What woman doesn’t want a flat, sexy stomach? I haven’t met woman or a man who doesn’t take pride in keeping her/his midriff toned and taught. One’s tendency to gain more belly fat than others has a lot to do with stress, age, hormones, and adequate rest, as well as nutrition and lifestyle. Fitness and nutrition are key to keeping this dangerous type of fat at bay and tightening the area of the core known as the abs. The level of intensity at which one trains and the results achieved from spot-training the abdominals is a matter to be discussed first with your doctor, then with one of our Certified Personal Trainers at Lucille Roberts. If you are looking to shed belly fat for health reasons, such as lowering your risk for serious medical conditions like Type II Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome, we can help. We can also help you sculpt a sexy six-pack, if you have the drive.
Recently, research has shed light on the fact that one CAN “spot-reduce” a given area of the body, or at least help burn fat (lipolysis) after high-repetition exercises. (Applied Physiology Nutrition Metabolism, 2011). Many recent studies have shown that HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) helps burn fat specifically from the abs. Doing strength training 2 days per week, at minimum, to work all the major muscle groups in the body is also imperative. The muscle you acquire through resistance training–in classes, on strength machines, or during personal training–will reduce risk of injury and raise your resting metabolic rate. Muscle burns about 25% more calories at rest than does fat. Even the recovery period after a solid strength training session burns calories and fat during healing. Some of this occurs during the DOMS period (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness), and one can feel the muscles being sculpted in a process called protein synthesis.
However, I do not recommend training the abdominals every day. Though the recovery process may be slightly shorter for the abdominals, 3 times per week is really all that is necessary to acquire phenomenal results. Please take into account that you must vary your exercises and work other areas of your core, such as your internal and external obliques (your waistline area). For the safest and most effective workout, one must work the back muscles, such as the spinal erectors, which help keep your body upright and protect your spine. The tranverse abdominis, or girdle muscle, is also key. It literally acts as a girdle, holding in this area and also preventing injury. The PFM’s, or pelvic floor muscles, need to be engaged, as well, to maximize results.
Here is a sample routine from my personal bag of tricks. Remember to hydrate properly before, during, and after exercise. I recommend drinking 8-11 glasses of ice cold water per day. Follow this workout with a LiveRite belly-fat burning shake, and you will see and feel results in no time!
Standing Saxon Side Bends
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, hands at your sides, a dumbbell or no weight in each hand. Bend to either side, and begin alternating sides. Form is critical here. Knees should be slightly bent, hips tilted to the mirror or wall in front of you, and your back should remain neutral. Don’t arch too much or round your back forward. Keep the weights light, 3-5 lb.—this is a safety precaution for your spine; also, the obliques, located on the sides of your body, may gain bulk if trained with heavy weight.
Lie on a mat or flat bench on your back. Stabilize your hip area with your hands at your sides, or hold on to the top of the bench. Curl your hips up and off the floor and toward your shoulders. If you feel pain in your lower back, please stop. You may be doing it wrong, and you don’t want to injure yourself. This exercise focuses on the lower portion of the abs, often called the “lower abs”, though this is actually all one muscle group.
The Superman (Or Superwoman!)
Lie on your stomach, hands stretched toward the top of your body. Gently raise your chest and shoulder area off the mat while lifting your feet as well. Hold for one count, lower down, and repeat.
Lie facing the floor. Gently prop yourself up on your elbows and the balls of your feet; hold for 15 seconds to 2 minutes, as your strength allows. Back remains neutral. Don’t hold past fatigue or arch your back! This will put unnecessary pressure on the soft tissue of the spine. Never risk injury to get to your goal faster.
Modify this if necessary by resting your knees on the floor.
Try to consciously engage or tighten the muscles of the pelvic floor during all exercises. Exhale during the contraction, the hardest part of the exercise, or when tightening the muscle. Do all exercises for 8-25 repetitions, rest, and repeat the set 2-3 times before moving on.
My post-workout shake of choice is 1 cup fat free milk, 1/2 and apple, 2 teaspoons of peanut butter (no trans fats), with 1 level scoop of Chocolate LiveRite Shake. Or try mixing vanilla whey protein with 3/4 cup of blueberries, 1 cup of fat-free milk or light soy milk, and 1 level tablespoon of ground flaxseed. Enjoy!