As promised, the topic of this post will revolve around one thing…ABS! A few people have requested that I share my tips on how to get and maintain a great looking stomach. I’ve been thinking about this a lot and want to issue a couple of warnings before I get started…
1. I am NOT a nutritionist, dietitian, fitness instructor, or certified trainer. Everything that I’ve learned about health and fitness have come from various health classes in high school and college, fitness magazines/articles, and life experience.
2. Everyone’s bodies are different…much different! What worked/works for me may not be exactly right for you.
With that being said, I’ll share some of what I think are the key ingredients to a rock hard belly :)
1. It all starts in the kitchen: It’s true!! I know that I post a lot about eating pizza and ice cream and cupcakes , but honestly, you guys should know that I don’t eat like that ALL the time. In fact, for the most part, I eat fairly “clean.” I’ve said before that everything I eat doesn’t end up on this blog…mostly because I’m usually way too distracted with actually eating to think about snapping a picture! Most of what I want to share with you guys are foods that are way to delicious and decadent not to be shared :) But I try to stick to a few major food and eating “rules”:
- Eat often! With the occasional dessert here and there, most days consist of about 3 meals and 2 snacks. I always, always eat a big breakfast, which I think is the key to keeping my metabolism revved up. About 2 or 3 hours later, I have a mid-morning snack like an apple with PB or a protein bar. When lunch rolls around, I tend to go for easy things like turkey sandwiches with carrots and a side of fruit or big salads. I have another mid-afternoon snack to tide me over till dinner, which often includes chicken breasts, lean hamburger, veggies and/or some kind of salad. Like I have said before, I have a raging sweet tooth, so I keep sugar free Jell-O puddings around as well as Skinny Cow ice cream bars. Another great after dinner treat is some decaf coffee and a bowl of fresh fruit.
- Eat more protein: I believe that protein is one of the main components in building great abs. Last summer, my parents cut carbs out of their diet and began eating much more protein. Although I didn’t cut out carbs with them, I began eating more of what they were eating, which included lots more protein. Some sources say that women need anywhere from .6-.75 grams of protein per pound of body weight. One of my absolute favorite ways to make sure that I’m getting lots of protein is by making protein shakes/smoothies. My parent’s go to recipe can be found here, but I also LOVE these. It’s the perfect way to start the day! For more great smoothie recipes, check out Julie’s blog.
- Drink more water. Often, I will think that my stomach is grumbling because it’s hungry, when really I’m just thirsty. I’ve found that when I drink water all day long, I have more energy to get a great workout in and I end up feeling less snacky throughout the day. I almost always carry around my Camelbak water bottle, and I always start the day (before my coffee!) with a glass of water.
3. Cardio: I truly believe that what you eat has a HUGE affect on the way you look…regardless of how much you exercise. That being said, I honestly think that increasing cardio into my workout schedule was a great move! When I began running more last summer, I started to see more definition in my abdominal muscles fairly quickly. I think that it’s totally possible to do hundreds of crunches without seeing many results if you are slacking on cardio and not watching what you eat. Since I’ve been injured and haven’t been able to run consistently for several months, I’ve had to introduce new methods of cardio into my routine. Spinning has quickly become one of my new favorites!! Otherwise, I am a HUGE fan of home exercise DVD’s. My two favorites are…
The Firm offers tons of great exercise DVD’s. Maximum Calorie Burn Bootcamp is my favorite (it combines weight training with cardio), but there are some that are only cardio or only weight training. They are easy to follow and make the time fly by.
Bob Harper’s Inside-out Method cardio workout is INSANE. When I first tried this DVD, I honestly turned it off after 20 minutes. It is SO hard. The second time I did it, I made it all the way through. At one point, Bob commented on the fact that he believes that cardio builds great abs. I happen to agree :)
3. Change up your ab workouts: Finally, onto the topic of exercises to target your abs. I think that one of the main mistakes people tend to make when trying to build their abs is getting stuck in a rut of doing the same exact routine every time they work out. Much like any other kind of exercise or weight training, you have to mix it up!! Your muscles get used to something if you do it too often…you have to shake it up and confuse them in order to see results. Next time you do an ab workout, try to stray away from just doing 50 crunches…try some of my favorite ab moves! I generally try to pick about 5 different moves each time and complete them all in sets of 10 repetitions 3 times.
Spiderman Push-ups: These are a great way to target your obliques! Ryan taught me how to do them a few weeks ago and they are killer.
Reverse Crunches: I think this is a move that people tend to forget about…but they are absolutely great for targeting the bottom part of that six pack! If you want to make them more challenging, bring your toes up to the ceiling. (this isn’t a great photo….basically you just want to bring your knees into your chest without rocking too much and then lightly tap your toes back onto the floor)
Side Plank: I alternate these on each side after I hold regular plank for about a minute. You can make them a bit more challenging by adding hip drops. Bess did a post on these during her abs challenge.
Woodchoppers: These are another great move to target your obliques! If you don’t have a medicine ball, just use a heavy dumbbell or a resistance band.
Scissor Legs: These are tough!! Alternate lowering your legs one at a time…the key is to keep it slow and controlled. Try to minimize the area between your back and the floor and keep your abs pulled in tight.
4. REST: Last but certainly not least is giving your muscles the break they deserve. Abs recover more quickly than some of our larger muscle groups, but still need a good amount of time in order to rebuild themselves. If you’ve done a hard workout and your abs feel a little sore, take a day off! It doesn’t have to be a day off from ALL exercise, just abdominal work. This is absolutely necessary if you want to see results.
I think that wraps up my top tips on how to achieve great abs!
If you’re interested in more specific tips, please let me know! And if you’re interested in a post of what a normal day of meals and snacks looks like, I would be happy to put together one of those as well!
Off to tackle an ab workout! :) Happy Wednesday!
What’s your favorite ab move?
P.S. Go check out Brittany’s AWESOME giveaway!!