As a personal trainer when I meet a new client, I would say that many of them speak of their desire for a flatter stomach and weight loss.
For the ladies many of you speak of a nice flat tummy with no visible pouch and to feel confident on holidays by the pool whereas the men out there aim to have a visible, muscular and more toned stomach.
So this article is all about your abdominals and how to get them flatter – easier!
Abs are everywhere, you will rarely see anyone on a cover of a fitness magazine or book without a six pack or flat stomach. Clearly this builds up the desire of the readers to get one. I admit myself that a six pack does look great. It is also more than just about vanity and appearance, strong abs plays a vital role in body chemistry and supporting the body’s core. A strong abdominal section also ensures a reduction in body fat which helps to reduce your risk of illness and disease.
I read the other day that it will take 250,000 crunches to burn 1 pound of fat, that’s 100 crunches a day for seven years!!! Which proves that in order to achieve a flat belly you need to do a bit more than ab exercises, a healthy diet is just as important as exercise to achieving this.
So what makes up your abs?
There are 4 muscle groups which make up your mid section:
Rectus Abdominus – this is the main muscle that people see when they think of a six pack. These muscles enable your upper body to bend, like in a crunch. The rectus abdominus is also important in achieving good posture.
External Obliques – any movement at the waist involves your external obliques. They begin at your ribs and extend diagonally down to your waist. Movements like a golf swing and tennis swing wouldn’t be as effective or even possible without strong external obliques.
Internal Obliques – These reside between the rib cage and external obliques, they are very similar to your external obliques and are involved in the same types of movement.
Transverse Abdominus – This muscle is hidden behind the three other abdominal muscles and acts like a sort of corset that compresses the abdomen and keeps everything in place.
Ontop of the abdominal exercises there are the muscles of the hips and lower back.
A quick tip for you to help “doming” a.k.a. beer belly, is to be aware of your trunk all day long. Don’t just work your “abs” when you exercise in the gym do it all day long, when you’re at work, driving, walking or waiting in a que and just ensure that you have an upright posture, no slouching and activate your trunk by pulling your belly button in and standing with your head up and shoulders back posture. The more you do it the more your muscles will remember to do it.
If you play sport then core strength is paramount. Developing core strength gives you power and fortifies your whole mid section area, making it much more effective in providing support for the strenuous movements your body carries out.
As I mentioned earlier nutrition is very important in achieving a good mid riff. In order to see your abs you need to get rid of what’s on top of them (body fat). This can be done by eating enough to preserve your muscle and avoiding eating too much which puts on fat. Try to avoid carbs such as potatoes, rice, pasta and bread as much as you can. Carbs are most beneficial on exercise days, so if you are exercising on a certain day then you are allowed to have more carbs. By constantly eating carbohydrates you are more likely to build up belly fat.
A healthy diet involving the right carbs, high amounts of protein, plenty of fruit, vegetables and good fats will give you the best chance of ridding your body of the unwanted belly fat and uncovering your abdominal muscles. This part (nutrition) of the programme is the most important and 70-80% of your focus should be on improving and maintaining good eating habits.
As with most muscle groups there are many different exercises that will work the muscles.
For those who are interested the single most effective exercise for working the abdominals….drum roll….. – The Squat!
The main job of your abdominal and trunk muscles is to stabalise the body, they do this lots during the squat.
Not what you expected? Its been scientifically proven that during a squat the abdominals do more work to maintain posture than they do during many popular abdominal exercises.
So eat well and make sure heavy squats with good technique are part of your routine are the best tips I can give you to getting a flatter abdominal area.
There we have it, I hope you found the post helpful and you are a bit more aware of how important your abdominals are.
Thanks for reading.
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