When it comes to looking in shape, the abs are one of the most targeted areas of the body. Nothing screams physically fit quite like a well-cut core. The stomach area is also one of the hardest areas to exercise and tone. For one, the abdominal muscles that you’re trying to tighten lie at the bottom of the ribcage in an area in which a lot of excess body fat is stored. Even if you have great, firm abs, if you have a lot of fat, your abdominal muscles will still be hidden underneath a layer of fat. Your abs are also difficult to shape up because most of us don’t exactly use our stomach muscles on an every day basis. Getting visible, cut abs takes time. That being said, there are a few ways to maximize your workout and see better results in less time.
We’ve all seen those infomercial products that claim they’ll give you great abs in no time at all. Well, they might be good at working out your abdominal muscles, but they still aren’t guaranteed to get you that six-pack you’ve been working towards. Why? Those types of devices don’t do anything to eliminate the belly fat that covers your abs. Nevertheless, having strong and cut abs underneath your belly fat is the first step towards a bathing-suit-ready stomach, and some exercise machines are better than others when it comes to working out your core.
You can begin your ab workout routine with simple crunches and sit-ups. Once you’ve grown comfortable with that, move on to a more intense ab exercise like the plank (lay down keeping your legs straight and raise your feet off the floor). Keep in mind that your standard crunches are not the most effective exercise when it comes to toning up your core. The most effective abdominal exercises according to a recent study by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) can be found here.
So now that you know how to tone your core, how do you go about getting rid of that layer of belly fat that’s keeping your amazing abs from shining through? Diet and cardio. Cardio exercises are possibly even more important than ab workouts when it comes to getting cut abs. No matter how many sit-ups you can do, you’ll never have defined abs so long as belly fat is covering your muscles. Running, rowing, swimming, and cycling are all excellent ways to reduce your body fat. No matter which exercise works best for you, it’s important to get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day to melt away your fat. As your fitness improves, think about extending that 30 minutes to 45 or even an hour to help improve the effectiveness of your workout.
Dieting is also important for killer abs. This is often the hardest part for most people. If you eat more calories than you burn with your workouts, you will not lose fat. It’s really that simple – take in less calories than you’re burning. Eating breakfast every day and focusing on protein and carbohydrates will go a long way. Avoid fats and refined sugars. Instead, substitute those options with whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. If you work in an office, start packing your lunch instead of going out to fast food. That’ll save you both calories and money. Also, replace your mid-afternoon candy bar with some baby carrots or an apple. Cutting back on needless, empty calories will help you improve the cut of your core.
So there you have it, the Rockhead’s guide to rock-hard abs.