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A Basic Guide to Losing Belly Fat
One of the critical questions personal trainers get asked is how to achieve six-pack abs. Gym-goers spend hours slaving away in the gym, doing thousands of crunches, and get nowhere – with good reason.
Why Hundreds of Sit-Ups Won’t Work
Everyone already has a six-pack. The rectus abdominis muscle that goes vertically down the front of the belly is naturally shaped that way. However, it usually can’t be seen due to the layer of fat that sits over the top of it – and this can’t be spot reduced.
Also, over-strengthening this muscle without balancing it with other body exercises may pull the body’s posture forward. Sit-ups will continue to tone the strength lying underneath, but they won’t get rid of the fat. That’s down to good old cardio and nutrition.
Nutrition Advice to Build Lean Muscle
Low body fat is the secret to getting abs to show. Some people will be genetically predisposed to having a six-pack and may achieve washboard abs at a much higher body fat percentage than others. Some may not be able to achieve them at all.
To achieve low body fat, nutrition is essential. Making too many diet changes all at once will be difficult to maintain. What will work is a healthy, well-balanced, low-fat diet consisting of protein (lean meats, low-fat dairy, lentils, and legumes), good fats, minimal alcohol, and not too many carbs (pasta, sugary foods, potatoes, rice, etc.).
A common myth is that carbohydrates should be cut from the diet entirely. However, carbs act as a critical energy source for the body, so removing them may lead to lethargy feelings.
Cardio Training for Fat Loss
While an excellent full-body strength training program is a must for getting and maintaining a six-pack, cardiovascular exercise should also be done. Examples of cardio include running, walking, swimming, and rowing.
Long cardio sessions (one hour or more) at a medium intensity level or short, intense intervals alternated with rest periods (20-30 minutes) will burn fat and help the abs to show through.
How to Exercise the Abdominals
As it’s possible to get injured by doing abdominal exercises incorrectly, it’s a good idea to get a fitness professional to assess technique. This is especially important if lower back pain or neck pain is experienced while doing sit-ups or crunches.
Several muscles make up the abdominals, so abs-specific exercises should include a movement that twists the torso (obliques), some crunch (to target the upper belly), some leg lift (to target the lower abdomen), and something to target the inner core (transverse abdominis).
The muscles that wrap around the belly are not just for show. Strengthening the body’s core deep inside the trunk is one of the most important things to do as it can help prevent back injuries and assist with strength, posture, and balance.
Getting Washboard Abs Will Take Time
Achieving six-pack abs will likely be hard work, so it’s important not to get discouraged if they still haven’t shown up after several weeks of exercising.
Finding support will be a great help – whether it be a friend, partner, family member, or personal trainer. After that, it’s all down to genetics, full-body strength exercises, cardio, and a healthy diet.