There are two secrets to getting tight, toned abs.
The first secret is your workout: there’s a trick to putting together a killer ab circuit that gets results fast. The key is exercise sequencing. You need to incorporate three different movement patterns to hit the muscles from every direction.
First, you need a front flexion movement, like a crunch, when you’re contracting your ab muscles along the front part of your body, bringing your ribs toward your hips.
The second movement is a lateral flexion, like bicycles or a Russian twist, when you’re moving the muscles along your sides, (your obliques), across your body.
The third movement really isn’t a movement at all, but a static hold – like one of the thousands of plank variations.
Try this little circuit two or three times through:
A. Ab crunches, with knees bent, feet on floor, hands gently cradling back of head, chin only slightly tucked. Repeat for 30 to 60 seconds.
B. Ab bicycles. Lie on your back, hands behind your head, and bring your opposite knee to the elbow, across your body, switching sides. Repeat for 30 to 60 seconds, depending on fitness level.
C. Plank. Roll over into the top of a pushup position, hands directly under shoulders, straight line from heels to the top of your head, navel pulled toward spine (you also can do this from elbows, with elbows directly under shoulder). Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
Rest 30 to 60 seconds, depending on fitness level, and repeat circuit for a total of two to three times.
Once you know the pattern, you can play with the exercise choices, gradually progressing the exercises to make them more challenging.
The second “secret” is your diet. And actually, it’s the most important part. I’ve made it second, though, because it’s generally the one that gets people the least excited.
The inescapable fact is that If you have flab covering your muscles, the only way to get rid of it is to watch what you eat – not only how much, but what (processed foods are not your best friends). Eat quality food in moderate portion sizes, consuming slightly fewer calories than you burn over the course of a day. Entire books have been written about losing weight (in fact, I have one coming out at the end of the year, LOL), but you know the drill.
To track your eating pattern, use one of the many free phone app or online fitness tools. I am partial to myfitnesspal, but there are lots of great resources. Try a few out until you find one that works for you!