Hands down the most sought after aesthetic that I have had clients asking me. How do I get a flat stomach? There are obviously a lot more useful functions of the abdominals and obliques, as well as more important muscles in the body in general to focus on. Ultimately though, what people care most about is their looks. And why not? It doesn’t hurt to be able to go to the beach showing that nice toned midsection especially when you’ve worked so hard to achieve it.
I read somewhere there are more millionaires in the world, than people with six packs. No wonder why everyones wants this look. It’s rarefied air.
The Truth About A Flatter Midsection
It’s actually a pretty straight forward process to getting a toned waist. The problem is it isn’t easy. Everyone has probably been told the proper advice at one point, but ignored it in favor of overhyped marketing on faster methods that ultimately never worked.
Stop Doing So Much Cardio
I’ve probably already got you freaked out. Let me clarify. Yes, cardio burns more calories than weight training, or other modality in a given session. Yes, you can absolutely get a flatter tummy using cardio. However there is a threshold.
Your body is built for survival not for looks. When you add cardio and see that initial drastic drop in weight, it’s not because you unlocked the secret code to fat loss. You simply shocked your body. You created a deficit drastic enough that you expended more calories than you took in, and your body therefore had to burn through some stored water, and fat to keep you running. Now fast forward weeks and months into your cardio training. You might have hit a point that the weight loss stopped. How is that possible? Your body finally catches up and slows everything down. It became MORE efficient and expending LESS calories.
On top of that, cardio doesn’t require much muscle. Therefore, it makes more sense for your body to burn through muscle (which takes more effort to keep) instead of fat. When you are not working out, it adapts itself to burn less calories at well. It’s survival. It needs to keep a rich energy source like fat cells on your body because it doesn’t know when or if you are going to shock it again. This slows your overall metabolism down over time. That is why you hit that plateau.
Solution: If you are stuck losing weight, and are doing more than 3 days of cardio a week, lower it. Lower the cardio, and slowly bring your calories back up to maintenance so that your body has a reason to feel safe, and can speed up your metabolism again.
Do MORE Resistance Training
Lifting weights has the complete opposite effect. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at REST. As mentioned before it’s costly to keep muscle on your body, so the more you can pack on, the more your body has to work to keep it.
On top of that comes the high reps vs low reps. Women are taught for so long that “high reps tones the abs”. There is no such thing. Please believe me. You can’t “shape” a muscle through a rep range. Your body has muscle fibers that react to stress. To keep it simple, it has a more endurance type (Type I) and more fast twitch type (Type 2). Doing an endless amount of reps won’t tone your midsection because type 1 fibers don’t grow really well. Type 2 however grows really well.
Solution: Your rep ranges for abs should be in the 10-15 range. Anymore isn’t going to “shape” or “tone” your muscle. A tone muscle just means you packed ON muscle, but dieted down the fat surrounding it, making it look “leaner”. The truth is anyone who says they looked too “bulky” lifting weights, simply added awesome muscle, but never got rid of their excess body fat. This means they just looked bulkier overall. Choose exercises you can get 15 reps with good form. The moment you can get all 3-4 sets for 15, add resistance till you can only get 10, and then stay with that exercise till you climb back up to 15 and repeat.
Train More than Just Your Abs
A truly aesthetic midsection has more than just a six pack. That’s called the rectus abdominus. However, it is the transverse abdominus that will help keep your core tight. The obliques will give you those nice lines that run down the side. You should be working all areas of the core in order to achieve the overall look you want. The TVA’s JOB is to suck the tummy in! Most post pregnant women know, after they have a kid, this muscle is usually weak and leads to a lower “pouch”. It’s job is to hold the organs inside your body in and if it’s weak gravity is going to pull all of that down and out making you look puffier than you normally would.
Solution: Try a vacuum pose for tightening the stomach and strengthening the TVA. If you haven’t done this exercise, it should respond relatively quickly to the stimulus. You may find it challenging at first, but after a couple weeks, you’ll get great at it. Click here to learn how to do it properly.