Most of us, at some stage or another, have wished for a flatter and firmer tummy. With age and diet, it is often the layer of fat around our bellies – affectionately referred to as the spare tyre or muffin top – that shows the first signs of weight gain. Don’t worry! You are not alone, and as with all aspects of weight loss, there are two crucial elements in tackling your tummy. The first is your diet: what you eat regularly is going to have a 90% effect on the state of your belly. The second element is your training. Exercising is going to burn fat and tone up those tummy muscles.
Key steps to flattening those abs:
Focusing on your abs alone is not going to make any marked improvements on your post-baby belly. Improving your general fitness and burning fat overall are important steps to flattening that tummy.
1.) AS WITHIN SO WITHOUT:
Diet plays the most important role in getting back into shape, and flattening your tummy is no different.
– Simplify your eating patterns. Too much wheat, sugar, alcohol or processed food will have a direct effect on the shape of your stomach. Eating less of these and more high fibre foods will promote a healthier digestive system and help fight the jelly belly.
– It may seem like a contradiction, but it takes plenty of water to beat the bloat. If you aren’t getting enough, your body will hold onto fluid to fight dehydration. 250 ml for every 10 kgs of your body weight is your minimum daily requirement.
– Eat more probiotic yoghurt or take a probiotic supplement. This speeds up the digestion process so that food has less time to sit in your system, meaning a flatter tummy overall.
– Say no to salty snacks. Foods like crisps and pretzels cause your body to retain water in an effort to dilute your sodium levels. Try keeping your salt intake down to 2000mg day.
– Don´t forget the fibre! Women in particular need at least 25 grams to aid digestion, yet many of us barely take in half that amount. Apart from bran, fruits like strawberries, blueberries and dried fruits are filled with fibre. Don´t be too hasty, though, as too much fibre can cause constipation – ease it into your diet slowly, particularly during breakfast time.
– Hold back on the beans – and cruciferous veggies like cauliflower and cabbage. These contain sugars some people struggle to digest. Don’t forego them entirely, simply minimize your helpings down to half a cup at a time.
2.) Practise high intensity cardio and interval training.
Shaking up a steady-state cardio routine to one that is varied and explosive has been proven to target more abdominal fat. This is perhaps because you will not only burn more calories during the session, but afterwards as well. The exertion of varying intensities will stimulate your body’s repair cycle more than if you were going for a steady state run. This means more fat and calories burnt for up to 24 hours after training.
– Switch up your usual run with 20 seconds of sprinting followed by 60 seconds of jogging or walking. Repeat these intervals 15-20 times each session. As you progress the 20 secs can become 30-40 secs and the rests can reduce to 20- 30 secs.
– Don’t switch all your cardio sessions to high intensity interval training. Aim for two sessions a week, along with one or two regular 30-60 min cardio sessions.
3.) Compound movements for lean mass and increased metabolism.
Strength training plays a critical part in toning your abs, as well as the rest of the body. Muscle requires fuel to operate, so the more lean muscle you have, the more calories you burn throughout the day, and the higher your metabolism. Compound exercises are multi-jointed movements, while isolation exercises only use one. Many people accredit isolated exercises to significant results, but compound exercises are responsible for greater calorie burns during sessions as well as increasing lean muscle tissue at a greater rate , therefore improving your resting metabolism.
Be sure to incorporate compound movements into your strength training sessions, dont only focus solely on your ab exercise.
4.) Target the abs – ALL of them!
The abdominals are made up of different muscles on the front, side and middle of the abdominal area. Yet, so often we focus only on the desired ‘six-pack’. Targeting all three of these muscle groups is crucial when it comes to sculpting your abs.
Rectus abdominis – This is the flat muscle running from the chest to pelvic area, popularly referred to as the ‘six pack’.
Internal and external obliques – They are located on either side of the body, attaching on to the ribs. You’ll feel these when you turn and twist your torso. These are responsible for creating that hourglass look in the torso.
The transverse abdominis – This internal muscle forms the innermost layer of the abdominal wall. Tightening and firming this muscle is the key to flatter abs.