Building Great Abdominals

abdominalsLet’s start it off with reviewing a little bit of our anatomy. Abdominals or what we informally call “Abs” is a big group of muscles in front of the stomach. They provide movement and support to the core. They also assist in breathing and supports posture. The most prominent among them is the rectus abdominis, it is a long flat muscle extending vertically from the pubis bone to the 5th, 6th, and 7th ribs; it gives the 6-pack effect we’d all like to flaunt.

“Abs are made in the kitchen.”

There is truth in this old adage. You just can’t out exercise a bad diet. Abs, just like any other muscle, have to be worked out and provided adequate rest to facilitate growth, but what about the belly fat covering those chiseled muscles you’ve been working hard for? In order to reveal those muscles, a certain body fat percentage should be achieved. The solution is not as expensive as liposuction, and is way safer than any other methods. It is simply a firm commitment to clean healthy eating; it might not be that simple though. Eating clean means selecting foods naturally extracted from the source such as eggs, fresh meat, and organically grown fruits and vegetables. Avoid those that come in boxes and cans, processed and/or preserved.

Commitment and consistency is a must. This is where most of us fail. It’s not like “once I get nice abs I’ll go back to fast foods”. I’m not saying no to cheat meals, but maybe you might not want to cheat at all once you get started eating clean. You will feel the difference not just in your abdominal area but your whole system. Satisfaction guaranteed.

Say ‘no’ to processed foods. If you can’t completely eliminate it, cut it down to the least possible amount. Every time I check new products in the grocery store, I would always read the labels and have this little voice inside my head saying ‘if you can’t read it, don’t buy it’. It applies mainly to the ingredients that I can hardly recognize; it’s like going back to chemistry class!

Refined Sugar. High blood sugar content hinders the body’s ability to use stored fats for energy. If you reduce your sugar consumption, the level of your ‘fat-storing’ hormone insulin drops and in response your glucagon level rises. The hormone glucagon promotes less fat storage and allows the body to use stored fats. A good quality intake of lean protein and complex carbohydrates will minimize insulin spikes and promote less fat storage as explained by the insulin-glucagon balance. Maintaining an optimal level of blood sugar helps to facilitate more fat-burning throughout the day.

Healthy fats. Don’t be alarmed with the word ‘fats’. Healthy fats are essential in your diet; they help increase HDL cholesterol and lower the bad LDL cholesterol in your body. It boosts immunity and brain function. According to research, they also help prevent accumulation of belly fat. Good sources of healthy fats are nuts, avocados, fish, olives, canola and olive oils, flaxseeds and sesame seeds.

Water! Adequate water intake offers lots of benefits for the human body. Drinking water helps you suppress your appetite and prevents you from overeating. It will also help you cut down on your flavored sugary drinks and unnatural juices. Surprisingly, we sometimes confuse thirst for hunger and we take snacks when in fact we just need to hydrate. You need water, do not ignore the need and definitely do not substitute.

..or made in the gym?

Some people do not agree with the saying ‘abs are made in the kitchen’, they prefer saying ‘Abs are made in the gym, and revealed in the kitchen’, whatever.

2 things to keep in mind when choosing the right exercises to develop your abs: Do something that totally challenges the abdominal muscles, and do something interesting. With the variety of exercises available today, there’s no need to stick to your hundred-rep sit-ups.