I used to spend almost an hour each day doing my abs routine. I would do 100 crunches, 100 bicycle crunches and so on. It was insane! I struggled day after day to finally get the flat stomach I always wanted. However, that flat stomach never materialized.
Then I found out what I was doing wrong.
It is actually quite easy to get a flat tummy and burn excess body fat if you know how to do it correctly. Working individual body parts to trigger weight loss or muscle development doesn’t work. In order to flatten your stomach or define your abdominal muscles, you need to skip the crunches and work the entire body.
Work Your Entire Body, Not Just Your Abs
I haven’t done a crunch in almost six months and I’ll be happy to never do one again. Workouts like planks, push-ups, pull-ups (yes, women need to do these too), lower-abs raises and mountain climbers will get you much faster results. The reason is that they work your entire body.
Sure, they are harder to do, but that’s why they are more effective and produce faster results. Full body workouts will boost your metabolism and help you burn fat even while you sleep.
(My favorite workout program that I use is called Turbulence Training.)
If you are a woman and concerned that intense, full body workouts might make you look “too ripped”, stop worrying! Big muscles don’t develop overnight. You can pull back on the intensity level of your workouts once you get the stomach flattening results you are looking for. Developing, building and strengthening your muscles are essential for healthy weight loss (and for getting flat abs).
What’s Preventing Your Flat Stomach
What if you are working out regularly, eating healthy and finally got down to your ideal weight but you still do not have a flat stomach (or a six pack)? Well, there are a few reasons.
To much water can look like excess weight. Too much sodium in your diet can cause your body to retain water. Even if you are retaining water, you should stay hydrated as it helps to flush out toxins in your body. Try reducing the amount of sodium in your diet but don’t cut it completely as it is an essential nutrient.
Abdominal bloating from gas or digestion problems. This is a common problem for people who eat a poor diet that contains too much fat, processed foods and refined sugars. The extra gases in your intestines are going to add some inches around your waistline.
If you are transitioning to a more fruit and vegetable-based diet (such as the raw food diet), you might also have some gas or bloating at first. This will clear up as long as you are not eating too much fat in your diet. If you consistently suffer from excess gas and bloating, take a good look at your diet and try to rule out any food intolerance that might be causing the problem.
Inflammation due to food allergies you might not know about. Many people have some allergic reaction to foods. Gluten allergies are on the rise, but most people don’t know they have a problem. Inflammation is your body’s way of defending itself against allergies to food or medications you might be taking. Most of these inflammations are around the stomach area. Talk to your doctor about an allergy test if you suspect that this might be an issue.
Medications. Some medications will hinder your ability to lose weight. Do some research or talk to your doctor or pharmacist about what prescriptions you are taking and if there might be an effective alternative.
You’re not eating enough. This might sound strange, but if you are restricting your calories too much, your body will go into “starvation mode” and store the few calories you eat as fat. Be sure you are getting adequate calories to fuel your body and provide ample energy for your workouts.
Diet and exercise is the key to a flat tummy, but everyone’s body type is going to be different. At some point you have to learn to love your body for the shape it is. Focus on being healthy and fit and try not to get caught up in the nitty-gritty details of body image.
Work hard, but don’t work so hard that you miss out on loving yourself and enjoying your life because you don’t look like you just walked out of a plastic surgeon’s office.
Another Flat Abs Secret Weapon
Okay, it’s not exactly a “secret”, but a daily green smoothie is a tremendous weight loss strategy. They can help you kick off a healthy diet, lose weight, provide energy to fuel your workouts and curb cravings for unhealthy sweets.
Read more about green smoothie weight loss.
Tracy Russell is the creator of the Green Smoothie Weight Loss Program, the 30-Day Whole Foods Challenge and founder of Incredible Smoothies. She is passionate about helping people improve their health with green smoothies and a whole foods lifestyle.