If someone asked a fitness trainer, a kinesiologist or a physiatrist what is the most common question their clients ask them, the following would appear on the list: “How many crucnhes a day do I have to do to see the abdominal muscles?“
There is only one right answer – none.
Most people to this day believe that crunches are the best exercise for achieving a flat stomach. However, they are not.
Why? For a very simple and logical reason.
Performing only crunches won’t melt belly fat but that doesn’t mean you should stop doing them. The combination of proper nutrition, strength training and aerobic training is the secret to a perfectly shaped abdomen, not only targeting exercises for the abdominal muscles.
Furthermore, before we start with concrete tips on the best way to get a flat stomach, I would like to debunk the following misconception: a flat stomach and visible abs are not an indicator of health.
What does that actually mean?
A person may have a perfectly shaped abdomen but at the same time suffer from lower back pain, have poor posture, a weak core (torso) or even suffer from some spinal deformity disorders, e.g., kyphosis, lordosis, scoliosis.
The abdominal muscles together with the neck muscles, back and gluteal muscles form the core which is the pillar, ie the carrier of the whole body. If we do not have a strong torso, the whole body will suffer, compensate and the above mentioned situations will occur very quickly.
So, in addition to the aesthetic motivation, a beautiful and flat stomach, one should be aware of the health motivation, the health and functionality of the whole torso or core. And that means we’re going to focus equally on training the whole body and not just training the abdominal muscle region. Only with this approach can we have a healthy and functional whole body.
Start losing those extra pounds not only from the belly area but also from the whole body area by following these steps:
1. Mental training
When it comes to losing fat, I will not lie. All these “tools” from the list will be useful to you in achieving your goal, but above all you need to prepare to be patient. In capital letters: PATIENT. Strong will and clearly defined goals will help you with that. Write down clearly how many pounds you want to lose, in what time frame and how and put them in a visible place. Once you put a goal on paper, you can no longer lie to yourself and you will actually start doing the same. The sooner you start, the more your brain will start believing that you will.
Most people have two associations: “I will be hungry” and “quality and healthy food is expensive.” First, you will not be hungry unless you consciously avoid meals (the most famous one is: “I’ll go to bed without dinner.)” Second, if you have enough money for a Big Mac, then you have enough for eggs. In the upcoming topics, I will show you some examples of ideas for practical and healthy meals, and until then, apply the following tips. Don’t eliminate anything from your diet, such as completely eliminating carbs or fats, but replace them with much healthier and more nutritious options. Here are a few basic examples of foods to help lose belly fat that you can include in your diet, you can’t go wrong with them: eggs, lean cheese, Greek yogurt, avocado, carrots, rice, salads, canned tuna, chicken, sweet potatoes, integral pasta, nuts, fruits, 75% and more dark chocolate. Try to eat carbs around the time of your workout (before your workout), get rid of unnecessary sugars (in coffee, tea, cakes), avoid bakeries, bread, chips and carb dinners. Avoiding dinner won’t make you thinner, it will only make you hungrier. The point is in the quality of the foods you choose.
3. Avoid feeling bloated and gassy
This doesn’t mean you need to completely exclude the following foods from your diet, but simply give your body a chance to see how it will behave and react to change. Foods that make you bloat are legumes (beans, peas, lentils), leafy vegetables (broccoli, kale, cabbage), lactose in milk, fast food (burgers and french fries), sweets and sugar free foods.
4.Drink enough water
Optimal hydration of the body is important for several reasons, but here I will mention only two: it cleanses the body of toxins and harmful substances and gives a false feeling of being full when you are hungry. So, instead of stopping by the bakery, bring a bottle of water and drink it while you’re on your way home.
5. Calorie deficit
For example, if your body’s daily needs are 1500kcal per day and your goal is to lose weight, then you need to consume fewer calories than your body needs. When the body recognizes that there are no more resources (calories) to create energy, it will begin to create energy from its own resources – fat (“handles” from the abdomen). As a reminder, this does not mean skipping dinner, but for example, reducing each meal you have during the day (3 basic meals) by ¼ of the portion. For dinner, instead of carbohydrates, consume a meal that’s rich in protein, e.g. chicken salad.
At the beginning of this article we clarified that there is no best exercise for a flat stomach and losing belly weight. It is best to combine strength exercises – squats, deadlifts, push-ups, rowing, etc. and aerobic exercises – bike, skipping ropes, rollerblading, speed walking, HIIT.
7. Perform exercises correctly
Odnosi se na apsolutno svaku vježbu i trening koji ćeš odraditi. Pravilno izvođenje vježbe znači spriječavanje ozljeda i maksimalnu aktivaciju mišića. Maksimalna aktivacija mišića znači sagorijevanje više energije/masti i postizanje bržih i boljih rezultata.
This applies to absolutely every exercise and workout you do. Properly performing the exercises means you’ll prevent injuries and maximally activate the muscles. Maximum muscle activation means you’ll burn fat faster and achieve faster and better results.
8. Proper breathing
Breathing properly will help you in further activating the abdominal muscles. How? For example, in the abdomen, when inhaling and especially when exhaling, instead of relaxing the abdominal muscles (abdomen outwards), pull the belly button inwards (as if you want to “glue” it to the spine.)
9. Get enough sleep
Sleep is important for the body’s recovery from stress, and research shows that people who do not get enough sleep have a greater tendency to gain weight; it affects blood sugar levels as well as hormone levels.
10. Reduce daily stress levels
As it was mentioned in number 9: a minimum of 7 hours of sleep, plus stop being nervous about things you can’t change. Rather start changing yourself today.
11. Track your weekly/monthly progress
Numbers are the most objective indicator of progress. Measure your waist circumference to make it easier to track your progress and repeat the same at the end of each week. When you see the numbers decrease, that will be your best motivation for the future.
By applying these tips, you are halfway to the goal and the results are guaranteed. Only patience, will and effort will lead you to a flat, muscular and firm belly.