Stop with the hundreds of crunches already! You see, you can crunch until the cows come home and still have a muffin top folding over your jeans. The reason? When you’re doing those hundreds of daily sit-ups you are actually extinguishing all of the oxygen from your muscles, essentially you are suffocating them as opposed to strengthening them. This doesn’t mean that crunches are pointless. But there are techniques you can do to make your ab-routine more effective and efficient, giving you better results in less time- as little as 5-minutes a day!
If you want to have fab abs, it’s a 5-prong approach:
1. AMPED UP AB EXERCISES
If you want to make the most of your ab routine, you’ve got to amp it up. How? Change it up. Try:
This seemingly simple move fires up the abs thanks to a combination of pumping arms and 45-degree legs.
Amp up this exercise even more by holding a 3-5 lb weight!
-Yoga Boat Pose
This simple hold engages the core for an enduring burn.
-Sit-Ups on the Ball
The ball allows you to stretch your abs further, creating length within the crunch.
Yes, the Pilates pose, also known as the “top of a pushup,” is a surprisingly intense full body strength practice, placing particular focus on the abs. Up it with Side Plank to get into your obliques!
2. AB-CENTRIC CARDIO
Fact is that if your stomach is covered by fat, no one’s going to see those fab abs that you’ve been sculpting. If you want to trim your tummy, you’ve got to work on cutting the fat first. How? Cardio. Don’t worry, those sit-ups weren’t for not. Once you get rid of the flab, you will still have some pretty fab abs hiding out and ready for their long awaited big reveal!
Try 30 to 45 minutes of heart-pumping cardio at least three to five days a week. Some cardio activities engage the abs more than others. Choose exercises that require rotation such as racquetball, surfing and cross-country skiing, belly dancing, kickboxing or power yoga. The more body parts and muscles that you engage at once, the more calories you will burn. Each of these can burn up to 600 calories per hour!
3. DIET: 6-PACK ABS ARE MADE IN THE KITCHEN
Cindy reminds us that 70% of ab appeal has nothing to do with exercise, but diet. If you really want to see a difference in your stomach, you’ve got to change your diet.
-Mini Meals are Key
Mini meals keep fat away since your body is tasked to digest smaller portions at a time- therefore leaving less excess to go into storage (fat storage). Plus, if you require your metabolism to work multiple times a day, it will function more efficiently, burning up even more fat! Eat 5 to 6 small meals a day to keep the fat away!
-Eat Fat for Flat Abs
The Mediterranean Diet is all about loading up on “good fats” like olive oil, fatty fish, avocado, nuts and seeds, all of which have been shown to prevent belly fat from bulking up.
-Fat Burning, Flushing and Break Down Foods
Fat-burning foods are a great way to trim the fat. Seriously- “Hot herbs,” naturally heat up the body. As they add heat, they are actually helping to increase digestion, circulation, and the metabolism. Hot herbs include Fresh Ginger, Szechuan Peppercorn, Cayenne Pepper, and Cinnamon Bark.
-Citrus fruits are high in Vitamin C- a known fat fighter that liquefies the sticky stuff, making it less likely to latch on and bulk you up. Two of the most potent include Tangerine peel and Grapefruit.
-Lecithin, the naturally occurring chemical found in soybeans and nuts, keeps fat from being absorbed by your cells, flushing them out before they have a chance to bind to your body.
-Liquid calories count
Cut the sodas out of your diet. The carbonation and sodium makes you bloated, not to mention expanding your stomach which may cause hunger pains and constant mindless eating. Water is king. Don’t like it? Add an EmergenC (you’ll get the added benefit of fat-burning Vitamin C too)!
4. JUST BREATHE
While working your muscles, proper form and breathing are important to achieve flat abs. First create a neutral spine. Pretend your core is a corset, pull your ribcage down, engage your abs by pulling your bellybutton in and exhale on every contraction.
5. STOP STRESSING!
Because the abdominal area has a greater blood supply (remember, all of your vital organs are stored in there), it’s a big target for the stress hormone cortisol. When you’re under constant pressure, cortisol levels remain high and your body deposits more fat on your abs. A great way to stop stressing? Exercise- yet another reason to move that booty!