For many men, the epitome of being physically fit is being able to show off those rock-hard and well-sculpted abs at some resort in the Caribbean, with a model in the backdrop flinging her hair in slow motion as some enchanting music plays in the background; yep, almost like an episode of baywatch. Well, with these tips, having those ripped abs would be the least of your problems, finding the model is another story, you’ll probably have to take care of that on your own.

For women on the other hand, it’s more a case of losing that extra belly fat that’s been nagging you for some time, or maybe even that post pregnancy weight-gain that’s been a consistent bother ever since delivery. Whatever it may be, for both men and women, having a great six pack is always a plus. It also works wonders for your overall health. According to The American Council of Exercise – a respected institution with an international reputation for fitness research-, strengthening the abs is essential for preventing injuries, maintaining good posture, alleviating lower back pain, and improving performance not only in athletic pursuits but also in one’s normal daily life.1

What are the best ab exercises?

According to one study by the above mentioned American Council of Exercise, not all abdominal exercises are created equal. In fact, some have proven to not be as effective as was previously believed. Author of the study, Peter Francis PhD, led various controlled experiments which confirmed that the following abdominal exercises have proven to be the most effective:

  • Bicycle manoeuvre
  • Captain’s chair
  • Crunches on exercise ball

In addition to the above-mentioned ab exercises, flutter kicks, planks, and seated row crunches are also very effective.2

Weight Lifting & Cardio

It’s not too hard to find those quite unrealistic advertisements for products or programs promising to get you rock hard abs in like 3 to 6 days, or whatever the case may be. The reality is that that’s not the case. Getting great looking abs is part of a process that takes time and effort. You’ve got to invest the time and be consistent with diet and training to get visible results fast.

Lifting weights may sometimes be considered a bit too much for some, or a bit too extreme if you’re trying to get a six-pack, but believe it or not, it actually does more than just build muscles. According to Harvard Health, it also starves off diseases like osteoporosis – a bone degenerative disease known to take onset from age 40 onwards.3 In addition, it helps you to stay active and build even more confidence. Even on the most minimal level, at least it gets the blood flowing in preparation for what your main focus is – those ab exercises.

Concerning cardio exercises, it’s probably the most critical in cutting down on the excess body fat which is what is most likely accumulating in your midsection. It’s also extremely important for overall health. According to the International Journal of General Medicine, it’s emphasized that regular physical activity of moderate intensity is critical for the prevention and “complementary treatment of diseases”.4 So in addition to getting those rock hard abs, you’re guaranteed improved health along the way.

Best Cardio workouts for a flat stomach:

  • Interval running – Intermittent sprinting and jogging.
  • High knees – jogging on the spot while lifting your knees high up to your chest.
  • Running Steps – jogging up stairs, while resting on as you go down.
  • Mountain climbers – You start off at a straight arm plank position; lift your knee straight to the center of your body. Do this repeatedly as if to simulate walking up a mountain.

A diet plan for great abs

Without a proper diet, all of the hard work is in vain. Firstly, you’ll have to start off by finding some of the best healthy recipes to make your ab workouts worth it.

Considering all the time you’ll be putting into getting your abs right, it’ll certainly be a disappointment to not see the results that you deserve.

Here’s a list of 5 foods for flat abs:

Almonds

This may surprise many, but almond nuts contain a great deal of protein and fibre. In addition, it’s a good source of magnesium.

Recommended: 1 ounce per day (approx. 23 almonds); equals to about 160 calories.

Eggs

Eggs are also another excellent source of protein. They also provide essential amino acids which your body uses to manufacture muscle fibre and even brain chemicals.

Recommended: Ideally 1 egg per day (213 milligrams of cholesterol). If you suffer from high cholesterol then check with your doctor first.

Soy

Soybeans are a great source of antioxidants. Taken correctly its health benefits are substantial.

Recommended: Twenty-five grams of whole (not isolated) soy protein daily.

Berries

Considered to be a dieter’s best friend, berries are one of those fruits that you can eat in large measure without packing on enormous amounts of calories. Have variety: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries etc.

Recommended: A half cup daily equals to about 30 calories; however, you’ll burn those off with ease.

Leafy Greens

Known to help prevent cancer, leafy greens don’t pack a whole lot of calories and provide enormous amounts of nutrients.

Recommended: As much as you want!

Note* – A cup of spinach is approx. 40 calories; 1 cup of broccoli is 55 calories.

References:

  1. American Council on Exercise – Ace Fitness
  2. Abs Workout Video – NHS
  3. Strength Training Build more than Muscles – Harvard
  4. Cardiovascular Benefits of Exercise – NCBI

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