Abdominal muscles, or abs, aren’t actually made in the kitchen. They are made in the gym, however they are revealed in the kitchen.
First up, if you are looking to have rock hard abs – I’m talking about walking on a stage in a bikini type of abs, then check out this article from PN: The cost of getting lean.
However, for most of us, we are looking for some nice muscle definition, and a flat belly. And to do that, we need to not only need to build muscle, but burn fat too.
In terms of your workouts, we want to be focusing on using as many muscles as possible. Exercises that use several muscle groups are called compound movements, which is what we want to focus on. Forget about doing 100 crunches a day, it would be more beneficial to plank, or to do weighted squats. Then we want to look at our intensity. This doesn’t mean doing burpees until you see abs, but rather about the intent behind your exercises. For example, you want to squat as if you have 200kgs on your back, even if it’s only 20kgs, or even bodyweight!
For most, exercise is the easy part, and the tough part, which is the key to your results here, is nutrition.
Making sure you are including foods that have protein and healthy fats such as quinoa, nuts, berries, as well as beans and legumes will help you burn fat. The healthy fats regulate the hormones that burn fat while you sleep, and the protein will help you slim down and start to reveal those ab muscles.
Having visible, defined ab muscles is about 80% nutrition and 20% exercise, which means it’s time to start owning up to what’s really part of your diet that maybe shouldn’t be. But this isn’t a short term thing. You need to understand that having abs as a goal, can take a long time. But remember, the more consistent you are, the quicker you will see your abs coming through.
So, here are our top 5 tips on how to get abs:
1. Cut back on processed foods. Eat protein, healthy fats and fibre rich foods. Replace simple carbs with complex carbs. Keep your treats to once a week, rather than every few days. Practice saying no to the ‘free’ donuts in the lunch room. After all, what are they really costing you?
2. Focus on full body or compound movements instead of crunches. Crunches have their time and place, but aren’t really a good exercise in getting bang for your buck. You know what works out not just your abs better, but your entire core? Holding a weight above your head. You don’t need fancy moves, just do the basics, and do them well. Another thing to think about is activating your core during exercise. Pretend you’re in a really bumpy car ride and you need to pee – stop yourself from peeing – that is your pelvic floor muscle. Your pelvic floor is literally the core of your body, and is one of the most important muscles to activate!
3. Play the long game. Having visible abs can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few years, depending on your body fat percentage. Losing 1% bodyfat per month is an achievable and sustainable goal. Using this, you can work out roughly how long it will take you to get down to a body fat % where your abs will show. It is different for men and women, with 10% or less for men and women less than 20%. At these levels, you will not only have visible abs, but your whole body will be toned all over.
4. Be prepared. Preparing your own food is key. Not only will you know what’s in your food, but you will also know how much you should be eating, and not overeat simply because it is in front of you. It also helps to know your triggers. For example, if the 3pm vending machine chocolate run is becoming a habit, set yourself an alarm to eat a piece of fruit, or carrot sticks with hummus at 2.30pm until that habit is well and truly gone.
5. Follow the program. It’s all about consistency. You cannot half ass your workouts, take up the free snacks in the lunch room or grab UberEats every other day and expect your abs to come out to play. You need a plan. A fitness plan, and a nutrition plan. Commit to them, and then watch as your abs start revealing themselves to you.
If you need any help with your nutrition or workout plans, you can reach out to us here.