Whether it be beach season or otherwise, sleek, developed abs are never a bad idea. Getting them? Well, that does take a bit of work. Don’t worry though—by internalizing our points below you’re sure to get ever closer to the six pack of your dreams.
Worried that you’re “too obsessed” with your body image? Don’t be. The benefits of having attractive body features like a flat stomach go far beyond the superficial. In fact, there are actually solid medical reasons for you to strive to achieve that slimmer waistline.
For women, this insight rings especially true. According to a Mayo Clinic report, while putting on too much weight, in general, can have negative effects on your health, abdominal weight gain is considered particularly unhealthy. The study looked at previous research that shows that having a wide waist measurement (35 inches or more in women) was an important independent risk factor for disease.
In fact, visceral fat (which is the fat that lies deep inside your abdomen and surrounds your internal organs) is associated with even worse health consequences than the subcutaneous kind (or the fat you can see).
Excessive amounts of visceral fat are associated with:
However, there’s no reason to let the data above sway you into the pessimist camp. After all, cutting down on your belly fat—like most other things in life—is well within your control.
Here’s how to get on the right track with some well-intentioned living.
Is there a way for you to look good while also avoiding the negative outcomes previously mentioned? Yes. However, while there’s no single silver bullet, you can use a combination of efforts (sustained over an extended period of time) to get where you want to be. These efforts invariably begin with a proper diet.
It may be tempting to give in to the (flawed) logic that eating many—as in up to six—small meals per day will boost your metabolism and cause you to lose weight. This (admittedly popular) notion has actually been refuted many times over, including here.
So, instead of focusing on how many meals you eat:
Of course, shedding weight using the previously mentioned methods won’t reveal a sleek six-pack in and of itself. For that, you’ll need to develop your abdominal muscles through sustained training. Luckily, there are a seemingly endless amount of exercises designed to do just this. Some great exercises for ab development include:
1) Side Planks
These will have you gritting your teeth and dripping with sweat in short order. Begin on either your left or right side with your elbow directly below your shoulder and your forearm perpendicular to your body. Press your feet together one on top of the other or place them one in front of the other. Contract your abs, lifting your hips off the floor until your body makes a diagonal line from your shoulder to your feet. Hold this position until it burns (so good). Then switch sides and repeat.
2) Cable Chops
Cable chops engage both your obliques and transverse abdominis—hence, they’re really effective. To perform them, hold a cable handle in both hands at your chest, turn sideways and step a few feet from the machine, standing with your feet wider than hip-width apart. Then, press your arms straight out from your chest and perform sets rotating them away from the machine as Kai Simon demonstrates in this video.
There’s a reason that these never go out of style—it’s because they’re so effective. Simple too. To perform them, lay on your back with your feet planted firmly and flatly, concentrating your energy on your core. Then raise yourself up—leading with your core/trunk—until you hit your knees. The varieties of sit-up are just about endless and also make for excellent opportunities for personal creativity.
4) Hanging Crunches
These are going to burn…big time. But that’s a good thing. Grasp a pull-up bar firmly with both hands and your feet at your sides pointing down. With your abs tight, raise both of your knees to your upper stomach/lower chest, hold, and repeat. Just don’t hang around until the point where your shoulder aches.
5) Crunch/Raise Medley
Since you should always strive to bust through stale workout routines as a way to keep your body guessing (and thus spurring continual development), you’ll want to incorporate this body-shocker demonstrated here by @leanmachine21into your routine. Notice how she takes her time throughout and carefully avoids any jerky awkward movements. This particular routine may take a while of working up to.
Not everyone who incorporates the tips above will develop their abdominals in the same exact fashion—this is due to divergent genetic makeups, as well as other considerations like whether or not you’ve given birth. So instead of obsessing over the number six, just aim for the best core you’re capable of achieving.