Summer is just around the corner and we all want to look our best for the beach. There are many new diets and exercises popping up this time of year and people are trying them all. It almost feels like a deadline to get a paper in on time for school. I have two simple principles you can add in addition to your workout to help you move things along.
The first is diet. It is clear we all know it is important to eat right. We fail this often though by trying to starve ourselves. This actually works against us. When we do this our bodies go into starvation mode. At first, things are good and the body attacks the fat stored and progress is seen. However, we all need to eat something eventually and when we do the body does something logical. It knows food has been scarce and is not sure when more will come, so it stores more fat than it usually would and burns the other stuff first.
Starving ourselves actually teaches our bodies to make us fatter. The key is to find a calorie number that works best for your goal and eat small meals often to meet that number. I use my Fitbit Force and iPhone app to keep me honest.
The second misconception is the 1000’s of crunches are needed for the six pack. What we do is usually work the exterior stomach muscles and ignore the inner (yes, there are two layers of muscle). If you notice, it is tough to meet a flat stomach goal when we do most programs. However, if you notice body builders have stomachs that actually suck in towards the spine. This is because when they are doing all that heavy breathing and grunting, they are working their diaphragms and inner muscles more than the average Joe.
It is an easy thing to compensate for without sacrificing your cool guy image of not grunting at the Smith machine. It is something all guys do when they see an attractive girl approaching: suck in the belly. Doing this actually helps strengthen the inner layer of muscle and will help flatten the stomach. This inner layer is the support structure for the abs and when it is weak everything is free to explore.
Now, doing this next exercise is not going to get you beach ready; however, it is something you can do while plugging away at the desk or where ever you spend your day. Exhale and put a little more force behind it that usual. Push as if you are trying to rid every bit of air from your body and then do not breathe in again. Flex your stomach muscles and try to suck them in as far as you can. Hold this for 10-15 seconds and then breathe normally again. Do this a few times an hour and you will actually feel a little burn.
It sounds ridiculous, but it helps build these inner abs.