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Hey, pssstt, let me tell you a secret! One you’re dying to know, especially with bikini season right around the corner:
the secret to 6-pack abs!!
Don’t we all want a flat belly, with somewhat of a muscle line showing as well? Maybe some obliques coming through?
I’m going to have to disappoint you though… There is NO secret to getting a six-pack or a nice tight muscular belly!!
It’s pretty simple actually: a tight, flat and muscular belly is the result of fat-loss (if you have excess fat to lose) through a caloric deficit in your eating habits, as well as core-tightening and strengthening exercises, so the inner muscles of your torso are trained to keep your core strong and pulled in.
There are not secret exercises, no secret flat-belly foods, no superfoods, no diet tricks that will create a sixpack, it’s a logical combination of different things.
First of all, if you need to lose weight in the sense that if you have a fat-layer on your stomach, you need to focus on eating fewer calories than you consume, so you create a caloric deficit in your diet. That can be easily done by switching up some foods, changing some snacks, and eating smaller, but still satisfying, meals. Make sure you eat enough protein to keep your hard-earned muscle (if you lack protein in your diet, your muscles get depleted). Try to incorporate some protein in every meal, even your snacks. Protein in meals could be: chicken, salmon, tuna, red meat, eggs (eggwhites). Make sure you add plenty of vegetables in your meals. Vegetables are low in calories, full of vitamines and fiber and are a perfect ‘belly-filler’, so you can stay full longer, without adding on too many calories. Keep starchy carbs like rice, pasta, bread, potatoes to a minimum. Have snacks that combine either fats and protein (for example pre-workout for energy), or carbs and protein (post-workout for muscle recovery). An example of a snack high in fats and protein is greek yoghurt (regular, low-fat of nonfat) with 12 almonds, cashews or walnuts; a snack of carbs and protein could be non-fat greek yoghurt with a banana (or blueberries, strawberries…) or a protein-powder smoothie with some fruit and ice to give it a thick, filling consistency.
What about breakfast? There’s a big discussion going on at the moment about the importance of breakfast. The thing is: everyone’s different. Some people are really hungry when they get up and need food now! Other people can’t stomach any food untill 10-11 am. And that’s fine. Follow your hunger cues. Just make sure that what you eat at breakfast (or at 10 or 11 am for that matter) is constructive to your goal. Again, aim for a combination of protein and carbs, with a little fat as well. A good balanced breakfast for example is 30 grams of oatmeal with a side of (or mixed in) 3-4 eggwhites and a scoop of peanut butter; or greek yoghurt with a serving of fruit and some sesame and/or chia seeds. Or an eggwhite vegetable omelet with a slice of whole-wheat bread. The possibilities are endless once you set your mind to it!
Good snacks are: 1 tbsp of peanut butter with half an apple, greek yoghurt with a piece of fruit, a small can of pink salmon or tuna, 5-6 eggwhites (harboiled eggs of which you only eat the yolks, maybe one whole egg as well), a protein smoothie, low-fat cheese with some cucumber slices… Some hummus with carrot or celery sticks…
Keeping track of what you eat is the best way to know how many calories you consume and what your macronutrient intake looks like. If you’re serious about your goals and are motivated to get there, keeping track is the only way to keep you disciplined… It is true what they say: abs are made in the kitchen…
However, if you lack any kind of exercise and/or are not at all muscular in any way, there’s no way your body is a fat-burning machine. You need to change that by adding some fat-burning muscle to your frame, and speed up your metabolism with some smart training sessions. Does that mean you need to slave away in the gym, on the treadmill or the crosstrainer for hours? Not at all.
Fat-burning workouts are workouts that include exercises recruiting your whole body, so you work your whole body in a small amount of time. There are some examples of those in other articles on this site. You can do interval training, doing circuits of different bodyweight exercises, such as jump-rope or jumping jacks to get your heart rate up, squats and lunges to work your legs, push ups and supermans to strengthen your torso and core and some planks, mountain climbers, ab-roll outs and other exercises to specifically work your abs. Working out this way, will have you burn more calories in less time and will have you burn more calories (and if you’re in a caloric deficit through your diet, those calories will be fat!) long after you stopped working out. The key to look for here is: exhaustion. If you want to burn a lot of calories, you need to work out hard and smart! No need for an hour-long slow but joint-tiring jog or slaving on the cross trainer for 45 minutes in a ‘fat-burning’ heart rate zone. 20-30 minutes of intense smart training 3-4 times a week can be enough to create a fat-burning stimulus!
Don’t only track your progress to a flat-belly by stepping on the scale every day. That’s a recipe for disaster… The scale only tells one side of the story. It only shows you how much ‘weight’ you’ve lost, not how your body has intrinsically and internally changed in terms of muscle-building and fat-loss. Track your results and your progress by taking your picture in your favorite bathing suit and do the same after 3 weeks, try on those skinny jeans and see how they fit every week.
If you need more advice (sorry, no secrets here!), feel free to contact me so I can help you make your goals your reality!
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