With summer here, everyone wants to look their best at the beach. A big part of this is having a flat stomach. We all know that this requires good nutrition and hard exercise. However, here are 12 unexpected tips for a flat stomach that you may have overlooked.
1. Add time to your nutrition
When it comes to a flatter stomach, nothing is more effective than better nutrition. You have to devote time to things like shopping, chopping vegetables, meal planning, food logging, kitchen cleaning and cooking fat-loss friendly meals. If you truly don’t have time for these things, then take time away from your workouts.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
It is better do train 4 times a week for 45 minutes and consistently practice these nutrition habits than to train for an hour 6 times a week and not have time for these essentials.
2. Do less ab exercises
When it comes to fat loss, ab exercises are a waste of time. Unfortunately working the abs will not melt fat off them. Reducing body fat is your number one priority and to do this, you want the exercises that will burn the most calories during and after your training. 1-2 direct ab exercises per session are plenty.
3. Train your legs HARD!
Hard leg training will crank your metabolism into over-drive. Replace the crunch mats and the cardio machines with squat, deadlift and lunge variations.
4. Don’t sit or lie down when you train
Take all the exercises you would normally sit or lie down for and replace them with standing alternatives. You will burn more calories and boost your metabolism. Some examples:
Bench press → push-ups
Lat pulldowns → pull-ups (assisted if needed)
Seated shoulder press → standing shoulder press
Seated row → 1-arm dumbbell row
Lying leg curls → Romanian deadlift
Leg press → squats or lunges
Crunches → wood chops or Swiss ball rollouts
5. Do circuits or alternating sets
Once your have a workout full of hard exercises, do them in a circuit fashion (with short rests so you can still move decent weight) or alternate between upper and lower body movements. This will let you get more work done in less time (so you have more time for nutrition) and as a bonus, give you a great conditioning effect as well.
6. Learn to breathe
Most people are chest breathers. However, if you learn to breathe with your diaphragm you will help your body stay in parasympathetic mode. This will help to keep stress levels down, build and preserve fat-burning muscle, speed recovery and improve your posture.
Also, forced exhalation allows you to activate and strengthen the deep abdominal muscles that pull your guts in. A great trick to learn proper breathing I learned from Coach Mike Boyle is to practice blowing up a balloon without using your hands. This will force you to breathe in through you’re your nose and into your belly (thus using your diaphragm) and exhale using your deep abdominal muscles.
7. Practice lifting your chest
Standing with your chest up and your shoulders back and spread will instantly make you look slimmer and flatten out your abs.
8. Keep some glute tension when you stand
When you are moving, your glutes extend your hip. When you stand, they help tip your hips back to neutral. When you do this, you flatten out your lower abs.
9. Stretch your hip flexors – properly
Tight hip flexors will pull you into an anterior pelvic tilt and cause your lower abs to spill forward. Get down on one knee, tip your hips back and squeeze your glute on the down knee side. Then think tall.
10. Strengthen your glutes
Strong, well-developed glutes not only enhance your look below the waist, they also help to tip your hips back and flatten your lower abs. Squats (i.e. not half squats), deadlifts done to full hip extension and hip thrusts will all help strengthen your glutes and flatten your lower abs.
11. Avoid sitting
Sitting makes your hip flexors tight and your glutes weak and lazy. Both of these will put you into that anterior pelvic tilt and cause your lower abs to protrude. Also, by sitting less you will expend more calories each day. Even if your job requires you to be at a computer all day, at least prop your computer up so you can stand while you work.
12. Watch how you feel after a meal
Pay attention to how you feel after eating. If you find certain foods or combinations of foods make you feel gassy or bloated, you may want to avoid these – especially when you are on the beach this summer and wanting to avoid the bloated belly look.
Train hard, eat well, follow these tips and enjoy your flatter stomach!