HOW DOES THE SAYING GO, ABS ARE MADE IN THE WINTER, OR WAS IT IN THE KITCHEN? WHO CAN KEEP TRACK? THE ONLY THING THE SO-CALLED EXPERTS CAN SEEM TO AGREE ON IS THAT EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT AND THAT GETTING ABS IS HARD. END OF ARTICLE?
Despite differing opinions within the fitness community, there are some common themes that the majority can agree on and myths that need to be addressed. If you’re hoping to sport some definition in your midsection, keep reading. You can get there, provided you’re willing to put in the work.
Let’s start by making one thing clear. You can have a strong core without sporting a six-pack. Many people will claim it is more difficult for women to achieve the apex of fitness the six-pack as opposed to men. The truth of the matter is, this is not necessarily true. Achieving a six-pack depends on your body type. And that varies in both men and women. Another truth— everyone has abs. Abdominal muscles are possessed by all. The amount of fat covering the muscle determines whether it’s possible to see the sought-after six-pack. Men tend to have lower body fat than women, so it can be easier for men to have ab muscles that can be seen. But again, it’s not a hard and fast rule. Let’s take a quick look at some other common myths about developing abs.
Myth #1: Crunches alone lead to a six-pack
It is important to build your ab muscles through targeted and functional exercise, crunches are not the end all be all when it comes to core exercises. There are better exercises out there to help those abs shine through your crop top. More on that later.
Myth #2: You need to work your core muscles every day if you want to see results
Your abdominal muscles are like any other muscle in your body. They require rest and recovery. In the same way you wouldn’t work your quads every day, you should not work your core daily. This could lead to the breakdown of muscle tissue, which is counterproductive to your goal.
Myth #3: You must cut out carbs from your diet to see results.
The truth is, your body needs carbohydrates to fuel your workouts. However, not all carbs are created equal when it comes to providing energy. Foods like fruits, vegetables, and grains are nutrient-dense foods. They’re not only necessary but helpful in providing you with enough energy to complete the types of workouts helpful for building your abdominal muscles. Refined carbs can be detrimental to your gains, as they quickly convert into sugar and fat that lead to bloat and weight gain.
Reduce Your Body Fat and Build Muscle
Now that we’ve exposed some truths and myths about how to build abs, let’s get into the nitty-gritty. If you want to be able to see your abs, you’ll need to reduce your body fat to help those babies peek through. One way to lower your body fat is to aim for a calorie deficit or what’s called calorie neutrality while upping your activity and movement. A decrease in calories will cause you to lose fat, but it may also lead to muscle loss if you’re not also building muscle through increased movement.
Strength training is a sustainable and effective way to burn fat and build muscle. Not only has strength training been shown to lower body fat, but it may also reduce visceral fat, which coats the organs in your midsection.
Another way to reduce body fat is to prioritize your sleep. Many studies have linked weight loss to adequate sleep. The exact amount of sleep needed to induce weight loss may vary from person to person, but most studies find 7 hours to be the magic number when it comes to weight loss.
Lastly, if you’re looking for a workout that allows you to burn fat and build muscle, consider HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training. This type of exercise requires you to perform quick bursts of movement with short recovery periods between activities. An added perk of choosing the HIIT route for reducing body fat – it takes less training time to see results when compared to exercises such as rowing, running, or the StairMaster.
A Fat-Busting, Ab Building Workout
If you’re looking for a quick sweat to help you get started targeting those abdominal muscles, you’re in luck. Roam Loud partnered with Merylda from Bodied by Meme to bring you a great workout.
Slow Mountain Climbers
This exercise targets your core and oblique muscles while also enhancing mobility and endurance. Sounds good? Here we go!
- Start in a push-up or plank position
- Hands shoulder-width apart
- Keep your body in a straight line, hips still, abs tight
- Bring your right knee to your right elbow
- As you bring the right knee back down, bring your left knee to your left elbow
- That’s one rep. Repeat for at least 20 reps
The key to this exercise is to remember you aren’t going for speed. The slower you go, the more strength you’re building. You got it!
Flutter kicks focus on your lower abdominal muscles as well as your obliques. Secondary muscles worked in this exercise include your lower back, hip flexors, and quads. Let’s give this one a try next.
- Lay on your back with your legs out in front of you and your arms either by your side or hands under your glutes.
- Lift your legs in the air about 6 inches
- Lift your neck and shoulders off the floor slightly.
- Keep your knees locked, legs straight, toes pointed
- Slowly lift one leg slightly higher than the other, then alternate legs
- That’s one rep. Repeat for 25 reps.
The lower you keep your legs, the more difficult this exercise becomes. If you’re in need of a modification or more of a challenge, adjunct the height of your legs accordingly.
While regular crunches focus on your upper abdominal muscles, reverse crunches target your lower core muscles while taking stress off your neck and back. Here’s how to complete this exercise.
- Lay on your back, feet together out in front of you, hands by your side.
- Lift your butt and hips off the ground and bring your knees towards your head.
- Hold the position for a breath, inhale as you bring your legs back to the starting position
- That’s one rep. Repeat for twenty reps.
Last but not least, the plank hold. It’s a classic core strength-building exercise. It not only builds a strong and solid midsection, but it also aids in your body’s stability, balance and power. How long can you hold a plank? The world record for a female plank hold is four hours and 19 minutes. Insane! If you’ve ever attempted this exercise you know that’s no small feat. If you’re new to this exercise, start with a goal of 30 seconds and work your way up to 45, 60 or 90 seconds at a time. The form for this exercise is simple but important.
- Begin in the plank position. Face down with your forearms and toes and shoulder-width apart on the floor.
- Your elbows should be directly underneath your shoulders. Relax your head and neck and look down at the floor.
- Keep your torso straight as you lift your body up off the ground and maintain a straight line from the top of your head to the soles of your feet.
- Maintain this position for as long as you can. That’s one rep. Try for 3-5 reps.
Now that you have a workout and some knowledge about how to reach your fitness goals, we can’t wait to hear from you on your progress. Comment below and let us know which exercise is your favorite and why.
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