Want the secret to getting awesome abs? Look no further—we’ve compiled all the best tricks for getting those abs to pop (yes, diet and exercise are included).
Do The Right Cardio
Ab exercises will help define those muscles, but don't forget cardio for overall weight loss. The strongest abdominals won’t matter if they’re hidden under a layer of fat. If you want results fast, try high intensity interval training (HIIT), which has been proven to be one of the best ways to fight belly fat. A study in the International Journal of Obesity revealed that when compared to women who cycled at a consistent pace for 40 minutes, women who worked out for 20 minutes, but alternated between eight-second sprints and 12 seconds of low-intensity cycling, lost more belly fat after 15 weeks. Work out half as long and lose more fat? Sounds good to me!
You can also try intense interval cardio first thing in the morning in a fasted state. Bodybuilding.com recommends doing two to three 45-minute interval cardio sessions per week, first thing in the morning (in a fasted state). Then watch your abs appear. It’s a myth that low intensity, long duration cardio works best for fat loss.
It's not just in the foods you eat—what you drink can help de-bloat and flatten your tummy as well. Drinking a glass of water with lemon every morning, for example, will help you alkalize your body, which helps you burn fat and detox your system.
Plain old H2O is also extremely important. From now on, drink at least 16 ounces of water as soon as you wake up in the morning. German scientists recently found that doing this boosts metabolism by 24% for 90 minutes afterward (A smaller amount of water had no effect). What's more, a previous study determined that muscle cells grow faster when they're well hydrated. A general rule of thumb: Guzzle at least a gallon of water over the course of a day.
Monounsaturated Fatty Acids
Foods high in monounsaturated fatty acid burn fat, particularly around the midsection. Go for MUFA-rich foods like avocados, almonds, olive oil, and pistachios, to help you keep your belly full and slim.
Don’t Skip Breakfast
A University of Massachusetts study showed that men who skip their morning meal are 4.5 times more likely to have bulging bellies than those who don't. So within an hour of waking, have a meal or protein shake with at least 250 calories.
British researchers also found that breakfast size was inversely related to waist size. That is, the larger the morning meal, the leaner the midsection. But keep the meal's size within reason: A 1,480-calorie smoked-sausage scramble at Denny's is really two breakfasts, so cap your intake at 500 calories.
Add More to Your Ab Routine
Work All Layers: If you've only go one type of ab workout in your routine, your midsection is missing out. Working your core involves exercising all your abdominal layers, not just the top part that you can see. The inner muscles help pull in your belly for a slimmer waist. Bodybuilding.com recommends getting in tune with your "inner weight belt”, or your Transverse Abdominis (TVA). Simply pull your belly button in away from your waistband during exercise's and sporadically throughout the day.
Try Adding Weights: Grabbing hand weights for your ab work will increase the difficulty and challenge your ab muscles further.
Find Your Balance: Another way to challenge your abs is to make your workout a little unstable. Do planks on a rocker board or stand on a BOSU while you do bicep curls to make almost any exercise an ab-working move.
Your core muscles need oxygen to work at full capacity, so be sure that you keep breathing. As a general rule, you want to inhale on the easiest part of the move (on the way down from a crunch) and exhale when you have to exert the most force (on the way up on a crunch).
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