Ever since I got into fitness and got certified as a trainer, many girls and guys have asked me: what do I have to do to have abs? Some of them told me how they have been doing sit-ups every day for weeks and were confused why they did not see the results. So since this has been a very popular question I get asked a lot, I thought I would sit down and write about a few things you need to keep in mind if you want nice, toned abs.
1. Abs are made in the kitchen
You have probably all heard it before by now, even so much it might sound like a cliché but it is true: abs are made in the kitchen. It doesn’t matter how many killer abs workouts you complete, without having the proper diet to accompany your fitness regimen, you will not see results. Why?
Because doing all those abs-strengthening workouts will only make your abdominal muscles stronger, but as long as there is still a layer of fat covering them, you will not actually see the results of your hard work. A reminder: doing abs exercises will not help you get rid of the fat over your abs. Please always remember: there is no such thing as fat reduction on one spot by workouts!
Of course, it depends a lot on your genetics as well: we all store our excess body fat at different areas. For example, whenever I gain a little extra fat, it will go straight to my thighs and hips, while my stomach will still remain flat – but others boast lean slender legs even when they have a little belly from the kilos they put on recently.
First and foremost what you will need to make sure is to have a diet of natural, nutritious whole foods and drink lots of water. All the additives and sodium from most of the premade, packaged food will cause you water retention and bloating and all the empty calories you might be getting in will just leave you hungry again very soon.
If you are not familiar with your body and metabolism and how to put together a smart meal plan that will give you all the macro and micro nutrients you need to still cut down on fat while remaining healthy, I recommend asking for a professional’s help.
2. Cutting fat in general
Although the biggest part of cutting down on fat happens in the kitchen, but pairing it with the right kind of training is what will give you the best results. And if you are not already pretty lean and want abs that is exactly what you need to do.
There is no time and space in this current post to talk about what kind of training and workouts you need to do, especially it differs so much for each and every individual, but in general, having a good balance of cardio and strength training, or doing HIIT workouts are good ways to get started.
3. No need to do abs everyday
A lot of people believe that if they want a toned stomach, they need to work on their abs and do exercises for them every single day. However, if you think about it: would you work out your legs, your back, your arms every day? No. Why? Because your muscles need rest and time to recover and if you are not giving it to them, they simply will not make progress. The same goes for your abdominals. Even though you do need to train them consistently and a little more often than other muscle groups, but no need for everyday training – every other day will do just as fine.
4. Sit-ups only won’t do
Another mistake a lot of people do when training for abs is sticking to doing sit-ups or simple crunches only. However, as I have mentioned in this article earlier, the abdominal muscles are just like every other muscle group. Think about training your legs. If you do only one exercise over and over again, are you going to have strong, toned muscles? With doing leg extensions only, will your hamstrings improve too? No.
It is the same logic behind training abs. First of all, even though we just say ‘abs’, our abdominal area has multiple different muscles (rectus abdominus, external and internal obliques, transverse abdominus) which all need to be trained to a nice toned stomach – but cannot all be trained doing sit-ups alone.
So go on YouTube and Pinterest and search for abs workouts that have variation to work all the different muscles in your abdominal area. For starters, you could check out this abs workout video I made a few months ago introducing some abdominal exercises other than those boring crunches.
These were really just some basics, tips in general. Every body is different, so for specific workout and meal plans, please talk to your personal trainer or dietician who can provide you with a customized program.