Summer is fast approaching and the desperation to get a flat tummy is increasing. While your “ideal summer look” might be different from someone else’s, maybe including thinner arms or a bigger booty, almost everyone includes a flat tummy on their list of ideal physical summer attributes.
This is the season where you start to see hundreds of ab challenges appear on social media, a sea of people on the floor at the gym doing endless crunches and planks, and more people strapping on their running shoes and trying to knock out as many miles as possible.
Year after year, people put in hours and hours of hard work in order to flatten their tummy. And year after year, many of those people are unsuccessful. Why? Is it because they are genetically destined to never have a flat tummy? Is it because they just didn’t work hard enough and should have run an extra mile or done another 100 crunches?
No. It is because people are simply training wrong. There is so much misinformation out there that it causes many people to believe they are doing exactly what they need to do, when in fact they are training in a very ineffective way.
So if you want to learn how to train effectively to get that flat tummy this year, keep reading for my top five tips to stop wasting your time and start seeing results.
TIP #1: Don’t waste your time doing crunches. Spot reduction is a myth. Doing 100 crunches won’t burn belly fat any better than 100 bicep curls.
So why do so many people appear to have great results from ab challenges? Well, if you normally don’t do much physical activity and suddenly start doing 20 minutes of vigorous ab workouts every day, you WILL see results because your increased activity level will help burn overall body fat.
To get a flat tummy, you are going to have to focus on burning overall body fat. There isn’t a way around that. And ab exercises are not the most effective or efficient way to do this… So, what is the most effective way to burn body fat? Check out tip #2…
TIP #2: Building muscle! The more muscle you have on your body, the more of a calorie burning machine you become! The body requires more energy to maintain muscle mass than to store fat. This means that if you replace 10lbs of fat with 10lbs of muscle, you will burn more calories per day, even though your weight would be the same.
Simply put, building muscle increases your metabolism. Use weight lifting as your main fat loss tool and…
TIP #3: … use cardio as your Turbo Button and don’t push it until the time is right. Wait until you’ve gotten close to your goals before you hit the button. You wouldn’t start out a marathon at a full sprint, would you? The marathon runners that win wait until the finish line is in sight before they go all out. You should treat your fitness journey like a marathon.
Cardio is efficient in the short term but it quickly loses its effectiveness as your body adapts. It takes the body 2-3 weeks to adapt to a new cardio routine, after which you start burning fewer and fewer calories using the same duration and intensity. So if you just start out with cardio, you will have to constantly keep increasing the amount you do just to maintain weight! No one wants to be on the elliptical for multiple hours.
Instead, wait until you’re close to achieving your goal and just need a little boost. Then start SMALL, gradually cranking up the turbo power. You can start with a 20 minute walk on a treadmill or 10 minutes on the rowing machine, every week increasing the duration or intensity by a small amount. This will prevent the plateaus that everyone who has tried to lose weight through cardio alone has experienced.
TIP #4: Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition! Anyone who ever told you that abs are made in the kitchen was 100% correct. You can follow all of my other tips to a T but if you are eating an excess of junk food, you will struggle to see progress.
In order to lose fat, you must be in a caloric deficit. But you don’t want to feel like you are starving yourself so keep these things in mind when you’re fueling your body:
- Processed food is engineered to make you want to eat more and more and more. It will be much harder to restrain yourself if you’re eating prepackaged, processed foods.
- Eating fat won’t make you fat. In fact, eating fat may even help you get leaner. Fat is super filling and will keep you fuller longer. So if you’re looking to keep your cravings at bay, have a source of healthy fat with your meals.
- Add volume to your meals to make yourself feel more full and to psychologically give yourself the feeling that you are eating more. A great way to do this is with veggies. Having tacos for dinner? Dump the ingredients into a huge bowl of lettuce. BOOM. Taco salad. Want eggs for breakfast? Mix them with a few handfuls of kale and some sweet potato and make yourself a nice frittata. Delicious, nutritious, and filling.
TIP #5: Look inward. No, I’m not about to ask you to do some soul searching. I mean, evaluate your gut. There is a good chance that if you are lean but your tummy isn’t flat that you are dealing with some bloating. Here are some of the best ways to learn what makes you bloat and decrease the belly bloat:
- Try different forms of probiotics. Kombucha, coconut yogurt, and sauerkraut are some of my favorites.
- Try out intermittent fasting. Giving your body a break from digesting might be exactly what it needs.
- Keep a food diary. Write down what you eat and when you bloat during the day and look for patterns. Limit your intake of the foods that make you bloat.
And that’s it! No crunches or hours on the treadmill necessary! If you follow these five tips you will see results in no time.