Jump-start your fitness programme with an ab routine that’s guaranteed to work!
Many women come up in the gym and ask about “training secrets to success.” The big “secret” is that dedication to reaching a goal and self-sacrifice are the only ways to make improvements in the battle to build a better body.
With another new year coming closer comes the challenge of shedding the fat gained during the holiday season. This is when the self-sacrificing part of getting fit comes into play in turning your fantasies of a lean, hard and sexy stomach into reality.
The truth is that you will not be able to see your ab muscles unless you clean up your diet and do enough cardio to burn off the layers of blubber. I’m going to show you how to become jiggle-free in six weeks. If you follow this program to the letter for 12 weeks, you’ll enjoy the rewards of a six-pack that will turn heads in the gym and outside of it.
CLEAN UP YOUR DIET
Begin the makeover by cutting bread and pasta from your daily meal plan. In one week, you’ll notice a significant difference. Baked potatoes and brown rice are OK for the first two or three weeks, then limit carbs to a bowl of oatmeal at breakfast and two or three servings of a green vegetable or fresh fruit with your four or five small meals per day. Increase protein intake to offset the calories lost with reduced carbs, but favor leaner choices such as protein shake, chicken and fish.
Stick with this diet for the entire time you are following my ab circuit. All the crunches in the world won’t help if you have a layer of fat covering your stomach. That’s nothing more than common sense.
POWER UP THE CARDIO
Shoot for 40 to 60 minutes per session, every other day. Never train more than 60 minutes in any given cardio workout, as this leads to overtraining and fatigue. According to climate conditions, alternate outdoor cardio (running, hiking and blading) with machine cardio, such as the treadmill, stationary bike and stair climber, in the gym. If you live in a cold-weather climate, alternate indoor cardio options to keep things fresh and fun. Changing your workout around is healthy for your body and mind – the whole idea is to do everything possible to reduce the risk of burning out on this programme before it has worked its magic.
MY AB CIRCUIT
Nobody wants to spend more time on abs than is absolutely necessary. On the other hand, everyone wants to have killer abs to show off by wearing skintight pants that are cut very very low to reveal as much stomach as possible.
I have designed a circuit a circuit of crunches (upper abs), twisting crunches (upper abs and obliques) and lying leg raises (lower abs) to target the abs from every angle and to get the cutting-up-to-pieces job done quickly and efficiently.
Let’s get one thing straight from the start: you need to perform exercises that develop the rectus abdominis, the long muscle that originates at the pubis and inserts into the cartilage of the fifth, sixth and seventh ribs. Crunches hit the upper half of the rectus and leg raises to hit the lower half. Twisting crunches target both the upper rectus and the external obliques, the muscles on each side of the torso attached to the lower two-thirds of the rib cage and insert on the side of the pelvis.
The plan is to start with one complete ab circuit of three exercises of 15 to 20 reps per movement, with minimal or no rest between exercises. As you advance through the six-week training cycle, feel free to add a few reps to each set. After two weeks of becoming familiar with the programme and the nuances of the exercises, try to do the circuit a second time (I mean twice). After four weeks, you should be ready to take three trips around the three-part circuit (thrice). The precise way you modify the programme is a personal matter and will vary depending on your fitness level.
Lying leg raises*
Seated leg tucks+
* Perform as a circuit with no rest between sets.
+ Add as a finishing movement once body fat has been reduced to reveal the abs.
Here’s How It Works:
Do one set of crunches for the desired number of reps, exhaling during the contraction as you go for an extra squeeze. Then, without resting, do one set of twisting crunches – as you raise your rib cage toward your pubis, twist your torso so that your right elbow is directed toward your left knee, then lower and repeat on the other side (left elbow comes across toward right knee). Next is a variation of lying leg raises, which involves more hip flexion than typical leg raises and can be performed one of two ways: in the advanced version, bring your legs straight up in the air and don’t let your butt touch the floor; in the more moderate version, don’t push your butt all the way up, but pull your knees in close to your chest. Either way, you do them, go for a total burn for the final 10 reps to exhaust your lower abs.
At this stage of the workout, you will be very tired. At this point add two exercises. For toning, perform seated leg tucks for lower abs – bringing your knees into your chest while contracting the rectus abdominis – and twists with a bar for obliques – deliberately turn your upper body and shoulders as far in one direction as possible, hold and squeeze, then turn as far back in the other direction as possible.
These last two exercises are fine-tuning tricks to tighten the lower abs (seated leg tucks) and obliques (twists) once your body fat is low enough to reveal those sexy-looking muscles that have been hiding under layers of fat for so long. One or two sets of 10-20 reps per exercise at the end of the workout are more than enough to put the cherry on the top of the cake.