Okay that’s kind of a click-bait thing I pulled on you. Sorry. *sheepish grin* I’m not actually going to give you a quick, fool-proof strategy to get a flat stomach and a six pack quickly because I’m going to tell you the truth instead. And the truth is, there is NO way to get flat, washboard abs just like that. If I had a dollar for every email and message that asked me for tips and tricks to get a toned tummy quickly, then I would never have to work a day in my life! I don’t mean to rain on your tight-abs-wishing parade, but hey, the point is to understand how to get the body to its optimal level as a whole. As you tighten and tone your whole body, you actually engage your core and abdominals and may even get better results that way than by doing isolated ab exercises.
Old School Myths
It seems to never go away, this belief that many people have of being able to just exercise one muscle group and develop it enough to see gains. I get emails from folks who say they’ve been doing crunches and ab exercises for years but can’t seem to develop toned abs or at least get rid of belly fat. Guys, you can’t spot train. You are better off (and safer) doing functional exercises that work your whole body along with your core than you are laying on the floor straining your lower back and neck doing a thousand sit-ups. When you do functional exercises (executing proper form), you make your whole body stronger, more limber, and able to prevent injury from happening. While certain exercises like weighted decline sit-ups and leg raises may help strengthen abdominal muscles, it’s certainly not the go-to drill to get toned abs fast.
The Real Deal
Each time I get asked by people how they can get abs like mine, the first thing I ask them to do is to look at their nutrition. I cannot emphasise enough how fitness is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise (maybe you’ve heard others say 70/30, but you get the point). Also, I cannot reiterate enough how progress TAKES TIME. I didn’t get toned abs in just 3 weeks or through “6 easy steps.” I had my own share of frustration and impatience when it felt like it took forever to see any changes. But it was when I made major tweaks to my diet and nutrition that I began to understand and see how it helped me get closer to my goals.
The truth is going to be a little hard to commit to, because the road to toned abs requires you to make changes that some find to be quite drastic. For one, you’ll have to cut out refined carbs and sugar from your meals. You can do ab exercises all day everyday but if you continue to consume refined carbs and processed sugar, then don’t expect to find developed abdominal muscles to make an appearance anytime soon. This will require you to really take your nutrition/diet seriously and start crafting your meals in a way that helps you achieve your goals. Our body still needs carbs (which we can get through good sources like oats, basmati rice, sweet potato, and vegetables), so you won’t be cutting it out completely from your diet. The best time to take in your carbs is after a high-intensity workout so that your body can use it up and store it as glycogen (for energy) instead of as fat. Also, cardio is definitely going to be your friend/worst enemy. I struggle to do cardio on most days but I understand how efficient it is in burning fat. I am either on the treadmill, running outside, or on a stationary bike. You need to include cardio in your workout routines and you absolutely need to strength train your whole body.
Some people may never be able to develop six-pack abs because, often, the level of body fat required to get flat abs might be lower than you can handle given your lifestyle or schedule. Your abdominal muscles show when you are lean, which means you need a low body fat count. If you have a physically-demanding or stressful work schedule/lifestyle, a low body fat count may be detrimental to you. Another thing we have to look at, too, is genetics. A predisposition for leanness is either in your genes or not, and that’s something that needs to be considered.
Truth be told, if you took care of and work your body as a whole, you may find a greater satisfaction with the results you get. Don’t aim for just nice arms, flat abs, bigger glutes. Aim for a stronger, fitter, healthier, and more toned body overall. Understand that each person is different and therefore our bodies have different responses to diet and exercise. Love yourself and let go of popular societal pressures of achieving a “perfect body” because what matters more than appearance, is how we feel inside. Our inner health and well-being will always manifest itself on the outside.
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