Everyone has their main areas where they want to lose weight and tone up, but most people can agree that their stomach would be the main target. Achieving flat, toned abs is a common goal among people who set out on a fitness journey to transform their bodies. However, pushing out hundreds of sit ups at high speed isn’t going to get you there! There are other crucial factors that come into play if you want to reap the best results.
Ab exercises are important to strengthen and tone your muscles, but your efforts will be futile if there’s too much fat surrounding this area. You can have a strong core without showing a six pack. Cardio such as running or whole body strength training is a fantastic way to torch fat. You don’t have to go overboard either – just 30 minutes a day four times a week will be enough to help lose that extra body fat and help your abs pop through! If you’re time short and can’t get to the gym, doing exercises that work several large muscle groups at once are also a good option that you can do at home. Try some of these:
- Burpees: stand straight with your feet hip width apart. Lower into a squat, then reach your hands and lay them flat on the floor, shoulder width apart with fingers facing forward. Jump your legs back to land in a plank position. Now simply reverse the movement! Launch your knees back towards your chest and drive up through your feet to jump into a standing position.
- Jump squats: Stand straight with your hip-width apart. Hinge forward at the hips and push your butt back, bending your knees to lower into a squat. Push through your legs and jump into the air, extending your legs straight. Land with soft knees and repeat.
- Mountain climbers: Brace yourself in a plank position with your arms fully extended. Pull one knee towards your chest then kick it back out as your other knee comes in to form a running motion. If you’re feeling particularly strong, do a pushup between every six mountain climbers.
Even with cardio, hundreds of sit ups aren’t going to give you the results you’re after. The key is variety and to exercise different sections of your abdominals: upper, lower and obliques. Here are some exercises that you can try to feel the burn in muscles you may not have known existed!
- Upper abs – bicycle crunches: This is a common ab exercise that will wake up your upper abs! Lie flat on your back with your arms in tabletop position and your hands behind your head. Lift your head off the floor into a slight crunch, then extend one leg out so it’s parallel to the floor. At the same tie, twist your torso towards the opposite knee. Bring your leg back to tabletop, return to centre and repeat on the opposite side.
- Lower abs – straight leg raise: Lie flat on your back and lift your legs to extend straight up towards the ceiling so your body is at a 90 degree angle. Brace your core and lower your legs slowly towards the ground, then raise them back up again. Be careful to not arch your back as you lower your legs.
- Obliques – side plank: Lie on your side with your legs stacked and your elbow directly below your shoulder. Ensuring that your shoulders, hips and feet are all in line, lift your hips to assume a side plank position. You can either hold it here, or you can dip and lift your hips for an extra challenge.
Healthy weight loss is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise, so all of your hard work will probably go to waste if you decide to refuel by eating a big, cheesy slice of pizza. Eating a balanced diet packed with protein, fibre, whole grains and fruits and veggies will not only nourish your body with loads of goodness, you’ll probably feel more satisfied too. Just remember to stay mindful of how many calories you are eating – there’s plenty of healthy food that is delicious, but this doesn’t mean you can eat as much as you want without the risk of gaining weight! How much food you need per day will depend on a number of factors such as your gender, age and how active you are.
Keeping hydrated will help reduce bloating and puffiness around your stomach that hides your abdominal muscles. Drinking will also help your body flush out toxins and stimulate your metabolism. It’s recommended that both men and women drink over 2L of water everyday. If you know that you fall short of this on a daily basis, it might be time to swap out one of your coffees for a glass of water.