Anyway, today's topic: Flat stomach, Abs, Muscle, Fat Loss - something I ALWAYS hear people talking about, something people ALWAYS love to talk to me about. So here I am today, to debunk all the common misconceptions that have crept into people's minds and lives, and SHOW you (quite literally) how to achieve the best version of your own body and mind.
It INFURIATES me - literally, when I hear people say things like:
1. A low-carbohydrate diet is good because it makes you thin/lean/WHATEVER.
Here's the caveat:
At the expense of your ENTIRE body - your brain, your mood, your muscles, your vital organs.
Carbs are your body's #1 preferred source of fuel. No carb = no energy = angsty, lethargic, physically and mentally inefficient.
More importantly, it is not sustainable and inhibits your success at long term weight management.
The trick here is to eat the optimal proportion of carbohydrates, protein and fats. There's a lot of debate about the "optimal" proportion but in my opinion, each body is unique so you really have to trial an error to find YOUR "golden ratio". I would say, listen to your body and be mindful about what it needs.
2. Long and low intensity cardio (jogging, cycle) is the most effective weight loss/fat burn method.
Not only does it fail to build calorie burning muscles, it even eats away your muscles and gives you the "skinny-fat" look. You would also have to keep increasing the duration of your cardio session because your body simply adapts to your repetitive exercise. Your calorie burning capacity is also limited to your workout session, meaning that once you're done with your 2 hour session on the treadmill or elliptical, your body's DONE! Done with the increased burning of calories and back to its normal state. On top of that, do I have to mention that low intensity cardio is INCREDIBLY BORING?
BUT that doesn't mean that low intensity cardio is bad - I'm just saying that it is not the most efficient and effective means to achieve a lean physique. For people who are new to exercise, low intensity cardio is probably one of the best ways to get yourself started because it is easy to learn and it is easy on your body, thus allowing your body to adapt to your increased physical activity without shocking it.
For people who enjoy long cardio sessions, please - go ahead and do what you enjoy!! Do it because it makes you happy! Ditch the calories and just focus on treating your body to something enjoyable and healthy.
3. The more ab exercises I do, the more I'll be able to see my abs.
The ab exercises help to strengthen your abdominal muscles, which work together with the muscles along the back of your spine to stabilize your torso. To have a strong "core" is to have strong ab muscles and also back muscles, especially those close to your spine.
All these ab exercises are great - they improve your posture which gives you a firmer looking mid-section and a much more confident appearance. What these exercises do also, is to make your muscles (abdominis and obliques) GROW & POP OUT.
If you have a thick enough layer of fat at your mid-section, be rest assured that your ripped six pack ab would STILL be safely shielded from the eyes of the human race :P
So how do you spot a lean physique with a flat tummy?
1. Lower your overall body fat percentage (BF%)
For ladies, I would definitely not recommend that we aim for a BF% under 15% because our reproductive system NEEDS those fats around the abdomen area. It is not realistic and extremely unhealthy to force ourselves to a body fat percentage that is too low. You know that it's too low when your body starts feeling lethargic and you start missing your periods. No fun at all. I've been there, done that, sucks big time and NO ONE deserves to go through that.
Most of us ladies are between 20 - 30+%.
Gentlemen, around 20% +/-.
2. Do Metabolic Resistance Training
Metabolic Resistance Training is basically a circuit training with compound exercises involving heavy weights with minimal rest between exercises (30 to 60 seconds). Right. Let's break this down:
Circuit: a series of resistance exercises
Compound exercises: exercises that require the use of more than 1 joint and muscle group
Here's a sample of a Metabolic Resistance Training routine that I used last Friday (15 Nov):
10 minute jog on treadmill
main routine: x3 sets
10kg (barbell) negative reps barbell rows + forward lunges x12
Squats with squat bar x12
10kg good morning + military press (bringing barbell forward & back) x12
Deadlifts with squat bar x12
12.5kg dumbbell swing x12
12.5kg oblique tilt x12/side
25kg lateral pulls x12
10min treadmill HIIT:
30s 15km/hr, 1min 9km/hr
Random ab exercises and stretches for cooldown
3. Minimize stress
By stress I mean both physical and mental. Basically your body interprets them in the same manner and produces higher levels of cortisol (stress hormone). Cortisol is important because it triggers the "fight or flight" response - saving us from accidental falls and slips, increases our alertness during a presentation or important meeting. However, some of us are so exposed to stressful situations that our body ends up producing high levels of cortisol for prolonged periods, to the point where we are under chronic stress.
High levels of cortisol prompts our bodies to go into what I like to call "saver mode" because it tries to save us from what it perceives as harm - by storing abdominal fat, as if in preparation for a famine. THANKS, BUT NO THANKS!
4. Sleep at least 7 consecutive hours each night
This I would love to specifically mention because most people around me function on a measly 5 hours of sleep. Some people even manage to reach 3-4 hours.
Sleep deprivation is interpreted by your body as physical stress (back to point 4). On top of that, muscle building and recovery occurs at its peak when you're asleep. So if you want your abs to POP, get that sleep in!
Finally, here's what makes for breaks your attempt at sculpting an enviable flat stomach, incredible looking abs and more importantly, long term weight management:
5. Watch your diet
It is really 80% diet and 20% exercise. You can spend 2 hours working out in the gym every day (go get a life!) but you still have 22 other hours to take care of. If you spend the other 22 hours eating processed food, drinking sugared water, feeling stressed, refusing to go to bed and engaging in a myriad of not-so-healthy activities, your 2 hours in the gym is not going to yield as much results as you would like it to.
Didn't I just show you all the junk that I eat?! Now, let me show the the full story :P
PICTURES OF FOOOOOODDDDD! <3
I am also notorious for shoving down bananas and cracking hard boiled eggs in class :P
Incorporate these 5 tips into your life and I'm sure that you're gonna see results! It doesn't matter whether you're trying to lean up or lose weight, or just trying to get fit. These 5 tips are lifestyle choices and good habits to cultivate. You don't need to have defined six/four packs or even a flat stomach to look fabulous. What you need is confidence and love for your own body. Defined muscle tone is just another side effect of a healthy lifestyle and love for your own body.
Ultimately, fitness is holistic - the completion and sync of the mind and body. With this, I leave you with this beautiful quote: