I know that everybody wants to have abs. Everybody wants to have a tight waistline, but I feel like most people have given up on this hope for a better body, and accepted this idea that they just won’t ever have abs… But that’s not necessarily true! Most of us can really have the body that we want, the questions is however, how badly do you want it? Do you want it badly enough that you feel as though you need it? I’m not saying that you need abs to be beautiful or anything like that, but if you really want to improve your fitness, and your overall physique with a tighter waistline well here are some ways to go about it:
First of all, you’re not getting the waistline you want because of your diet. As the saying goes, “you are what you eat!” You need to be very mindful of not only how much you eat, but what you eat. When it comes to getting the flat stomach you’re looking for, abs are made in the kitchen. You need to track your food. When I’m not on show prep where my diet is very strict, repetitive, and simple, I use my fitness pal to make sure that I’m staying within the boundaries of my macro-nutrient count for the day without going over. My Fitness Pal is a great tool that is free to use! It keeps you focused, and in control of your diet. Plus, it’s so easy to use! My tip for My Fitness Pal is to use it only to track your food! DO NOT LOG IN YOUR WORKOUTS! It will count that and give you extra calories to eat… that is not a real thing! My Fitness Pal will also set your macro-nutrient and calorie goals based on the weight loss goals that you put in and so on. However, you can alter these goals to your specific needs. I would talk to a coach, nutritionist, or trainer who has a good understanding of how to calculate macros properly so that you can feel good and see the results that you want to see. It’s not just about staying within a certain amount of calories. You can’t eat 1,500 calories worth of just carbohydrates, and expect to have the body you want. You need to make sure that your diet is balanced, that you’re eating the right amount of protein, fats, and carbohydrates to maintain the muscle and shape that you want. Be mindful of what you eat, how much you eat, and how balanced your macro-nutrients are in your diet.
Secondly, doing sit-ups and crunches everyday will not shrink your waistline. I see it all the time in the gym, and clients always want to do core work. However, sit ups and all the other fancy ab workouts you see people doing on the gym mats will not do a thing for your physique if you’re not willing to change your diet. Really, you’re just wasting your time burning out your abs, and then eating cake after LOL Why even bother feverishly pumping out a billion leg lifts if you’re not going to preserve the fruits of your labor? Additionally, a lot of people are trying to do ab workouts that are way too advanced for them. Because of this, they end up doing the exercises improperly, therefore straining their back, and engaging their hip flexors more so than their abdominal muscles. If you are going to do core work (which believe me is very good in helping to chisel and shape your abdominal muscles… once your belly fat is gone/low enough to see your hard work) then please, please, please, start at a very basic level of ab work! Especially if you don’t workout on a consistent basis all year round, this basically applies to most of the population… You are not going to impress anyone with fancy workouts that aren’t really targeting your abdominal muscles because you’re not able to engage them properly while doing the exercise. However, you will impress people with your six-pack of abs 😉 So, that being said, if you are looking to target your lower abdominal muscles with leg lifts, (where you’re lying flat on the floor) here are some regression to the exercise that I would start off with:
- Lay flat on the floor with your hands flat on the floor by your sides. Lift your feet off the floor and bend your knees at 90 degrees. Keeping your knees bent, lower one leg at a time towards the floor where you simply tap your toe on the floor, and then switch.
- If that is too easy, then you can keep your legs bent at 90 degrees over your hips and lower both legs (keeping them bent) towards the floor, tap your toes and bring them back up
- Keeping your low back flat against the mat the entire time, you should only feel your abdominal muscles working, if you feel your back at any point during the exercise, re-adjust yourself, roll your hips in towards your rib cage, and squeeze your glutes while performing the exercise to keep your hips in place. If you still feel pain in your back then regress the exercise to the first option above
- Again, if both these versions of the exercise are not challenging enough then you can straighten out your legs. First try lowering one straight leg at a time. If that is challenging enough, then stay there. If not, then perform straight leg, leg lifts with both legs at the same time. Always make sure that you’re back is protected by squeezing your glutes and not arching your lower back!
It is important with any exercise that you are performing it properly, and therefore reaping the benefits! There is no point of doing any abdominal exercise a million times, if you’re going to do it a million times wrong! Suck up your pride, and work within your limits, that way as you get stronger, you can start to push your boundaries more.
Lastly, contrary to popular belief, you are working your abs all the time in every exercise, that is if you’re performing the exercises properly, and with good posture. In order to keep your core active, set your shoulders down and back, and stand tall with your chest lifted. Never round your shoulders forward, or round your spine. Don’t tilt your hips back, or push your pelvis too far forward. If you need help adjusting your posture don’t be afraid to ask someone if you’re in the proper position! Fitness Instructors, and/or trainers are more than willing to help you out! Your “core” is the center of your body. It is your back, abdominal muscles, hip flexors, and glutes, all working together to stabilize you as you move through life. Your core basically holds you up, and keeps you upright, and is always firing on and off throughout the day as you move, and exercise. YOU DON’T NECESSARILY HAVE TO DO AB SPECIFIC WORKOUTS TO TARGET YOUR ABS!!! And if you’re really looking to reduce your lower back pain, and strengthen your core, doing ab workouts is not the only solution. As I mentioned above, your glutes are a major component of your core and if they are weak, or if you are not engaging them properly, then they are affecting your low back pain, and the weakness of your core. So, if you want to improve your core, you must train your glutes, which will ultimately improve your strength, reduce your pain, and work your abs/core.
You can have the body you want, and you can have tight abs boys and girls! The key is to eat according to the body you want, and to exercise regularly! This does not mean you need to just work on your abdominal muscles, NO! You must workout your whole body, and your abdominals will always be involved. You can train your abdominal muscles specifically, but start off with the basics first and then work your way up. This will help to ensure that you are getting an effective core workout, where you are not engaging your hip flexors, and lower back.