Great abs definitely are coveted – and flaunted – in our image-conscious society. And although most of us want the best abs, not everyone knows how to get them (it’s not about doing hundreds of sit-ups a day anymore!).
There is no magic solution here, and pills that advertise getting a ripped belly fast usually end up a disappointment. The reality is that it takes hard work to achieve and maintain the best abs. Defining your middle typically is the result of terrific genes, a low body fat percentage, a healthy diet, consistent cardiovascular workouts and a variety of core exercises, including routines like yoga and Pilates.
Reducing body fat through healthy eating and exercise is essential. The ab muscles lie beneath the fat layer under the skin, so unless this layer is minimized, a six-pack won’t be visible. Here are a few tips to decrease body, and belly, fat and build more muscle.
Tips for the Best Abs
- Cut intake of high fat, high sugar foods – replace these with fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and lowfat dairy products.
- Drink more water – dehydration can be mistaken for hunger, so consume more water and, at the same time, limit alcohol, coffee, juices, smoothies and soda to cut calories.
- Sleep more – here’s a welcome tip! Studies show that skimping on sleep can trigger cravings for sugary and fatty foods, as well as can affect cortisol levels and insulin sensitivity, which can raise body fat.
- Make cardio exercise a habit – for overall health and fitness, you have to do regular cardio exercise, such as jogging, cycling, dancing and more – at least three times each week.
- Do interval training – steady-state cardio activity is valuable, but performing high-intensity interval training once or twice weekly results in even greater caloric expenditure and better conditioning.
- Perform strength exercises – the best way to build your metabolism and reshape your physique is to perform strength exercises that target the major muscle groups several times each week.
- Challenge yourself with multiple core exercises – variety, not necessarily quantity, is the key here. Hit all four of the ab muscle groups with exercises like planks, side bends and rotations, bicycles, V-sits and back extensions.
- Try Pilates and yoga – these time-honored disciplines are known for their core strengthening and body confidence-boosting benefits.
- Manage stress – High stress adds to cortisol levels and can lead to mindless eating. Exercise, meditation, hobbies and mindful breathing can help keep stress under control.