Washboard abs, six-pack abs, and Britney Spears abs. Whatever you call it, you will agree that the abdominal muscles are the body parts that men and women obsesses about the most for good reasons. The abs, or the core muscles, become the aesthetic centerpiece of a fit body and the functional anchor of both daily life activities and whole body exercises.
But the core muscles are also the most challenging to train! Many people then quit early in the game when they don’t see the results they want, whether it’s a flat stomach or abs with more definition. But many more people also persevere in their goals, as well as apply the following tips in turning their flab into fab muscles.
Start with a Good Nutrition Foundation
Your body requires proper nutrition to burn fat, build muscles and function normally. For this reason, you should start with regular and proper food consumption designed for overall fat loss. In fact, you have to decrease your body fat levels so that you will see your desired muscle definition around your midsection.
The desirable body fat levels differ between men and women although the nutritional practices in both sexes are similar, if not the same. Men can get muscle definition with 8% to 10% body fat levels while women can achieve it at around 12% to 15% levels.
While counting calories and aiming for ideal carbs, fat and protein ratios have their merits in fat loss, these aren’t the be-all and end-all of decreasing body fat levels. Keep in mind that fat loss effectively occurs when the body gets sufficient protein for maintaining current muscle mass and adequate carbs for successful fat loss. In general, adults need at least 1.2 kilos of protein per kilo of body mass and between 10 and 100 grams of carbs.
You have to remember, too, that your body will respond in a different manner to nutritional practices. If possible, you must work with a dietitian to formulate the best muscle-building diet plan for your needs. You may, for example, be averse to eating meat so other protein sources can be found, such as fish, eggs and protein-rich vegetables.
Perform Effective Exercises for the Entire Body and the Midsection
Many people think that performing a thousand crunches and sit-ups a day will do the trick of turning flab to fab core muscles but this isn’t so. This is because the core muscles’ definition can only be observed if and when the surrounding muscles have also undergone a physical transformation. Besides, a muscled chest will be less aesthetically pleasing with less developed core muscles, aside from being weaker in actual strength.
While cardio exercises, especially high-intensity interval training, are also essential in body fat loss, these should be complemented by resistance training and/or weight bearing exercises. But don’t just dive right into resistance training exercises because there are more effective movements including:
- Bench presses
- Power clean
- Reverse bent over row
- Military press
Basically, you have to focus more on core and compound exercises like the above-mentioned examples because these activate more muscle fibers and motor units. These exercises recruit more of your body’s muscles in performing the movements. You will then enjoy two main benefits, namely, burn more fat and work several muscle groups simultaneously – and that’s how you get defined core muscles in a shorter amount of time.
But don’t forget your cardio exercises, too. Your best bet is high-intensity interval cardio, such as the spin classes offered at gyms like 24 Hour Fitness, because these allow the body to burn fat 48 hours after the exercise session. You will not only get a more intense and fun exercise but you’re also burning higher amounts of fat.
Deal with Stress Better
Stress has its place in our lives despite the negative press about it – think of it as keeping us on our toes and keeping our fight-or-flight response intact. But when stress becomes your constant companion, then it becomes harmful to your physical and mental health. Plus, it will affect your goal toward fab abs!
This is because sustained stress increases the release of cortisol, a hormone with a crucial role in energy metabolism. But abnormally high levels of cortisol also contributes to body fat accumulation and catabolism of muscle mass, both of which aren’t good for your goal.
You should then decrease the stress in your life by adopting more effective coping mechanisms. Your stress may come from your work, personal relationships, and even your excessive training. You can decrease your stress from these areas by cutting down on your training program, for example, which will also give your body time to repair itself and prepare for the next training session.
Of course, you have to be patient and persistent in your diet and exercise program. You will not be able to transform your flab to fab abs within a month or two so sticking to your program is a must for success.