A Lil About Me!

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ACE Certified Personal Trainer; NSCA Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist; CSEP Certified Personal Fitness & Lifestyle Advisor; MaddDogg Spinning Instructor; NCCP SwimCoach; NLSC Aquafit Instructor; Wellness & Weight-Loss Consultant.

Monday, 31 October 2011

All about ABS!


PSA :: This is not a BIBLE, or a "guaranteed" way to get abs...
There is no such thing as a guaranteed ab formula (*sorry), people's bodies are different, and therefore, things will work differently for all. These are, however, some of the myths & must-do's in order to get on your way to that smoldering six pack. It takes commitment and work!

Here are the FACTS
First :: Abs are made in the KITCHEN! The best way to ensure you're doing what it takes for those Summer-body, Modelicious midsections, is by making sure you're getting your daily required water intake (*half your body-weight in pounds, to be drank, in fluid ounces) AND by eating a Nutrient dense, Fiber & protein-rich, Clean diet! Lean proteins, healthy fats, Fibrous carbs, Colorful fruits & Veggies.

Second :: There is NO SUCH THING as "spot weight loss". So you can't "just lose weight around your midsection" anymore than you can "just lose" fat off your arms/legs/head...whereever!
To lose fat ALL-OVER, you MUST do CARDIO *shock, awe, gasp, terror* - that's the reality.
You want the RESULT? DO the WORK!

Third :: Abs are made in your Sleep!! I know what you're thinking... "Wait..WHAT? Didn't you say I have to WORK? And now you're telling me to SLEEP? Que Le fuu?" Let me explain!

The 3 most important hormones in fat loss or retention are Ghrelin, Cortisol & Human Growth Hormone (HgH). Without going into too much science, let me give you the short version.
Ghrelin is secreted when you stay up beyond 17hours in your daily cycle. It causes a resurgent "hunger" pang in order to provide your body with nutrients to stay up past its expected work-window. (*hence those midnight snack cravings) - Studies by the Am.Journal of Medicine show that we cosume 200-350 more calories on days that we get less than 7hours of sleep.
Cortisol is "the stress hormone". It is released by the body in response to outward stressors (one of these stressors being fatigue & under-rest) and is broken down & re-uptaken in sleep. If Cortisol is not broken down to be re-absorbed, it gets stored. Guess where.... Abdominal Fat.
HgH is responsible for Growth, in childhood/adolescence, and in adulthood helps with cellular healing & regrowth, nutrient processing & breakdown of fats into fuel in our sleep. Provided we reach 2nd stages of REM (*aka: get over 6.5 hours of sleep per night)

Let's quickly RE-CAP :: If I stay up late, I secrete a hormone which makes me eat more. And, not only that, but my body secretes a hormone to deal with the stress of this on my body and stores it in my belly fat... WHICH I have just padded with the extra food I'm eating... hmmmm, sounds very Un-Abs-etizing... BUT if I sleep I release a muscle & cell healing hormone which breaks down fats...
Now do you get the importance of SLEEP? GOOD!

One final note before I address some Myths - Want to look 5lbs slimmer instantly?
STAND UP STRAIGHT! Good posture, engaging the core and holding the chest up, tailbone neutral and chin draw back and supported by the neck and spine, put the abs to use, and also removes the slouch that often leads to a lower-belly poof.

Let's move onto a few ABS MYTHS
1) Doing "Abs" gives you Abs
- No, Sorry! Nope, Neeerp! FALSE!

People think that simply doing a "shit-ton" of abdominal exercises will give you "ABS". Sure, do enough crunches & resistance works & those abdominal muscles will be ripped & shapely... BUT, TRAPPED UNDER FAT. If you actually want to SEE your abs, you need to control your eating and burn calories! Just like other regions, Crunches help build fibers, in the abdominal muscles, but have little to no effect on the layer of fat covering them.

Remove the fat, and the muscles shine thru! Build the muscles UNDER the fat, and you'll end up looking "puffy" (*Trust ME!) >> Diet and cardio get rid of belly fat, not abdominal exercises.

2) Crunch is KING!
- again FALSE!
People neglect their core, as a COMPLETE structural region. Its not all about getting down on your back & cranking out crunches! In fact some of the best ab-killers, don't involve laying on your back at all!

Limiting your self to one angle of attack is just that, LIMITING!
Some of the BEST ab-workouts come from doing Larger muscle groups which require CORE STABILITY to be performed.

For example >
Pull Ups, Push Ups, Squats.

All of these movements are working other muscle groups but depend primarily on the core to stabilize the surrounding muscle groups in order to target the working group.

Plyometrics are another great example of using the abdominals, while not "doing abs". The core is responsible for body stability during position change, and in movement transition. It helps with balance & power during propulsion. Bonus - Plyos are an AWESOME way to burn calories!

If you insist upon a floor-based Core workout...

Instead of Crunches, Try THESE >
Bicycles, Russian Twists, Cross-body snaps, Planks.
(*not "planking" - As IF! please! Those are toats last season)

Planks are actually one of the (*if not THE) best exercises to tighten the midsection and requires no movement, and no laying down at all! Front plank and side planks, where the only thing touching the ground is your hands (or forearms) and feet. One of the greatest core-testing moves, erm.. non-moves, EVER! Holding a plank position for 30-60 seconds can seem like torture! Try it! You will feel your entire midsection tighten and WORK, including your low back, obliques and front abs.

3) Resistance is NECESSARY
Also, as I said before ABS ARE MUSCLES!! With any other muscle group, when you want those nice cuts, you pick up a weight, and external load or resistance and get pumping, why not with your abs?
Weighted core work is KEY to the well chisled midsection.

Some Awesome Weight Abdominal Movements >
Medicine ball drills/throws, cable cross pull machine work, or Kneeling cable crunches (*you crunch down, not up) or Situps while holding weight against your chest.

Basically :: More resistance, means more challenge. More challenge, means bigger cuts - got it?

One Caveat >
I typically limit load when training the obliques (the muscle group beneath the "love handles" running along the sides of your torso). Too much bending, with an added resistance, will cause those muscles to grow (duh) but instead of whittling, it will end up making your sides look THICK. Better bet - stick to twisting moves, or upper-weighted extension moves, with a lower resistance.

For example >
Saxon Bends, Mason Twists, Russion Twists

Choose a resistance that you can ACTUALLY SUPPORT. In order to gain from your abdominal work, you want to be sure that its the abdominals working. We want to avoid lower back strain, and pain, by ensuring that you are using the entire core, with a focus on the abs groups.

Engage your abdominal muscles, holding focus in the core by thinking about drawing your belly button up & in, toward your spine during any of the abs exercises, and during any weight-bearing activity. You will improve not only your core strength, but your stability in other lifts as well.

Take Home Message ::
Kitchen first (clean diet, more water); cardio; sleep; posture; abs' muscle work

I will try to post an Abs Cypher vid this week!!

Mia xo