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Beyond Crunches: How to Work Your Way to a Six-Pack

Beyond Crunches: How to Work Your Way to a Six-Pack

Anything beautiful requires work and perseverance. While you may know by now that getting a “six-pack” means doing more than crunches, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t attainable.

Everywhere you turn, there are health professionals talking about how you can get your abs ‘ripped’ in the fastest way possible. However, you cannot spot-reduce your belly fat; or, any other part of your body for that matter. It takes a combination of exercise, diet, and healthy lifestyle choices to get you on that fast track to Insta-worthy abs.

While this might not be news to you, we’ve whittled down some of the best experts’ advice on how you can work towards that flat stomach goal.

Made in the kitchen

Abs are crafted in the kitchen. Your diet is the leading factor in how your fats are stored and utilized by your body – that is along with genetics. While you can’t change your DNA, you can certainly change your food choices. Protein is your friend when you’re trying to lose weight or visceral fat as building muscle can give your metabolism a slight boost which may help burn fat more efficiently.

As you build muscle, opt for poultry, fish, legumes, nuts, eggs, and low-fat dairy in your diet and significantly reduce the intake of processed meat such as bacon, sausage, salami, etc. Everyone’s protein needs vary significantly from person to person based on weight, age, sex, activity levels, and individual health conditions. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight and can be as high as 2 grams per kilogram of body weight for some athletes or individuals with medical concerns. It would be very useful to seek professional advice from a Registered Dietitian to learn more about your personal needs. If you need to lose weight too, you can also try this 8 week weight loss plan we have prepared.

Understand Your Hormones

Experts suggest that your hormones can also be a factor in visceral fat gain. New York Endocrinology expert Dr Rocio Salas-Whalen explains that belly fat is associated with visceral fats – or fats around your essential organs. Not only does visceral fat hinder your six-pack from being visible, it can also lead to or be indicative of metabolic syndromes like diabetes. Moreover, research cited on Parsley Health suggests that your belly fat can also be caused by hormonal changes like a dip in estrogen levels or insulin resistance. The stress hormone cortisol can also contribute to these changes. When you’re constantly under a lot of stress, your body responds by storing more fat as it anticipates worse situations. To mitigate this, experts believe that getting plenty of sleep and staying active can help. Or, find other ways to reduce stress that work for you.

Plank, Plank, Plank

As mentioned above, the more muscle you build, the more efficient your body is in utilizing energy or limiting fat storage. But not all core workouts are made equal. A definitive study by the American Council on Exercise found that these three abs workouts are the best ones to engage all muscles in your core:

Bicycle crunches

The Captain’s chair (equipment needed)

Crunches on a stability ball

Meanwhile, fitness professionals interviewed by Men’s Health warn that you shouldn’t max out the crunches. They highlight that crunches only exercise one capacity of your abdominal muscles – those that allow you to flex your lower spine. Moreover, most fitness experts agree that planks are some of the best workouts to improve your abdominal muscles and make them more prominent.

But don’t spend all your exercise routine on your core. Doing whole-body exercises at least every other day will increase muscle mass, which has the potential to improve your metabolism. Also, do not underestimate the benefit of compound exercises in your fitness routine. Alternating sets is also effective in packing as much in, during the least amount of time – making the most out of your gym session.

We all want abs, and hopefully this article has provided a simple guide on how to achieve them. However, remember that fitness is not just about having a good body; it is about being fit and healthy – both physically and mentally.

 

Prepared by A. Therese for bodycraft.com

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