1. Remember Abs Are Made In The Kitchen
You’ve heard it before, but abs really are made in the kitchen. If you’re over 17% body fat (the national average is between 20-32%; around 15% is a very athletic figure and around 25% is someone who is interested in fitness and works out fairly regularly) then diet is key – losing body fat will help to reveal your abs and create the appearance of a more toned stomach. There are no miracle foods, but if you eat around your maintenance calories (the number of calories you can eat per day without putting on or losing weight) or slightly less every day and train four to five times per week, you’ll lose body fat. Consistency is key and tracking your calorie needs on MyFitnesPpal can help.
2. Focus On Your Core In Every Session
Unless you’re already very lean (in which case you should work your abs three times a week with varying intensity), you should aim to do some overall core work in each session. Strengthening your core will make it easier for your body to perform things like deadlifts and squats – think of it as performance training rather than body shape changing.
3. Plan Your Gym Sessions
If you’re on a mission to strengthen your core and tone your tummy, consider bookending your gym session with some core activation at the beginning and finishing with some more isolated and challenging moves.
4. Try A Rollout
There’s no one exercise move that will give you abs, but some sort of rollout variation is one of the best you can do. Whether it’s a TRX fall out , ball rollout or ab wheel rollout, countless studies have shown these kinds of movements create the most activation of abdominal muscles compared to other direct core exercises.
5. Look To Social Media For Motivation
Whether you struggle to stay motivated or need some inspiration for your next session, look to Instagram. Coaches such as Tony Gentilcore , Dr John Rusin, Jordan Syatt and Brett Contreras offer great, qualified advice on both nutrition and workouts.
6. Supercharge Your Plank
Planks are a great way to tone your abs but try an RKC plank for even better results. The RKC plank is essentially a maximum effort plank – to do it correctly you need to generate as much tension as possible throughout your entire body from your toes all the way to your fists. The primary problem with the traditional plank is the lack of deep core activation over an extended period of time; the RKC plank, however, will activate your glutes and abs for a stronger body.
7. Forget Crunches
Crunches may be lauded as one of the best exercises for your core but they’re not all they’re cracked up to be. The crunch hits a very small muscle group so if you’re time poor then you’re far better off doing a deeper exercise to target the entire core. There’s also the issue of repeated bouts of spinal flexion – countless crunches can lead to overuse of the spinal flexors, which can lead to lower back and spinal disc injuries.
8. Try Pilates If You’re A Beginner
If you’re a total beginner and looking to tone up and develop your core strength, it could be worth skipping the gym and trying yoga and Pilates instead. The majority of beginners will need to work on their skeletal alignment and if you aren’t 100% sure what you’re doing in the gym, the likes of yoga and Pilates can be a great way to get going.
9. Avoid Excessive Cardio
One of the biggest mistakes I see women making when it comes to their abs is doing too much cardio and direct core training. The aim should always be to get the biggest bang for your buck – not that cardio isn’t important, but strength work and higher intensity work should also be in your weekly plan. Aim for three strength sessions, one or two intensity-based cardio sessions and one longer duration/steady state cardio for real results.
10. Be Patient
It’s never too late to start toning your tummy, but one week really isn’t enough time to see results – so if you’re going on a holiday or have a special occasion coming up, dedicate as much time as you can in advance. All too often, people overdo their training and over-restrict their diet, which can cause havoc long term – think metabolism issues and injury. When it comes to body composition you need to be patient; exercise and nutrition should be looked at as a lifestyle overhaul and not a short-term fix.
For more information or to book a session with Andy, visit AndyVincentPT.com
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