A toned tum and fab abs is the holy grail of so many, but do you find no matter how many sit-ups you do and diets you follow the sacred six-pack remains elusive?
It would seem you’re not doing the right things. Try our formula of five simple steps to get your tummy trim.
1. Banish bloating
It’s not the calories you consume but the source of the calories that may be a problem. If your diet is rich in carbonated drinks, beans and pulses, fruits juices, bread, pasta and even onions the chances are you’re going to bloat.
Others may have mild intolerances to dairy which result in a muffin effect where you want to look like an hourglass.
So revise your diet, drink more water, trade wheat for oats, pasta for quinoa and reduce your fruit and veg intake if it’s too high.
2. Optimise your posture
Saggy stomachs can also result from poor posture and this is easily addressed simply by breathing in deep, lifting the chest and dropping the shoulders back and down. Brace your belly a little to hold that position and you’ll feel and look 100 times better.
For more long-term effects, introduce Pilates and Yoga to your routine to keep the spine supple and the muscles that support it strong.
Also, check your footwear. High heels thrust the pelvis out of alignment, sending a ripple effect up the spine which keeps you upright but promotes bad posture in time. Flip flops are great for freeing the feet and returning to a more natural alignment so if you get the chance to wear them at home or in the office do so.
3. Don’t sit when you can stand
Remaining seated for long periods does nothing for the core except make fab abs more elusive. If you’ve got a desk job stand at least every hour. Those who use the phone at work find standing to make a call makes them more assertive and productive, so your body and your bank balance can benefit here.
Informal meetings with work colleagues can incorporate a good power walk too – the movement may also fuel the mind to some great ideas and solutions.
If you can trade driving for walking on short journeys, then do so. A weekly walk to the shops, carrying your goods home in your bags for life can mean you won’t have abdominal sags for life.
And when you’re at home watching TV, peel your potato body off the couch between programmes to stand and stretch.
4. Think front and back and sides!
Tummy-toning exercises are only one chapter in the story, and most people make the mistake of exercising their abs and neglecting their backs. This breeds an imbalance in the body as far as strength, flexibility and posture are concerned. So spend as much time on your back as you do on your tum.
There are some great and simple fab abs exercises including kettlebell swings, deadlifts with a medicine ball, clean and press with a barbell and upright rows with a resistance band which can all help keep the back strong, supple and stable.
And don’t forget the obliques either, these muscles that enable you to rotate your torso will trim your waist when toned and help you get that definition you desire. Woodchoppers with a kettlebell are great functional moves that get the sides of the torso mobilised and muscular, as are lunges with a dumbbell held above the head in the hand on the same side as your back leg.
5. Exercise your tummy
We’ve saved the most obvious until last. And the good news is that there are a wealth of effective exercises that will trim your tum all the more when you take all the above steps.
Start with a mat and do some simple sit-ups and planks, then progress to using medicine balls for Russian twists and Swiss balls for fuller ranges of motion in your sit-ups. Sign up for a plank challenge on social media and discipline yourself to build on your plank every day.
Within one month you’ll feel a difference, and within three everyone else will see a difference and they’ll be asking you what your secret for fab abs is.