Do you spend hours doing crunches or sit ups and yet, you are not getting ripped or six pack abs? Chances are you've been doing it all wrong!
It's a common mistake in most people who want visible abs to do abdominal exercise only. Sure, you develop abdominal muscle but it's only hidden under a layer of fat. In fact, you may find your ab getting bigger as a result of the increased muscle mass.
If you want visible abs, your focus should be on reducing excess body fat.
Low body fat = ripped abs
You achieve low body fat by burning more calories than you consume.
Here are 4 tips for losing belly fat effectively and permanently.
1. Interval training
Research has shown that interval training is more superior to slow, steady cardio for fat loss. Your metabolism remains elevated post workout, thus resulting in the after burn effect. Effectively, you continue to burn calories even after an interval workout but not after a long, steady cardio workout.
Also, if you don't have long hours to spare in the gym, interval workouts enable you to achieve the most fat loss in the least amount of time.
Some examples of interval workouts are wind sprints, hill sprints, swimming sprints and speed rope jumping. You can also do intervals on a treadmill, stationary bicycle, stairclimber, rower and elliptical machines.
Proper nutrition is the key to fat loss. No matter how much or hard you train, you'll never get visible abs if you live on crisps, sodas, fast food, cookies and other crap.
Don't fall for any of the low carb, low fat, high protein and other fad diets. Instead, eat a healthy and well balanced diet that includes various food groups - carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins and minerals.
Eat 5 - 6 small meals a day to keep your energy levels stable. Choose wholesome, natural foods, preferably organic, and avoid processed foods.
Avoid refined and simple carbs that contain white flour and white sugar. Your main sources of carbohydrates are fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Include a source of high quality, lean protein with every meal. There are several benefits to consuming lean protein. Your body burns more calories from digesting protein than carbs or fats. Protein keeps hunger at bay and gives you a feeling of satiety. It is also necessary for building lean muscle that controls your metabolism and burns calories.
Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and to speed up fat loss.
Consume healthy fats from avocado, flax seed (or flax oil), nuts, seeds, fish (or fish oil), etc. Essential fatty acids help to regulate appetite and burn fat.
3. Resistance training
Resistance training not only sculpts your body but is important for building muscles. Like interval training, it raises your post workout metabolism so your body continues to burn calories even when you are doing nothing.
Aim for low rep resistance training, i.e. 8 reps per exercise, as it has been shown to boost metabolism after the workout.
If your goal is to burn fat, don't isolate your body parts by training certain muscle groups using single-joint movements.
Isolation exercises such as leg extension, bicep curl and tricep kickback burn little body fat. Shift your focus from single-joint to multi-joint muscle movements such as squats, lunges, split squats, pushups, chinups, rows, step ups and deadlifts. These are full body movements that work many muscles at one time, burn more calories during each workout and increase your metabolism post workout.
4. Reduce stress
Stess has been associated with belly fat. In stressful situations, your body releases a stress hormone called cortisol. Excess cortisol production leads to build up of belly fat.
A fat belly is more than ugly looking. Accumulated fat in the abdomen increases your risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Be aware of your stress level and learn to manage it through yoga, meditation, qi gong, tai chi and other stress reduction techniques.
The truth is there's no quick fix for losing belly fat.
Forget about ab gadgets, diets or magic pills that promise to give you lean abs. They are nothing but scams.
The good news is that you can attain a set of lean or six pack abs through a healthy diet plan and effective training program that promote fat loss.