Summer is coming and that means abs and swimsuit weather will soon be upon us. This is not your average fitness article. I am not going to promise you a six pack in six weeks. Instead, I want to tell you about holistic fitness and offer an approach to getting great abs that are accessible to all skill levels and body types. Below I will outline my approach to improving your core.
Your abdominal muscles do more than just look good. They support your back and upper body. No matter your skill level or body type, improving your core will improve your posture. Before you go any further: if you set your intention that improving your core is important for your overall health and not just your appearance, you will be successful.
If you have not done a crunch or sit-up in a few years then do not ask yourself to change overnight. Establish a realistic goal that involves a set amount of time. For many people fail at their workout intentions because they didn’t set an appropriate goal.
You might be shocked right now that we are three steps in and I have not mentioned any exercises. That is because this is probably the most important step of having a toned mid-section. To achieve a reduction in the size of your belly you will need to do two things. First, eliminate excessive sugar and obvious carbohydrates like bread, pasta, and rice. These items contribute to the fat formation over your abdominal muscles. Next, add in a daily probiotic. These help balance the bacteria in your gut. They are extremely effective at reducing mid-section bloating and increasing bowel movements. Yes, I said bowel movements.
I tend to be a little lazy when it comes to abdominal exercises. Truthfully I never want to do them. These are my go-to exercises that give great results with the least amount of effort. They can be modified for any level of fitness.
These odd looking metal balls come in a variety of weights from 8 lbs to 70 lbs. They work your hips, glutes, hamstrings, lats, abs, shoulders, and pecs all in one swing. A beginner workout might be 10 swings of an 8 lb kettlebell for 5 sets. A more advanced workout would be a 35 lb kettlebell with interval training of 20 seconds of continuous swinging and then, take 10 seconds of rest for a total of 4 minutes.
This particular exercise requires no equipment and can easily be done anywhere. It is an isometric exercise, which simply means you are not contracting your muscles to do it like crunches. For a beginner, you can start with holds for 15-20 seconds for 6 reps increasing to more advanced holds that can be anywhere from 1-3 minutes. An easy goal that incorporates this exercise is any version of a plank challenge where you increase the length you hold the exercise each day.
Be Smart About It
Consult your doctor if you have not exercised in awhile. Get the help of a personal trainer for 1 or 2 sessions to correct your form and technique.
These 5 steps are simple but they do involve some hard mental and physical work. Remember to keep in mind that the effort you put into tone your core pays off in a multitude of ways. A strong core makes you stand a little taller, take deeper breaths, and oh yeah, help you look great in a swimsuit. Good luck!