise, you’ve done ONE round. Rest 60-90 seconds and repeat. Do 3-5 rounds!
Guys, this type of workout, performed CONSISTENTLY, will help you burn the fat and reveal those abs. You just gotta stick with it.