First, let me say that it’s not that I do NOTHING to have flat abs. I do 1 hour of cardio every day. I eat healthy food almost all of the time (I’m also human). I do Plank as my Daily 100 a couple of times a week, plus exercises for my arms- like dips and wall push-ups… but I don’t do many ab-focused exercises… This is what works for me. Might not for you, but it does for me- always has. And that’s the beauty of exercise. It’s not a one-size-fits-all prescription. It’s personalized to what works and feels good for you… SO here’s what I do:
My thighs, I swear, could grow to be monstrous, but somehow I have always had flat abs. They might not be cut into a six-pack or super skinny, but they have always been flat and tone (even when I gain some weight and it expands a bit). I have always had a firm and perky butt. It might not be small (it’s a definite bubble butt), but it’s always stayed up and stayed strong (even when I gain some weight and it widens a bit). In fact, my butt and abs are my two favorite body parts, as I tend to gain my weight in my thighs and arms. You could say it runs in the family (though seemingly not in mine, unless I was unknowingly adopted). You could say it’s because I regularly workout (as we know- cardio and diet are essential to flat abs). But it’s more than that- it’s my daily healthy habits, many of which I don’t even realize I’m doing. In fact, the idea for this post came up the other day when a girlfriend of mine who I went to high school with (who is also very thin- in fact more petite than I am), commented on how I always have a firm, flat stomach and she wanted to know what I do. It was then that I realized that I actually don’t do much ab-specific work at all, and when I do I almost immediately get a 3-pack. So I decided to analyze what it was that I “did” to keep my abs flat.
Flex My Abs… ALL THE TIME
This is one thing that I learned at a very young age (like 6 years old) as an ice skater- always stand up straight, shoulders back, and abs engaged as if I’m wearing a corset. Imagine zipping up your waist belly button to chest, cinching (not sucking) that belly it in, preparing to get socked in the stomach- flex! It took work to do it at first, but now I seem to always engage my abs- I mean always. Doesn’t matter if I’m working out, driving, working on the computer (like now), or just kicking back watching TV- my abs are always engaged. In fact, it feels weird to me to not engage them. I attribute this one habit to why I have always had flat abs (even when I have been a little bit overweight). Of course, if you are very overweight, it doesn’t matter how strong your abs are, you will still have flab hanging off your stomach. Beyond looking good, a strong core contributes to a strong spine and correct posture.
Squeeze My Butt EVERY Time I Walk up Stairs or even just Step up onto a Curb
I use my butt to propel me up, squeezing those muscles with each step. Each squeeze makes my butt just a bit more lifted and firm. Lots of little steps over my lifetime later and, even if I gain weight and it’s a bit wider, it’s always perky and firm.
I Choose Exercise Ball as my Office Chair
Sitting on an Exercise Ball instead of a traditional chair at work is one of the easiest passively active ways to tone your abs, thighs and butt, while releasing your spine and forcing you to sit up straight- helping your posture. After the first day, you will notice a difference. After a week, you won’t even feel it anymore. But your muscles will be slowly but surely trimming, toning, and lifting without you even knowing it. Gotta love that!
Fidget and Wiggle
Instead of sitting still, I try to remember to fidget and wiggle. Fidgeters burn up to 350 more calories a day than couch potatoes.
Butt Squeezes, Heel Raises, Stomach Crunches
These are my fave discreet do-anywhere exercises that you can pretty much do anywhere without anyone knowing that you’re working out and without any equipment, expense, or even time. I do butt squeezes in a movie theater and when brushing my teeth, stomach crunches in the car (big fast exhale and squeeze your abs… repeat), and heel raises (which push up the butt) in an elevator or waiting in line.
Stand up, Pace, or Walk on the Phone
When I need to talk on the phone, I make sure I am either standing up, pacing, or even out on a walk (which is the best)! It’s the Walk and Talk. In other words, if you get a phone call and you know it’s going to be a conversation lasting more than 5 minutes, do one of two things:
-Start marching in place
If you’re not quite ready to walk, ask the caller to ring you back in 5 minutes and make sure you’re out the door and on a walk by the time the phone rings. Sure, it makes it so you’re a little breathy whenever you’re on the phone, but you’re burning a few extra calories and slipping in a quick blip of exercise that you normally wouldn’t have thought you could fit in.
Really can’t get out and walk, just stand up! You burn an average of 70 calories an hour by just standing up. Watch a couple of your favorite shows and you’ll be at 100 calories in no time… well, in about an hour and a half.
Eat A Grapefruit Everyday
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what works and what doesn’t, but studies do show that people who consumed half a grapefruit three times a day, before every meal lost an average of 3.6 pounds after 3 months. Another study showed that upping your Vit C (like in grapefruit) can help you burn 30% more fat while working out. AND citrus is a known fat-fighter, minimizing fats’ effectiveness and actually liquefying the sticky stuff (particularly in the stomach), making it less likely to latch on and bulk you up. Thankfully, I love grapefruit and eat one a day.
Might sound trite, but correct breathing is not just an essential building block to fitness, but also to weight loss, if, that is, you do it correctly. 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. You just did a crunch!