For many gym goers the ultimate ambition is to have a toned chiselled midsection but they struggle to get their abdominal muscles showing for a variety of reasons, so let’s look at some of the reasons you may not have the abs you desire.
The view that you must do 1000’s of crunches or sit ups a day to get a 6 pack is all over social media, tv and in magazines. Everyone reads or watches these and probably tries it because they would like to have one and look like the shredded cover model demonstrating the exercises. It may make sense to you, that to get your six pack, you need to do as many ab exercises as you can manage every single day of the week.
WAKE UP CALL!
Now whilst this may seem like the most obvious solution you are more than likely increasing your risk of injuring the opposing muscles which can lead to debilitative pain and restrictions, most commonly in your lower back. Your training will not be balanced and can lead to poor posture (I’m sure you don’t do hundreds of back extensions also). Luckily for you, there is a much simpler way. By incorporating some simple, healthy, lifestyle changes into your routine you should start to see results.
Who slouches over a desk? Why do you end up in this position? Is this the same position you are in when you perform crunches? It’s extremely likely your back and other core muscles haven’t had the same amount of attention which is needed to balance your muscles (if you have gone mad with the crunches). This can lead to bad posture and potential lower back problems
When you do a crunch, you are working around 6-7muscles, but the action of performing a crunch does not activate all the other core muscles needed to support the abdominal's to maintain a good posture, reduce your risk of injury and help you perform day to day activities.
Treat your abdominal muscles like any other muscle you train. You wouldn’t squat are chest press every single day, so why would you train your abs like that. When you train your abs, we suggest 2-3 times a week, or every other day if you must! You do not need to do train them every day as it increases your risk of injury and bad posture and it is the repair and recovery that is so important in making you stronger.
What are the best exercises for a strong mid section?
Planks are a great exercise to train and build your core strength (as long as you don’t have high blood pressure). They encourage you to tighten your tummy and back muscles to avoid sagging towards the floor, they also use the pelvic floor and transverse abdominal''s which are deeper muscles. Over time, strengthening these core muscles will flatten and show a much more toned stomach, and protecting your back at the same time.
Some other great exercises that work your core include supermans, squats, front squats, deadlifts, barbell row…
To see abdominal definition, it is as simple as dropping your body fat percentage. We all have abs but doing 500 crunches and 100 sit ups is not going to provide you with the body fat burn you need. No number of crunches and sit-ups are going to burn this layer of fat because it is a small muscle group.
You need to be doing exercises which use large muscle groups e.g. squats and deadlifts and you need to incorporate some cardio; high intensity intervals using full body exercises are best to burn fat.
You also can’t remove body fat from one area, it must be an ‘all over’ approach. There are areas which are harder to shift fat from, and unfortunately, especially in men the stomach is one of these areas.
To reveal your abdominal muscles and get those 6 pack muscles showing, men need to be between a body fat percentage of about 6-9% and women 16-19%, ( these figures are approximate and everyone is individual, genetics also play a part). The recommended guidelines for a healthy body fat percentage is 15-20% for men and 20-25% for women. Women have a higher body fat percentage due to the nature of their bodies being designed and built for supporting a baby.
If your body fat percentage drops below this then it can start to cause health issues and is not realistically sustainable long term. We need a certain level of fat to make our bodies function properly, regulating temperature, allowing absorption of essential nutrients and vitamins. In men this figure is 3 % and in women it’s around 13%.
Low body fat occurs when you create a calorie deficit by concentrating on the foods you are eating and burning calories through working out. It is important to have a healthy diet as this will contribute to you looking more muscular and toned. You need a diet high in protein, whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables and restrict processed, added sugar, refined carbohydrate foods.
Below are some guidelines in achieving body fat loss.
Eat about 15-20% below the number of calories it takes from you to maintain your current weight.
Eat a good source of lean protein with each meal e.g. fish, chicken, turkey, egg whites, protein powder, soy beans, lentils.
Avoid or cut down on refined carbs such as white bread and white rice, cakes, cookies…
Drink plenty of water
Eat healthy fats as these can actually help burn fat.
Stop doing millions of crunches and sit ups
Start planking and doing compound exercises using large muscle groups.
Not only will reducing your body fat allow a sneaky look at your abs, it reduces the risk of a number of debilitating diseases, improves your energy and makes you more able to carry out day to day tasks.
Basically, to sum it up, doing 100 crunches a day is not going to make you lose fat from your tummy, neither will any products that claim to do so. You need to eat healthily, combine resistance and cardio sessions and take proper rest for recovery!
Getting a six pack is about dropping body fat and increasing lean muscle mass, NOT how many crunches or ab exercises you can do every hour! Spend your time planning some healthy meals, working on your core using plank style exercises or larger body compound exercises, and include some high intensity intervals to help burn fat!
For more information on reducing your body fat or incorporating a fitness and resistance program into your routine to help aid fat loss please feel free to get in contact with us at firstname.lastname@example.org and book in for a FREE consultation and taster session.