Thursday, June 6, 2013

Six Ways To A Six Pack

Hey healthy ones! :) It's June and the Summer season starts in just a few short weeks! So you know what that means: sun, fun, warm weather... time to break out the shorts, skirts, dresses and swimwear! Sounds great... right? Well, while I think most of us love the warm weather and getting out of those big, bulky Winter clothes, the idea of wearing a bikini/swimsuit or taking off your shirt, isn't every woman or man's idea of fun. In fact, even the thought of it can make a lot of people cringe. Why? Because whether we like to admit it or not, we all want to see those 6 pack abs when we look in the mirror. The big question is, how do we get it? Well, keep reading because I think I've got the answer! While I can't guarantee your results, I do know that the following 6 tips WILL tone & sculpt your middle! So without further adieu, I give you...

Six Ways To A Six Pack

1. Start By Changing Your Diet
First and foremost, let me say, YOU CANNOT OUT EXERCISE A BAD DIET! So before any exercise is discussed, you've gotta' first deal with your diet. I don't care what exercise you do or how much you do it, if you're eating junk, you'll NEVER get the results! So, question: What is a "good diet?" Surprisingly a good diet will have you eating well and eating often. That means 6 small healthy meals a day, a balanced diet of protein and complex carbs plus a small amount of “healthy” fat – about 15% of your diet. When you do this your body relaxes and doesn’t feel the need to hold on to every calorie in case it might need it later. By eating these small amounts of healthy food your body is continuously supplied with the energy it needs throughout the day, boosting your metabolism. As a bonus, your stomach starts shrinking to the size it should be – about the size of your balled up fist.

Think “nature food”. If it looks like something you could find growing outside, you can eat it. If not, pass it up. For example, a whole apple = good. Applesauce = not so good. Apple/cinnamon Danish = run away! The more you eat of food that looks like you would find in nature, the more nutrition you will be getting.
Eat the highest amount of carbs earlier in the day; that way your body will be processing and burning it as energy throughout the day, not storing it as fat.
When you eat fat make sure it comes from oily fish like tuna and salmon, and healthy oils that are found naturally in vegetables, fruits, or nuts.
If you're a meat eater, cut down on the red meat. Eat lean cuts such as chicken breasts and turkey and use virgin olive oil to cook it in.

Diet is only 50% of the equation, and I’m sorry, if you really want to work out and get in shape you’re going to have to get off the couch and EXERCISE. While you cannot spot train (did you hear me? SPOT TRAINING DOES NOT EXIST!), your best results come from a mixture of cardio and resistance training, but working specific parts of your body will tone and tighten the muscles in that particular area. So if you want to tone & tighten the abs, guess what? You've got to do specific exercises to work those muscles! And the first exercise you can start with is...

2. Crunches
Lie on the floor using a mat. Put your arms out in front of your chest or you can touch your temples with your hands, however you can balance your movements best. Don’t do crunches with your fingers locked behind your head and pulling on your neck.
Bend your knees and raise your upper torso towards your knees but not with your back muscles, use your abdominal muscles – this is the most important part. Lift upwards until your shoulder blades leave the ground. There’s no need to raise your entire back off the floor, you could end up straining it.
Exhale as you lift from the floor. When you’ve got as far as you can, hold for a second then exhale any air that’s left in your lungs and lower back down slowly, inhaling as you go. Don’t let your head touch the floor, just your shoulders. Repeat.

3. Sit Ups
Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the ground, wedged under something heavy like a couch. With your hands crossed over your chest sit all the way up with your back straight then return to the first position. If this becomes too easy –i.e. It doesn’t give you any soreness the next day- try it while holding a weight against your chest.

4.  Leg Lifts
Lie on the floor with your legs straight out and hands at your sides. Lift your legs straight up without bending them, then lower your legs and repeat without letting your legs touch the floor. This helps to strengthen the muscles in the lower abdomen. Take it easy at first with these or you could strain your back.

5. Static Holds/Planks
Put your body into the push-up position but with your elbows on the floor, with the rest of your raised off the ground. This is the static hold position, or plank. It trains all your core muscles to hold the body in place correctly. Hold for 45 seconds if you are a beginner.
To perform the side static hold, roll onto one side of your body and lift into the same position as before, but this time only one arm will be on the ground with the other arm pointed straight up the air with your non-weight bearing leg resting on your other leg. Hold for as long as you can.

6. Torso Twists
Holding a weight close to your chest twist your torso from side to side. (Like your were trying to look over your shoulder without moving your neck) This exercise is for the obliques, which while not directly involved in creating a six-pack, is important to include so that your body doesn’t get imbalanced and prone to injury.

To sum it all up in a nutshell:
  • Eat Right - about six small meals a day with lots of “nature food”
  • Exercise - mix of cardio and resistance training to maximize fat loss
  • Build Abs - do specific abdominal exercises to bulk up your abs