By Sammy Cusimano
“How do I get rid of this?” Picture a person asking this question as they clutch their abdomen.
This is one of the most common complaints a personal trainer will hear from prospective clients before they begin a workout program. For most people the abdomen is the “trouble spot”. It is the first part of the body that many people want to tone. So how is it done?
Flattening your stomach is a three-part process. Each is equally essential to achieve results. The first is the most important- nutrition.
You must eat healthy and clean in order to lose belly fat. The second part of the plan is cardio. The combination of eating clean with burning more calories each day during exercise will keep the body in a fat burning cycle.
The third is a daily routine of abdominal and core specific exercises. By toning the abdominal muscles consistently the core will stay tight, as you burn more fat from cardio each day. Each of these parts feed off of each other when combined to collectively change the composition of your body.
The best way to tone the abs properly is to divide the routine into four parts- upper, lower, obliques, and lower back. It is very important to understand how each part of your core works that way you will understand the way that the muscles are stimulated by different directions of motion.
Any type of crunch exercise works upper abs. When the shoulder blades raise from a lying position the upper abs contract. Always include at least one type of crunch exercise in your daily abdominal routine.
Movement of the legs or knees works lower abs. All leg raises and knee raises stimulate the lower abs.
There are not many activities in everyday life where a person raises their legs or knees so the lower abs do not get much stimulation unless you target them with specific exercises. Always include a leg raise or knee-tuck exercise in your daily abdominal routine.
Obliques are the side muscles of the torso and are worked out by any twist motion. Medicine ball twists or crunches with a twist motion are great oblique exercises.
The important thing about obliques is to never use heavy weight while working the muscles because they may grow larger and give a bulkier look to your waistline.
High repetitions with light or no weight is the way to go. Make sure to always have a twist exercise in your routine for abdominals each day.
Lower back is very important to include in your daily core workout because without a strong back then your core will be out of balance. To maintain healthy posture and muscle balance the best exercise is the plank. In a face down position support the body on the forearms and balls of the feet with the entire body in a tight stiff position similar to a pushup. All the core muscles will work together to keep the body in alignment.
Make every abdominal workout a four part routine. One upper abs exercise, one lower, one oblique movement, and one lower back exercise. Start with 3 sets of each and perform the routine with little to no breaks.
The abdominal muscles respond really well to constant stimulation. It is better to do a five-minute per day abdominal workout six days per week than to do one or two marathon 30-minute abs day at the gym.
Combining a daily abs routine with clean eating and daily cardio is the formula for success with tightening the core and saying goodbye to belly fat.
It is important to keep the waistline in shape not only for aesthetic reasons but also for health reasons. The more fat stored in the abdomen area, the higher the risk of heart disease and the greater chance of spinal problems as well. Stay on top of your abdominal muscles and many other benefits will fall into place.
Take care of your core and it will take care of you!
Sammy Cusimano is the founder of Genesys Training based out of New Orleans, LA and has been a professional trainer since 2001. His experience with training clients ranges from competitive athletes to senior citizens. Cusimano’s goal as a trainer is to help clients safely reach their fitness potential and become the best version of themselves for overall health and wellness.