Abs are one of the toughest muscle groups to tone. As this article explains, fat loss slows as you lose weight, which means it’s not easy to lose those last five pounds. And yet that’s what you need to do for a truly chiseled look.
This doesn’t mean you should give up and assume that flat, tight abs are unattainable. It just means that you are going to have to commit to eating well and working out long term.
Here’s what it takes to lose belly fat and get flat, tight abs:
I recommend getting some type of cardio in every day, regardless of what your fitness goals are. That could look as mild as a 30-minute walk for some.
But if you are really committed to losing belly fat, you’re going to have to step it up a bit. Push yourself to do high-intensity sprint intervals, which is where you alternate 30 seconds to one minute of all out effort with 30 seconds to one minute of low to moderate effort.
The great thing about sprint intervals is that you can do them in a variety of setting. Some of my clients enjoy running, so I have them alternate between a jog and a sprint. Others prefer to do their intervals on the elliptical or a stationary bike.
Target the abdominals with exercises geared specifically for that muscle group. Try controlled ab crunches and leg extension lifts, with a hold during each contraction. I also recommend one minute each of bicycles, pop ups, and v’ups with no rest during your transitions.
Abs are an endurance muscle. Instead of shooting for a certain number of reps, set a time and push yourself to the point of failure. Then do it all over again, with a three breath max break in between exercises.
To be honest, these are the exact exercises I have my clients do in my abs class. So what makes the class so special if I can just share all my tips here?
As you’ll notice, it’s extremely hard pushing yourself to go from one exercise to the next when your abs are screaming at you to stop. My abs class helps you stay motivated and keeps you in the correct form even when it hurts. It’s the pain that tells you you’re making progress, and it’s important not to back off when it starts to burn. Your mind will give out before your muscles, and a trainer like me keeps the momentum going to the point where you’ll actually see results.
For a lot of people (okay, maybe everyone), carbs go straight to the belly. I don’t want to villainize fruit, which is actually quite good for you in moderation. Rather, I’m talking about all the grains we eat. Even in their refined form, grains will limit your ability to lose the belly fat and get the abs of your dream.
I encourage all of my clients to stick to a Paleo diet, with one cheat day per week. Not all of them follow my diet advice, but the ones that do see a dramatic difference in their weight loss and many are able to achieve flat, tight abs as a result.
Image from The U.S. Army