A common question we receive in the fitness industry is what can I do to work on my belly fat or what can I do to get abs?
There are a few ways we can answer this and if I am being real here, a lot of the supplement brands, fitness facilities, gyms, and online coaches overpromise with the idealism that if you train here you will get a 6 pack. There are a few things you need to take into consideration such as genetics, those who are genetically gifted will have more ab appearance than others and lifestyle. Is having abs going to be realistic for your lifestyle, or is it going to restrict it, do you like the idea of not being able to eat much chocolate, and living off chicken and fish to keep your calories low and your abs beaming through more and more? The reality is that is what has to happen for some people (who aren't as genetically gifted as others) in order to see abs.
I want to take you back to when I first started in the fitness industry, I was under the impression that in order to be taken seriously I needed to eat chicken and broccoli, protein oats and protein bars, have abs, and do bikini competitions in order for my clients to believe that I knew what I was talking about. When I attempted this lifestyle I lost my period for 8 months, became obsessed with food, and wouldn't touch anything unless it was "clean". Thankfully fast forwarding 10 years and getting educated, not by Instagram infographics but through studies, reading books, and courses I know that having abs is not going to be realistic for some, having a low body fat % just for abs is draining, soul-crushing, hungry and energy depleting, not to mention it can lead to other health issues down the line. I also learned you do not and can not see results from spending 15 minutes on the floor doing ab work to enhance the process.
What you do need is to accept your body and who you are for who you are, and if you want to lose some fat then do so with the expectation of better overall health, energy, and strength. For some who are on the more genetically gifted side, the buy product of this could be some visible abs, for some feeling and looking more lean and strong than what they did when they started. Remember you are on this journey for yourself and yourself only, comparison to others and trying to look like someone else will not make you happier, it will only make you feel more deflated when you don't reach your high expectations of an unrealistic body type for you as an individual. Focus on your body, focus on your own goals and focus on being consistent.
To get stronger abs, we have this idea that we must lie on the floor crunching up and down uncomfortably causing all sorts of impingements on our joints especially those areas of the lower back and neck.
The best way to have stronger abs ( "the core muscle group") is to strength train (going heavy when possible) by completing compound movements. Such as:
- Chest press
If you're interested the muscles that make up your "core" are:
- Transverse abdominals: the deepest muscle layer of the abdominals
- Internal and external obliques: the intermediate layer of the abdominals
- Rectus abdominals: the superficial layer of the abdominals
- Multifidus- the group of muscles that run between the vertebra and the spine
- Gluteus maximus/medius/minimus - the hip muscles located on your bottom, which support and stabilize the spine and hips.
- Pelvic floor muscles- the muscles that run from the pubic bone in the front of the tail bone and in the back.
- Scapular stabilizers- or rotator cuff, located on the back and around the shoulder blade.
These muscles listed above if made stronger will support your body and ultimately relieve you of any back, shoulder, neck, and knee pain! How do we work them all and fire them up all at the same time: COMPOUND STRENGTH MOVEMENTS!
Just to name a few, but if you are actively using those "core" muscles in your compound movements, that is the best "ab" workout you can do, and it's a more effective use of your time too!
To sum up this week's blog, the idealism of having abs and a six-pack doesn't need to be the ultimate fitness goal, if you want to see results in terms of fat loss it does come down to your portion control and nutrition, the best ab workout is the one you did actively using your "abs' throughout the entire set.
Remember you are more worthy of the abs under your shirt, you are more worthy of the weight you lose, it does not define you, you define who you are by just being you, and a healthier, and happier version of yourself too.