It is the epitome of the healthy body image – the flat, muscular stomach. A goal of exercisers all over this nation and beyond, a toned tummy can seem ridiculously out of reach for many people because the stubborn belly fat is often the last to leave. However, there are ways to increase your chances of achieving this ultimate goal. In fact, following these key guidelines should land you in the workout end zone faster than you had ever imagined.
In fact, the first step to getting a more desirable stomach can have immediate impact. Are you a person that likes instant gratification? Then, listen up. The first step to securing a better looking midsection is to address the way you sit and stand. It might sound like a funny concept, but bad posture is the leading cause of bulbous bellies. Don’t believe it? Well, go to the mirror then. Standing sideways, allow yourself to sneak a peek at the target area. After a few seconds, make an effort to straighten and elongate your spine. Squeeze you glutes, so the muscles are tight, bring your chin back until your head rests directly in line with your back and, without holding your breath, pull your belly button toward your spine. Once in better alignment, you will probably be surprised at how much better your tummy looks. Many people also stand with their weight shifted too far forward, so you may want to try pulling your weight back until it is centered over the balls of your feet. This will also help
with the new image. Practicing this posture and doing exercises to promote it will help significantly. You will find that the longer you work on it, the more natural it feels to stand like that.
Another step that should be taken is to revamp your thinking on this subject. Rather than addressing the abs as a lone entity, keep in mind that they are a small part of the whole. Whole body workouts will be more effective at training your body to hold proper posture and will also help you shed the pounds that give the belly its paunch more quickly. So, focus your attention on exercises, such as Yoga or Pilates, which emphasize core strength (back, stomach, gluteus muscles) as well as balance and posture.
When exercising, keep attention to your mid-section, even if the exercise is not intended to target that area. Many people miss ample opportunities to work on those stubborn ab muscles because they don’t recognize the potential. For instance, when running on a treadmill or an elliptical, keep your tummy tight (think of pulling your navel to your spine). Taking the extra time to focus on these muscles while doing cardio does double duty for the midsection. Similarly, when lifting with other areas of the body, be sure that the core is being used as support system. The butt should always be flexed and the stomach should be pulled in tight whenever exerting energy.
Finally, address your diet. It’s something that few want to do, but making alterations to your daily diet is likely the piece of the puzzle most likely to get you the picture perfect abs. So, count those calories, choose the foods that will keep you full longer (protein and fiber) and avoid easily digested carbohydrates (such as sugar, white bread, white rice, or pasta). Think of nature – fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, whole grains, and dairy (low-fat preferred) – and you will likely find the diet that helps you drop the last few stubborn pounds. Part of dietary changes and workout routines, however, is having realistic goals. It is going to be very difficult to stand by these changes if you are expecting to drop fifty pounds in two months. Rather than setting benchmarks that are so far out of reach (like flat abs when you are fifty pounds overweight) out of reach, start small. You might make initial goals like, ‘I want to lose two pounds this week’ or ‘I am going to be able to do fifty crunches per day by the end of this month’ or ‘I just want to last through three whole Yoga classes this week.’ Small goals achieved will make you feel good and give you more motivation to keep moving.