Whether you do 8-minute abs, a 20-minute core workout or crunch for 24 hours of the day, (spoiler alert) it won’t give you a perfectly chiselled six-pack. Why? Because it’s not just exercise that’s responsible for abdominal definition.
“Before you embark on a mission to sculpt a flatter stomach, there are a few important things you need to understand. Your stomach is shaped by two major elements: muscle and fat. Think about making a bed. Your muscle is the sheet, the first layer on the bed and the fat is the blanket which overlays the sheet to complete the bed. Before you can see the shape of the sheet (muscle) you need to first take off the blanket (fat),” explains personal trainer, Stephanie Sanzo.
According to Sanzo, to achieve abs you must consider two major elements: exercise and diet. “Your diet plays the role of losing the fat which overlays the muscle on your stomach. Your training plays the role of burning calories and shaping the muscle surrounding your stomach.”
“The major problem I see people make when they embark on a mission to achieve a flatter stomach is not making any dietary improvements and performing too many muscle building movements of the abdominals. Examples of these types of movements include excessive crunches, leg raises etc. The problem with these movements is that if you’re only working on building muscle and not losing fat surrounding the muscle, your stomach may push out even further—the last thing we want to encourage!”
So, if you’re on the quest for a flat, toned tummy, Sanzo recommends starting by first cleaning up your diet and then introducing regular exercise that burns maximal calories to shed that winter doona. Below, she shares one of her favourite workouts to do just that.
“This program might seem somewhat ‘unconventional’ because I don’t recommend performing a heap of ‘traditional’ abdominal movements to avoid building muscle in your stomach. I have selected movements that have proven most effective to promote fat loss and indirectly target the abdominals for better shape.”
High-Intensity Calorie-Burning Workout For Visible Abs
Perform this in a circuit to keep the heart rate high and maximise time efficiency. Perform each exercise for 30 seconds and complete as many repetitions as you can. Move through each with no rest time until you complete all three movements. Rest 30 seconds after you complete all three exercises. This creates a two-minute High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) circuit using:
90 Seconds ON
30 Seconds OFF
Perform this circuit for 10-20 minutes
Complete this workout 2-3 times per week
SQUAT JUMP WITH HIGH KNEES
An explosive movement to rapidly increase heart rate and burn maximal calories. Core bracing is required during the squat and abdominal activation occurs from the knee lift (leg raises) during each jump.
Push your hips back and bend at the knees
Maintain a neutral spine with a slight forward lean of the torso
Quickly extend the hips and knees to an upright position
Use the momentum to jump/leap in the air
Lift your knees up towards your chest
A movement to burn calories and improve core stability. Abdominal activation occurs from the knee lifts and core stabilisation is required throughout the whole movement.
Lift one foot off the floor and raise knee up towards chest
Quickly alternate legs in the same fashion
Keep arms straight and core tight throughout the entire movement
Tip: Move fast, the goal is endurance.
ABDOMINAL SCISSOR KICKS
Also known as flutter kicks, these shape and develop better definition throughout the transverse abdominals (lower abs) and obliques (sides of your stomach). Core stabilisation is required throughout the whole movement and abdominals are activated during the crossing of each leg.
Lie flat on your back
Elevate both legs a few inches off the floor
Spread legs apart and then bring them together positioning one leg over the other leg
Alternate legs in this fashion
Keep both legs straight and off the floor throughout the entire movement