What Late Night Infomercials Don’t Want You To Know: The Secret to Abs
Published on July 16th, 2013
“Do you know any good ab exercises?” is a common question that I get from clients. I’ve got an answer for you: The best ab exercise is walking away from the kitchen.
There’s no way around it. The work you put in at the gym is only 20% of the battle. The other 80% (arguably the toughest part of your health and fitness regime) is how you eat. If you’re not eating to support weight loss and fat burning, you’re going to have a hard, if not impossible, time getting that washboard look. It almost doesn’t matter what kind of fitness program you’re on or how much weight you lift. What makes or breaks a healthy looking physique will always be the lifting that occurs from the plate to your face!
You can hire trainers and nutritionists, or attend all the Zumba (or Pilates, CrossFit, yoga, etc.) classes you’d like, but no one can control your diet except you.
In the Go Time Fitness kitchen, we eat 5-6 small meals consisting of lean cuts of meat or seafood with sides of fresh green veggies such as kale & spinach. All of our meals are balanced with the right portions of protein, fat, and carbs. Once in awhile, we cut loose at our favorite burger joint or pizza parlor. Cheat meals are limited to once a week, and we still make sure to watch our portions.
Eating clean does not mean boring! We bake, steam, grill and pan-fry our meals, and use an array of seasoning to keep our taste buds guessing. If you have a favorite dish, try substituting its original ingredients for healthy alternatives. For example, we love Thai coconut curry soup. But instead of using coconut cream, we use almond milk – and it’s fantastic.
What about the fitness part? All those late night infomercials that sell products claiming to have the “Ultimate Ab Solution” are absolutely correct about one thing: Doing endless crunches in attempt to get a six pack is a waste of time.
Back in my day, the belief was that you needed to do 1000 sit-ups a day to achieve chiseled abs, and boy, we gave it our best shot. The only thing you accomplish from doing 1000 sit-ups a day is, well, you become really good at doing sit-ups.
Here’s the truth about abs: Every single one of us has a six pack. Everyday activities such as getting out of bed, standing up, carrying armfuls of groceries, even long periods of sitting or driving are all opportunities to practice engaging your abdominals.
Cardio daily. Like I said: You already have a six pack. Trust me, it’s there. You just might be having problems seeing it because those puppies are hiding under a few inches of subcutaneous fat. That fat needs to be burnt off! It doesn’t take a grueling amount of cardio to burn fat – you just need to work smart as well as work hard. At least 15-20 minutes of daily jogging, rowing, jumping rope before your first meal of the day will kickstart your metabolism into a fat burning state. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is also a time-efficient way to incorporate cardio into your daily routine. Examples of HIIT movements are: sprints, walking or running on an incline, burpees, kettlebell swings, and many more.
I haven’t done a classic, old-fashioned crunch on my own in years.
Strength Training. No more excuses. You need to lift, and lift heavy! Rather than just pick up a heavy weight once or pushing candy colored dumbbells for dozens of useless “toning” reps (ladies…!), make muscular endurance the main focus of your workout. Pick a weight that is challenging, but not impossible, and try to move the weight as fast as you possibly can for a set interval time.
At Go Time Fitness, we incorporate elements of weightlifting and gymnastics, focusing on compound movements that work many muscle groups simultaneously. Nearly every movement in Olympic Weightlifting or gymnastics engages the core by forcing the abdominal muscles to stabilize the spine. We rarely incorporate sit-ups in our routines. You simply cannot overhead press or back squat heavy loads without contracting your abs. You’re using your abs, whether you know it or not.
After warming up, try 12 minutes of the following circuit:
20 Kettlebell Swings
**Your goal is to get through the complex as many times as possible in 12 minutes.
***If you’re a badass, add a 200m run to that complex. Just make sure you have a bucket handy. Without fail, always warm up properly and stretch after your workout.
There you have it. The secret to getting ripped doesn’t always come in pretty packaging or a DVD. Quit eating junk food, put the work in, stay committed and you could be sporting a 6-pack by the end of summer!
Photo by Chris Higa Imaging
Graphics by SD Healthy Living Staff