Summer is here and with the warm days comes the excitement—or for some, the insecurity—of wearing a two-piece bathing suit. There is a saying that goes, “summer abs are made in the winter,” but they are really built every day and in all seasons. This is because seeing your abdominal muscles is the result of shedding fat from your midsection. You “build” six-pack abs by reducing the amount of fat that covers them, period.
While you may want to focus on creating sculpted abs to show off on the beach or at the pool, don’t wear blinders when it comes to the rest of your efforts. Neglecting other muscle groups and your overall caloric intake can hurt the progress you’ve been making all year. If you are finding yourself obsessing—or “ab-sessing”—about how to get a summer six-pack, be sure to follow these BS-free tips.
Decide now what your priority is. If your priority is to have abs that you want to show off all the time and to feel confident in any outfit then make your fueling decisions around this. Foods that are low in calories and high in fiber, like berries, are a great in-season snack. Also, strawberries are an excellent source of magnesium which is the nutrient that helps your body absorb all other nutrients. The common phrase “abs are made in the kitchen” should really be “abs can be ruined in the kitchen.” Carefully plan your meals and snacks to keep your body fueled and ready to work.
You can’t neglect your other muscle groups. Don’t spend every workout on the floor doing a hundred crunches and call it a day. You need to continue strength and conditioning for the entire body.
When you ignore your other muscle groups, you lose the strength that you gained elsewhere and you miss the opportunity to burn additional body fat. To help keep your entire body strong and toned while focusing on your abs, don’t forget the big exercise that is great for several muscle groups: push-ups.
If you need more variety in your routines try to work and engage the muscles while you are doing other exercises. For example, while doing bicep curls and shoulder presses with free weights, balance on your left foot with your right leg extended. This will engage your core and force your body to work harder during a simple curl. Alternate the balancing foot each set.
Running absolutely helps your abs. Running is an excellent cardio workout and it helps to burn fat from the entire body. The relationship is reciprocal: when your abs and your entire core are stronger, your “trunk” is more stable allowing for a more efficient running motion. You can add a run to the beginning or end of any workout to continue to work on your abs while still elevating your heart-rate. To really see results on your midsection, work some HIIT (high-intensity interval training) into your runs.
People often mistake their abs for their entire core. This is not entirely true, because your core includes the abdominal muscles as well as muscles on your hips and lower back. If you want to strengthen your abs, you need to perform balanced exercise routines that focus on the entire system.