Think of the last person you saw with a shredded midsection and recall asking them what they do for abs. Chances are at least half of the time you’ll hear “I rarely do abs at all, I just lift heavy!”
While it may seem contrary to what we read in fitness magazines, there are ways to get a lean midsection that involves more than mindless crunches and ab exercises.
While it doesn’t hurt to work your core muscles out (every muscle of the body should be exercised), doing so isn’t the be-all and end-all to a to-die-for core. Here are three ways to achieve a lean midsection.
We’ve all heard the saying “abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym” a million times over. Like it or not, it holds a lot of truth. Slaving away in the gym all day just to go home and find yourself face down in a box of pizza won’t get you that envious midsection.
While there is no such thing as spot-reduction (aka lose fat from your stomach instead of somewhere else), your midsection often tends to be the one place where you notice changes most when your diet is on point. Focus on getting the majority of your carbs from sources such as whole grains, vegetables and legumes (in no specific order). These are all slow-digesting and fibrous. Try to balance out your meals so that you have a mix of protein, fats and carbs at each meal.
High-intensity-interval-training (or HIIT) is essential for fat-burning. HIIT training involves working out at your maximum ability for a brief period of time (approximately 30-60 seconds), followed by a recovery period.
Not only does HIIT save time but it also produces an awesome after burn, way greater than that of regular steady-state cardio. Also, because it’s performed in the anaerobic zone, it’s conducive to muscle building. Try a sprint workout where you do an all-out sprint on a treadmill for 20-30 seconds and then recover and catch your breath until you’re ready to do it again. Not only does sprinting require a tightened core to execute but it will help burn that extra fat off, fast!
Compound-Movement, Heavy Exercises:
Purely isolating the abs and doing exercises hoping that you’ll end up with a six pack is a lost cause. The key to a lean midsection is a strong core- this means not just the abs but the obliques as well.
Incorporate exercises such as squats and deadlifts into your workout routine. These exercises require the entire body to be engaged and most importantly, your core to be tightened and engaged as well.
Strengthen your Core:
Think about how much more you have to tighten your core when doing heavy one-arm rows versus light ones. Lift heavy and reap the results. It goes without saying that it’s important to also incorporate some core exercises into your workout routine. Just don’t expect them to be the panacea for a shredded stomach. It's the combination that makes it all work.
So find a healthy, doable balance of nutrition, cardio and weight lifting and you’ll be on your way to that lean midsection you’ve always dreamed about.
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