It is the Holy Grail for fitness aficionados: flat abs. Every exerciser wants them but not every exerciser gets them. So how do you get flat abs? First, learn the basic elements that determine how your body is shaped. Then, use these tips and lifestyle modifications to get a midsection that means business.
10 Tips For Flat Abs
- Know your anatomy. Familiarize yourself with the muscle groups that make up your abdominal area. If you understand how the muscles work, it will be easier to use them properly when you exercise. Make sure that your abdominal workout includes exercises to work the internal and external obliques on the sides of your torso as well as exercises to work the rectus abdominis, which runs down the middle of your midsection and defines your six-pack.
- Brace your corset. Learn to tighten that deep layer of abdominal muscle (transversus abdominis) as you move through everyday activities. It should feel like you are tightening a corset around your midsection. But don’t hold your breath! With this simple modification, any daily movement can become a core exercise that will help you get flat abs.
- Stand up! Avoid long periods of sitting. Stand and contract those strong abdominal muscles when you are at work or when performing desk jobs at home. In addition, be aware of your posture when you stand. Good posture promotes a strong core and a strong core will promote better posture. It’s worth the small effort.
- Do stability training. How do you turn a bicep exercise into a core workout? Add a stability challenge! Do the exercise in a standing position and add an unstable surface under your feet. That way you have to brace your core and use your abdominal muscles to balance and stay upright while you work your arms. You can add this kind of balance challenge to any exercise. Use tools like a wobble board or a bosu to enhance your stability training.
- Boost your NEAT. Effective workouts are essential, but your random daily activities also play a huge role in how many calories you burn everyday. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) can help you to burn off excess belly fat. Make small changes to improve the number of calories you burn each day. But don’t compensate by eating more!
- Do interval training. No time for long workouts? No problem. High intensity interval training will help you burn more calories all day long by maximizing your post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). EPOC is a fancy term for what most people call “the afterburn.” EPOC allows you to burn more calories even after your workout is completed.
- No little pink weights! Build and shape muscle to improve the overall effectiveness of your workouts and to maintain a healthy metabolism. How much weight is enough? According to the American Council on Exercise, you should lift 70-80% of your maximum resistance to build and shape your muscles. Maximum resistance is usually defined as your “1 rep max” or the most weight you can lift in one repetition. For most people that means lifting more than the 2-3 pound little pink weights that you find in some fitness centers.
- Drink water. Stay hydrated to stay energized and active. You’ll also reduce belly bloat from water retention if you maintain a well-hydrated body. Skip the high calorie sports drinks and sweetened drinks. Stick to homemade flavored water to keep your hydration habit cheap and healthy.
- Pass up baked goods. This is my own personal rule to get (and keep) flat abs. I love baked goods but there’s really nothing good about them as far as my abs are concerned. Cupcakes are awesome but they are bad for your belly. Baked treats often contain way too much sugar, tons of fat and almost no nutritional value. Many packaged baked goods also contain trans fat. If you really need dessert, have a small square of chocolate or a small scoop of ice cream. At least ice cream contains metabolism boosting protein – which is essential for weight loss
- Dress properly. Know your body type and dress to promote confidence and long, lean lines. You can fake flat abs with a well structured jacket or a tailored top.