If you’re like every other fitness enthusiast, you view the abdominal muscles as the pinnacle of a hot body. Many can have a chiseled chest, python biceps, a wide back, and/or tree trunk thighs, but unless they’re accompanied with washboard abs, many gym rats understand that you’re not ‘dialed in’ with your physique.
Don’t get overwhelmed by the spare tire around your midsection. The world of excuses tells you that 1) unless you’re born with proper genetics, you’ll never have a great six-pack; 2) the older you get, the more fat you’ll store around your midsection so there’s no point trying; and 3) you can be fit while still having spare fat around your tummy. Though genetics does play a part, and the older you get the more fat you store around your organs (which shows by your lack of toned abdominal muscles) excuses are just that! So stop making excuses, and follow these ten tips to speed your way to a six pack!
1. Suck in your gut more often. It might sound crazy, but that little trick you do to impress others does some slight strengthening of your stomach muscles. This doesn’t mean you have to hold them in a hard clench all day (which is likely to cause indigestion), but the more you do this, the more habit-forming tightening your abdominal muscles will become.
2. Begin, if you haven’t, a regular program of aerobic exercise. There are many forms of aerobic exercises: aerobics classes, running, brisk walking, swimming, bicycling, or using equipment like the stationary bicycle, elliptical machine, rowing machine, and stair climber. When you get bored, vary the type of aerobic exercise you’re doing. Remember, you don’t want your body to plateau by getting so used to something that you’re doing that it stops responding to it.
3. Don’t forget to stretch your abs. Lie on the floor, before and after your crunches, stretch your toes and your arms above your head. Arch your back slightly if you can’t feel the ab muscles when you stretch them.
4. Know that unlike other muscles, the abdominals can be worked every day. They don’t need the resting phase that other muscles do. Many personal trainers, however, recommend that you take at least a day off every week or two.
5. Build strength training into your routine, especially chest exercises. Having larger pectorals and arms creates the illusion that your waist is smaller. But there’s an even better reason: muscle burns more calories than fat. So the more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll be burning, which will help you achieve your goal of a chiseled stomach.
6. To juice up your abs and get stronger, do back exercises. That’s right. Your lower back muscles help support your abdominal area, and the stronger your back is, the more crunches you can do. Practice better posture. Pull your shoulders back. You help your stomach look smaller, and it’s better for your back.
7. To reward yourself for hard work, give yourself a break in some other aspect of your life. Take a vacation. Do something fun and rewarding. When you have high stress levels, you will pack on more fat. You’ll never get abs as long as you’re storing extra fat!
8. Don’t get discouraged if not much happens the first week of your new ab-training routine. You might lose some water weight, but you probably won’t look different. It takes at least three weeks for a pattern to be established, say psychologists, and it takes time to build muscle and lose fat- especially when targeting such a specific area of your body.
9. View your efforts as setting a lifetime routine, rather than just being a short time to get your abs lean. That’s the fad-diet mentality. Do you want to end up back at the point where you are now 6 months down the road? Also, you’re human. Give yourself a break if you lapse into previous habits and slide back a little. As long as your progress overall continues to go forward, you’ll see success. Throw away all of your “fat pants.” Saying you will need them again is just setting yourself up for failure.
10. Control what you eat! The biggest hurdle to getting a great set of abs is what foods you’re putting into your body. Control what you put into your body, and you control how it looks. Eat fatty, sugary foods, and you’ll look just that. Eat a balanced diet, and control your calorie intake and you’ll see results almost immediately!