Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Six Pack Challenge: 4 Steps to A Flat Stomach

Nicole Murphy (Eddie's ex) is KILLING it. She's like 50. with 5 kids. like seriously.
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In the last few weeks, I have had a number of female clients and friends ask me how to achieve a a flat, toned stomach. Six packs used to be the epitomy of manliness; maybe they still are. But they are now also seen by many women as a sign of fitness, health and strength. It's cool to be strong, and although not everyone wants a six pack, most people I know at least want a flat stomach. So for those who's New Year's Resolution lasted past the fourth of january, follow the five steps below for a washboard stomach:

1. Eat right:
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Your six pack is made in the kitchen, not in the gym: You've probably heard this a gazillion times but it's true. It doesn't matter how much you exercise; if your eating isn't right, that flat stomach you crave will remain out of your reach. So, what to change?

  • Increase your protein: proteins are the building blocks of muscles. every time you exercise, your muscles develop tears which take time to heal. Increasing your protein intake helps your muscles not only recover but also helps them grown. If you want to have a strong, lean core, you need to grow and strengthen your abdominal muscles. 
Tip: Protein keeps you fuller longermake sure you eat a lean protein with every meal and snack. Eggs, lean meats, nuts, seeds, tofu and low fat dairy are excellent sources of protein.           
  • Reduce your carbs: we are a carb nation. A carb generation actually. We LOVE carbs, the starchier, the more processed, the better. But excess carbs get stored as fat. And most of us live relatively sedentary lives so we simply don't need as many carbs as we consume. 
Tip: Remember that even healthy foods like fruit and veg contain carbs too so avoid overconsuming starchy fruits or root vegetables. When you do eat carbs, make sure they are whole grain.
  • Eat small frequent meals: the biggest mistake people make when wanting to lose weight is to drastically reduce their food intake by either cutting portions or skipping meals altogether. Split your food into 6 small meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism up.
Tip: Plan and prepare all your meals and snacks in advance so you don't get caught out; we make bad choices when we are hungry!

2. Ditch the sit-ups: 

Kelly Rowland: Making planking look easy
image credit: Us Weekly
Exercises that target your stomach muscles are great, if done right. The trouble is, we often don't do them right and even when we do, they can be very inefficient. Try compound exercises instead; these not only require you to engage your core but you work more muscles at the same time meaning you also burn more calories. 

Tip: Try planks, bicycles and leg raises: these work all your abdominal muscles at the same time.

3. Work smarter not harder: 

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A strong core is fantastic for posture, helping reduce back and knee pain, but if you really want those muscles to pop, you need to add some resistance. Weighted exercises or using props makes your abdominals work harder.

Tip:  A stability ball may be one of the best things you invest in for working on your core.

4. Burn that fat: 

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We all have a six pack under the layer of fat: This is not an urban myth. Doing cardio burns fat and makes those muscles really pop. 

Tip: Do NOT go crazy with the cardio. Cardio burns fat but it also eats into your muscle. For great abs, you need those muscles to grow so focus on quality rather than quantity. Interval training should be your mantra. 30 minutes, 3-5 times a week.

Feel free to ask any questions below. 

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