Banish the Belly Fat With a Recipe for Flat Abs
Are you discouraged because your belly just
doesnít seem to budge no matter how many ab crunches you do? You
Abdominal exercise is just part of the recipe for a flatter stomach. According to the American College of Sports
Medicine, the best way to achieve flat abs is to lower body fat through aerobic exercise and dietary modification.
Doing the right exercises, such as crunches, will tone the underlying muscles, but to see results, you need to reduce
the layer of body fat covering them.
Balanced nutrition is essential. For most of us, this means burning more calories than we consume by managing
portion sizes and making smarter food choices.
According to David Kirsch, author of The Ultimate New York Body Plan, you should follow his ABCs of nutrition: no
alcohol, no bread and no starchy carbohydrates, like potatoes and pasta.
Aerobic exercise is one of the best ways to manage weight and burn calories and fat. I recommend 30 to 45 minutes
of challenging cardiovascular exercise three to four days per week.
A combination of aerobic and strength training is certainly your best bet. Aerobic exercise burns more calories while
you are exercising, while strength training continues the burn longer and develops muscle, which burns more calories
Abdominal exercises are more effective when they meet the needs of the individual based on their specific goals, not
on trends or the latest infomercial ab machine. Individual goals may range from therapeutic, rehabilitation, and
general health and fitness to improved athletic performance.
Working with a trainer may be helpful in selecting not only the appropriate exercises, but a wider variety as well.
Here is a list of some of the most effective ab exercises:
Bicycle. Go slowly when performing this exercise. Pull in your abs and keep them contracted throughout.
Crunches on a stability ball. Although not appropriate for everyone, this unstable surface makes the crunch more
challenging and forces you to use your legs and butt. Never pull on your neck and roll forward on the ball if the
crunch is too tough.
Knee Pull-up. Using a pull up machine (sometimes referred to as a Roman Chair or a Captainís Chair), position your
forearms on the arm rests, press your lower back against the pad, tilt your pelvis, and contract your ab muscles to lift
your knees to hip height.
Plank. This move works both ab muscles and back muscles. Begin as you would a pushup on the floor, but balance
on your elbows and forearms with your body in a straight line from head to toe. The belly should not sag as you hold
this pose for several minutes.
Reverse Crunch. If you own an exercise ball, you might try this version of the crunch. While lying on your back, place
a ball under your knees, contract your abs and lift your hips slowly off the floor. Pause briefly and repeat.
Like all muscles, the abs need recovery time between workouts, so donít exercise them everyday.
Choose two or three exercises that combine to work all abdominal muscles and perform only 15 to 25 repetitions for
one to three sets.
If you can do more that 25 repetitions, you are probably doing them incorrectly or too quickly.
Abs are primarily endurance muscles, so do not train them as you would the biceps or quadriceps to increase in size.
Also, be careful to avoid movements that put strain on the lower back, such as straight-leg raises.
Remember to consult your physician before beginning any new exercise program.
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