Reducing your waistline and toning your abs. People all over the world spend thousands of dollars per day attempting to accomplish the "SIX PACK". I have regular requests asking for advice and quick fixes to remedy the storing of body fat around the waistline and how to create a firm toned midsection.

left: Rede and Judy show off their hard earned abs

The Truth about achieving a toned tummy and being able to actually see that "muscle tone" is to get rid of the layer of body fat covering your abs. It doesn't matter how many crunches you do,
or what machine you use. If you don't reduce your body fat you will never see those abdominal muscles (which we all have).
          11-Slide-nutritiondeal-bestabsmale copy

Almost every product on the shelf or information on TV promises to get rid of fat surrounding the abs. The truth is you cannot spot reduce and no exercise in the world will remove fat from the ab area. Fat loss has to do with energy balance, (i.e. take in less calories than you expend) and not an exercise. Last year $ 460m dollars US was spent alone on the Ab Trainer, which is supposed to give you a six pack. The truth is your abs will look great underneath the fat. So crunches, twists, sit-ups etc. may work the abs, but do nothing for the fat covering the abs. 

The Difference Between Firming Up Your Abs and Reducing Your Body Fat Around Your Waistline

Now that you know that the only way to trim down your waistline is to reduce the amount of
body fat around that particular area. First you need to realise that a slim waist doesn't necessarily mean that you have a toned midsection. As you know to firm up your abdominal area you need
to perform crunches or some kind of resistance program. Many men and women do have slimmer waists or flat stomachs, but they can still lack tone and firmness. This where the "resistance training" comes in.

When to work abs
Your abs are primary trunk stabilisers and participate significantly in just about every exercise you perform. If you fatigue your abs in the beginning of your workout, you will be weaker in the exercises that follow. If your goal is to increase strength and/or appearance, you are better off saving them for last.

Steps / Hints to Help Set You on the Right Track to Getting Started on Your New Ab Program

When you read through the following steps and hints you will most probably find that there are quite a few of them that you aren't currently following or didn't know about. For each step I have included a list of things you need to remember when training your abdominals. I have tried to keep it brief but informative. You may like to use the following steps / hints like a checklist so you can remember each point when starting your NEW ABS program.


Resistance Training Program

* Train your lower abs first
* Breath out as you crunch up
* If you have your hands behind your neck, make sure you keep your elbows back, and crunch up using your shoulders. (This will help prevent neck soreness). 

* Keep your lower back pushed into the floor or bench. Unless you are advanced, and have sufficient abdominal and lower back strength, do not perform exercises that encourage you to arch your back up. If you find in general that your back arches keep your knees bent and closer to your body so that your lower back if pushing into the floor or bench.

* Don't over train your abs. Three quality training sessions per week is ample. Remember muscle needs recovery time to grow. It's muscle growth that increases your muscle tone in your midsection. Over training will actually deplete the muscle instead of increasing it.
* Don't go overboard with performing loads of repetitions. Rather than trying to achieve 5 x 100 crunches per exercise, hold for a count of 2-5, each rep you perform using 4-5 x 12 burning reps. This will get you better results. Your goal is to damage the muscle to promote muscle growth for increased muscle tone.
* Don' t just train your abs. You need to be performing a full-body program rather than just concentrating on your abdominal region. Focus on training each body part so that you can a achieve a "toned and firm look" all over.

Remember that you need a healthy and nutritionally balanced eating program to reduce the amount of fat covering the midsection.


Basic Fat Burning Program

To reduce your ab region, and the rest of your body, of that extra body fat you will need to increase your fat burning exercise. 

* Vary your fat-burning times for each session.
* Increase the amount of sessions you perform each week - don't over do it though. Over fat burning eg. fat burning twice per day, 7 days per week is classified as over training and will deplete your muscle. For a faster metabolism 3 times per week is suitable. For a slow metabolism 5-6 times per week will give a good kick start to losing body fat. You can then decrease this as your metabolism increases.
* Swap from treadmill to bike to treadmill etc so your body, and you, don't get bored with your training program. If you have access to several different cardio machines you can alternate between them.
* Fat Burn before breakfast to encourage your body to burn away at your stored body fats.
* Fat Burn on an empty stomach. In between meals or first thing in the morning.
* Avoid fat burning for any longer than 40mins each session maximum. 

Setting yourself some goals
Achieving a toned, slimmer midsection is possible if you are prepared to make the above changes to your lifestyle. You will be surprised at the results you receive if you dedicate yourself for a solid 12 - 16 weeks.

00-pinchtest.jpgThe hardest part is getting started, but once you are on your way you won't regret it. Set yourself monthly realistic goals that are possible to achieve. Use goal clothing or a tape measure to monitor your changing waistline. Re-measure every 4 weeks. Don't forget about the good ol fat callipers too .

by Mike McCauley, Personal Trainer
First published on Go Figure 2007

Go on facebook!

Follow us on facebook
and keep up to date
with latest news
and activities

You are now being logged in using your Facebook credentials