With all the “ab rollers”, “torso tracks” and the countless other ways advertised to get your stomach six-pack flat, it’s no wonder people are completely confused. Recently, we had a chance to ask a producer of one of those infomercials how they get away with such blatant lies—promising you the same taunt tummy as that professional model on TV if you do “such and such” exercise for just 8 minutes a day. Well, this producer told use that the truth lies in the fine print. Every product purchased includes instructions that read something like this: “Do this exercise along with a proper diet.”; well you get the idea. You can do the ab cruncher until you turn purple, but the simple fact is that unless you address the real problem it won’t make a bit of difference. You’ll just end up with an awesome set of abs that you’ll never see.
The real problem is that layer of body fat that’s covering the six-pack you already have. We all have a six-pack! It’s called the rectus abdominus, and if you can stand upright, you have one. The reason some people have a well-defined stomach and others don’t has very little to do with how many stomach exercises (or what kind) they do. It is completely a function of how much body fat they carry. Is it important to do your abdominal work? Yes! The ab training you do will help strengthen, raise and define the abdominal wall. That’s a great thing! But there’s a three-step process to getting a well define stomach:
Burn More Calories Than You Eat Ask any dietician, physician, exercise physiologist, trainer or any other person you think to be an authority on weight loss this simple question, “If I eat a balanced diet and burn more calories than I consume will I lose weight?” They have to answer, “Yes.” The body must maintain a state of homeostasis (an equal balance). If the body needs energy that’s not supplied by your food intake it will draw that energy from stored fat. They may wrap their answer up in some low-carbohydrate, high protein package, but all the latest diets on the market today, in the end, are calorie deficit diets.
Exercise Aerobically The most effective way to get to your stored body fat as a source of energy during exercise is to do aerobic training. Your aerobic training rate will be anywhere between 60-75% (if you’re a beginner) 70-85% (if you’re in shape) of your maximum heart rate (220 – your age). When your heart rate is at this constant pace, your body is using two sources of energy: glycogen (converted and stored carbohydrates) and fat. In no other form of exercise will you find this happening at such high rates.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is ending their aerobic training early so they have time to do their abs. The longer you stay in your aerobic zone, the more your glycogen levels continue to decrease. This increases the percentage of energy used from stored fat. Remember: the last twenty minutes of your hourly aerobic workout are your most efficient.
You can do your ab work anywhere. We can hardly think of a place where you can’t drop and do some crunches. You may look silly but you get our drift. However, there isn’t a Stairmaster, recumbent bike or your favorite treadmill everywhere. If you are truly serious about getting a great looking stomach, spend those extra minutes burning your stored fat aerobically.
Build More Muscle If a 150-pound woman converts 10% of her body fat to muscle, she will burn about 300 extra calories per day. It’s a physiological fact! This is a great metabolism boost.
The down side to this is, building muscle is not an easy task and is also a very inefficient way to try to lose body fat on its own. It is also important to realize that you can’t spot train those extra inches away from your problem area(s). Doing crunches for your abs, squats or lunges for your thighs and butt or triceps extensions for the backs of your arms will only build a great muscle underneath the layer of body fat.
That being said, when you have the first two steps of this process down, then put your attention on your abdominal work