With summer now officially here, many people are turning their attention to their midsection in the hopes of having washboard abs in time for warm weather. Waterparks, pools, beaches, and running outside tend to make people think a little bit more about the excess fat that seems to have creeped up on them throughout the winter months.
If washboard abs came easy, everyone would have them. Like many things however, a little bit of knowledge can go a long way. In this article I’ll be pointing out some key points to help ensure you have washboard abs this summer.
Bodyfat Is The Key
Usually I save the best for last, but I decided to do things a little bit different in this article. In my opinion, there is no single factor more important to having washboard abs than having a low bodyfat level. You can have the best abdominal development in the world, but if you have a bodyfat level of 30% nobody is ever going to notice. We’ve all seen the commercials with models sporting washboard abs after using the newest and greatest abdominal device for X number of weeks. What many of these products fail to emphasis or even mention is how important it is to get a lower bodyfat level to actually see the abs. Various products may be great at building up the abdominal muscles, but those models likely didn’t get there solely by using an abdominal product.
In order for a person to have visible abs, bodyfat levels have got to be lowered. To put it in plain terms, most men are not going to have washboard abs until their bodyfat levels are below 10%. As women often store more fat in their legs, their abdominals often become visible at slightly higher levels. Typically, as bodyfat levels begin to go down, a person will begin to see the upper part of the abs, then the mid area, and as bodyfat levels become very low, the lowest part of the abdominal section becomes well defined. Lower your bodyfat and watch your abs start to appear.
Keep Up The Cardio
Cardiovascular activity or aerobic activity pulls on fat reserves in large part for energy. That means if you are trying to accomplish the task of keeping or getting your bodyfat level low enough, you are going to have to do cardio. When I work with clients regarding their cardio, I often encourage them not to look at the amount of time they spend on a machine, but rather to look at the amount of calories burned. This is often a great motivational tool for people who are strapped for time because it encourages them to work harder faster and therefore get the work done sooner. For example, if a person knows that he or she needs to burn 500 calories for the day doing cardio, they may up their intensity level and therefore get their cardio done in perhaps 45 minutes as opposed to 60 minutes. Not only does the person burn the calories needed, but it allots 15 more minutes to the day. Think about focusing more on energy expended per unit of time, rather than simply time.
Work The Abs
When it comes to the pursuit of washboard abs, it is helpful to think in terms of areas or sections of the abs. You can look at it in terms of upper abs, lower abs, and obliques. Some people further break down the abdominal area into upper, middle, lower, and obliques as a means to visualize which area they are trying to work. Abdominal exercises tend to have a focus on one or two of these areas at a time, with a few abdominal exercises hitting all areas during the exercise. Crunches and movements of that nature tend to target the upper portion of the abs more. Leg raises and movements involving the raising or movement of the legs tend to require more the use of the lower abs. Twisting and sideways bending movements tend to work the obliques. Of course if you are looking to improve your overall abdominal appearance, working all of the major areas through various abdominal exercises is appropriate.
A Word On Spot Training
Spot training is a term used to describe a common belief that working a particular area will decrease bodyfat in that specific location. A common belief is that by doing extended bouts of abdominal exercises, one will decrease fat around the waist. This is a myth and put bluntly it does not work. Unfortunately, many advertisers perpetuate this myth by showing before and after photos of people who were once overweight or obese, who after using the product in question now have a much trimmer waist. Fat loss is brought about primarily through sound diet and cardio. Remember, an abdominal product may strengthen the abdominal area, but lower bodyfat is required to actually see those washboard abs.
Words Of Encouragement, Words Against Discouragement
Today we are bombarded with advertisements that claim to be the average persons means to washboard abs. In addition to advertisements we often see various models on magazine covers that seem to have the perfect set of washboard abs. It’s important for the average person to not compare him or herself to these people because in actuality what they are looking at is often not real. With photograph altering software and performance enhancing drugs often used in the industry, it is not difficult to make a person look like something out of comic book.
When it comes to your own goals and aspirations, a good idea is to stick to comparing yourself to yourself. In other words, if you know where you were and you know that you have improved your situation since then, then you have succeeded. Good ways to monitor your progress are by taking measurements, having pictures taken, watching your body mass index, weighing yourself, watching how your clothing fits, and having your bodyfat levels monitored by someone who is qualified to do so. Monitoring bodyfat and utilizing measurements are generally superior over the weight scale and body mass index as the latter methods do not accurately account for changes in muscle mass.
Attaining washboard abs requires a combination of sound diet, cardiovascular activity, and abdominal work. Spot training, or doing specific resistance training in the hopes of losing fat in that one area does not work. Avoid comparing yourself to people on or in magazines, as this is often unrealistic and frustrating. Following these principles will help guide you on your way to washboard abs. Have a great summer!