Once again summer has come and gone and I’m bombarded with the age-old question, “How do I get abs like yours?” It’s not easy but it’s also not as hard as you think. We have all seen the people at the gym on the Ab Roller, crunching away until the cows come home—what a waste of time. Here’s the real way to get great abs:
1. Cardio Timing: The most fundamental thing to remember about your abs is that you will not be able to see them while that layer of fat is covering them. Thirty to 45 minutes of cardio three to four times a week is a great start. Obviously if you do more cardio the results will come quicker, but not in the form of more cardio per session, but more days. So optimally I would say five to six days a week for 45 minutes, keeping your heart rate in the 130–140 beats per minute range.
2. Better Nutrition: All the cardio in the world is not going to help you if you are going home to a piece of chocolate cake. Just as you work hard in the gym, you must work at home on your eating habits. Food is the No. 1 key to seeing your abs.
3. Eat Enough Protein: With the low-carb fads in full force, I do believe one good thing has come of it: People have recognized the importance of protein. I recommend one gram per pound of lean body mass for the weekend warrior, 1½ grams for serious weight trainers.
4. Deadly Carbs: No, I don’t think that the zero-carb diet is the way to go, and I also don’t believe that cut- ting starches is right. For the average person trying to lose weight, one to two grams of carbs per pound of lean body mass is necessary to retain muscle and actually stay at a healthy level where you can function on a daily basis. Carbs are protein sparing, meaning they will allow your body to use the protein to build muscle while you’re carbs fuel your body throughout the day. This will help you keep or build the hard-earned muscle you’re working for which in turn will help you burn more fat! More muscle equals more calories burned!
5. Are Fats the Enemy? There are bad fats and good fats. For example: hamburgers, bacon, sausage, and ice cream all contain bad fats. They are deemed bad fats for one simple reason: They are saturated fats, and these fats aren’t used by the body for energy. Saturated fats are important for maintaining proper hormone levels in the body, but you don’t need much, so keep it to a minimum. Examples of good fats are: salmon, nuts, flax oil, coconut oil, and olive oil to name a few. These are mono or poly saturated fats and can be used by the body for energy. They also serve a higher purpose in keeping our body’s inflammatory responses down. I recommend that 20%of your daily calories come from mainly good fats for a healthy lifestyle. This number can increase to 30%or even 40%if your carbs are too low.
6. The Bottom Line: Aside from all the calculations, the bottom line is calories and how many you are taking in compared with how many you are burning. If your body needs a caloric intake of 2,000 and you are ingesting 3,000, then therein lies your problem. Eat less.
7. The Fountain of Youth: Many people believe that the more water they drink the more they will retain when in fact this is completely backward. The body will retain water when only small amounts are taken in for fear of dehydration. When you are drinking an abundance of water the body will keep flushing it because it has no fear of running out. I recommend three to four liters daily for the weekend warrior and six to eight liters for the hardcore trainers. Remember, less water retention means more definition, which will help expose those great abs you want so badly!
8. The Program: Instead of doing a high-volume ab workout once a week, a little work more often can really shape things up for you.