I’m constantly asked what is the best way to get abs? The truth is, there is no “best” way or “only” way to go when it comes to getting a toned midsection. Everyone is different and make take a different approach when it comes to leaning down; that being said, I have a few suggestions that tend to work for most people. Here are my top five tips to chiseling your own six pack:
Tip #1: Watch what you eat. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many people workout like crazy and eat garbage, still expecting results. There are also those who eat “healthy” junk foods and count calories that still do not have chiseled abs. What gives? Our bodies were made for pure, wholesome foods straight from Mother Nature’s kitchen. When we eat 100 calorie snack packs, processed foods (i.e. Lean Cuisine, cereals, breads, granola, etc.) and man-made juices, colas, fast foods, and such, our body doesn’t know what to do with all the unnatural “stuff.” So it stores the junk that it doesn’t know how to process (into cellulite, acne, and dandruff to name a few), and tries to use the rest as “low-grade” food for our “premium” fueled bodies. I could go on and on from here about what this does to our bodies, but I’ll stop and just reinforce the basic truth—whole, natural, unprocessed foods fuel our bodies and give us energy, glowing skin, clear eyes, shiny hair, and bingo—less body fat.
Tip #2: Train your core—but not too much. I know it seems common sense, right? Believe it or not, there can be a difference in training your abs and training your core. How so? Look at the muscles you are activating. If your idea of working out your abs is doing crunches, sits ups, and the like, then you are training your abs (more specifically your rectus abdominis, the superficial abdominals responsible for flexion). If, however, you do oblique work, planks, and functional stability exercises (either alone or in conjunction with other abdominal work), then you are working your core. Why the emphasis on the difference? By limiting yourself to only flexion-type exercises, you are actually setting yourself up for potential injury. Why? Our bodies were not made to constantly bend forward (especially with added weight) over and over and over. Just like with anything in life, balance is key. You need to balance the rest of the abdominal muscles (internal and external obliques and transversus abdominis) to help support the spine, provide a strong “trunk,” help the body to move with ease, prevent injury, and to show off a sculpted midsection. We need to train more than just the superficial abs (rectus abdominis)— we need to also train the remaining core muscles. Technically, the rectus abdominis and the aforementioned abdominals are all “abs” and “core” muscles, but I’m trying to give you a visual.
Make sure not to over train your abs; they are just like every other muscle group and need to be treated as such—meaning there is no need to train your abs every single day. There is also no need to do 1,000 sit ups/crunches—it is overkill and doesn’t make any sense. Start off training your core one time per week if you are new at this. If you are more advanced, do two times per week. Some people go up to three times per week, but again, I feel that this is unnecessary. If you over train your muscles, they will constantly be “broken down” (if done correctly), which means that they will never have the opportunity to rebuild and repair. This, at a minimum will not deliver the desired results and worse-case-scenario will result in injury. Make sure to have adequate rest and recovery time between workouts (48-72 hours) and never train a sore muscle.
This is part one of two on how to turn your keg into a six pack. Check out next edition’s tips #3-5 to find out more.
Crystal Manjarres is the owner of One- On-One Fitness, a private personal training and Pilates studio for men and women on Marco Island. She is a certified personal trainer and Stott Pilates certified instructor. Her focus is “Empowering men and women of all shapes and sizes”. To send in a question, email Crystal@PinkIslandFitness.com. She can also be reached at www. PinkIslandFitness.com or www.101FIT.com and (239) 333-5771.