If my stomach looked like this all year round I'd probably be looking at my abs all year round too. Fortunately it doesn't which leaves me with some time to get some work done instead. It takes a bit of effort to get them like that that but the good news is, it's not hours of sit ups per day and you don't really need abs like that anyway. I do this because it helps people undertsand that I know how to get my tummy looking like that when I want to, but most of the year I look a bit less ripped.
Now, some of you might think this is irrelevant to you, but read on because it's not all about the six-pack. But let's start with the science of a flat & toned tummy anyway. Firstly, doing a million stomach exercises won't really do much for your tummy. In the above photo I had done just 1 abs workout per week for 6 weeks leading up to the photo shoot. That's just six workouts!!! Each workout taking around 30 minutes. 30 minutes per week for 6 weeks!! Sounds like nonsense doesn't it? Well it's not. What was more important was the 12 weeks of high protien, low calorie eating which I'd been doing. You see, abs exercises don't burn stomach fat, they just build the muscle behind the fat. Only when you get your body fat low enough will you really be able to see them. For most of the ladies out there, this is unrealistic and unnecessary as getting your body fat that low can mess with your hormones.
But let's say you don't want a six-pack, you just want a more toned flat tummy. That's fine and this is what to do.
- Do some abs exercises once or twice a week
- Eat smaller portions of food which are lower in calories and high in protein
- Do this for as long as it takes until your reach your happy place
Where people fall down:
- Consistency - Usually people drop their calories for a bit and then get bored. In an ideal world we wouldn't have much to lose in the first place which would mean getting to our "happy place" wouldn't take as long. For me, it takes 12 weeks. For you it might take much longer depending on where you're starting from.
- Overtaining - doing specific exercises every day and not allowing sufficient recovery time. Muscles like to be trained around once every 4 days so once or twice a week is usually good enough.
- The wrong type of exercise - Ab exercises develop your abs but they don't really flatten the tummy. The transverse abdominus, which sits underneath your abs is the one which acts like a corset and holds your tummy in. This is the one you need to target for a flat tummy.
- Nutrition - the biggest and most common one. Not knowing what "your healthy" is when it comes to eating. Trying to do a diet which you've seen some olympic athlete do when you don't train like an olympic athlete. Or jumping on the latest trend like keto or veganism because your skinny mate is doing it. Making "healthy" changes usually means correcting the problems with your diet. So if too much bodyfat is one of your issues, a low calorie diet is healthy (notice I didn't say low fat). If you're deficient in omega 3, a diet high in oily fish might be healthier for you. If you're underweight, a higher calorie diet might be the one for you. If you are physically active for many hours of the day then a high carb diet might be the one for you. I'm not very active so I don't eat high energy foods like porridge whereas a professional footballer may well start their day with porridge. If you're calcium deficient a diet high in dairy might suit you best. I could go on but you get the picture. Work out what the issues with your diet are and correct them through simple adjustments.
So there you have it. It's by no means an abs masterclass, but there are a few simple principles in there which you might be able to apply to yourself. Personally, when I'm in the kind of shape that you see in the photo, I feel great. From a confidence perspective, an energy perspective and a performance perspective. However it doesn't last because I usually go on holiday shortly afterwards and quickly lose the abs. Oh well!
Anyway, I can't promise to give you abs like mine but I can help you get a grip on your fitness & eating regime so if you want to talk to me to find out more...click the heck out of the following button.
Dom "abs for two weeks of the year" Thorpe