With the summer now here, many of those booking their tickets abroad are also looking to hit the gym in search of a toned beach body.
Little do many of us know, but the age old advice of dieting and endless cardio sessions could actually harm our bodies in the long term.
A quick fix never lasts and while you may have the taught mid-section you crave by July, it will quickly melt away if you enforce strict calorie counting and eat away at your muscle tissue, pushing your body to the edge.
Long cardio sessions have the same negative impact; they break down muscle tissue for energy. So you’re not building a lean, strong metabolic powerhouse for the future. This will cause you trouble next summer, by which time your muscles will have been degraded.
So, here are some less conventional healthy tips on how to flatten your abs for the summer, or to be more accurate, for good!
Flatten your abs with 0 crunches
Many people suffer from dysfunctional core muscles, which means these muscles are working slightly or not at all.
The core muscles have been further harmed by today’s culture of extended periods of sitting down, leaving our upper abdominal muscles tight and overactive and our lower abdominal muscles elongated.
To flatten then belly, you should focus on you lower abdominals and a great way to do so is “the plank.”
Step 1: Lie down on your front on the floor, place your elbows in line with your shoulders, bent at 90 degrees.
Step 2: Keep your knees wider apart than a hip's length.
Step 3: Tuck your pelvis under, draw your navel in and breathe into your into your rib cage.
Step 4: Rest your elbows on the ground as you lift your upped body, so your upper body is resting on your elbows which are bent at 90 degrees.
Step 5: Keep your hips slightly above your shoulders while holding your plank.
It is good to use a mirror to view yourself from the side to check your hips are in the correct place.
You must not hunch your back in this exercise, keep it as straight as possible.
Step 6: Keep your shoulder blades retracted and keep your navel pulled in.
There is no set time limit for this exercise, simply rest and repeat when your back dips in and you can no longer hold the plank.
A good trick for beginners is to squeeze your bottom muscles to ensure that your Glutes and core work together. You can even do the exercise with your knees on the floor in you are a beginner – but keep your back poker straight.
The power of posture
Having good posture is not only physically attractive but also helps to pull your lower abdominals in, naturally giving you a flatter look. Food can also flow through your digestive system easier, helping to reduce bloating.
The standing bridge exercise is key to good posture.
You will need a mirror to view yourself from the side, as pelvic position is crucial.
Step 1: Stand with your feet pointing straight, a hip’s width apart.
Step 2: Lean forward slightly with your upper body.
Step 3: Now place your hand on your pelvis (hips) so you can get an idea of where they should sit, and then shift them back behind your shoulders.
Step 4: Then postieorally tilt your pelvis under but be sure to do this while your hips are still shifted back.
Step 5: Be sure to also draw in your navel in simultaneously as you inniate the posterior pelvic tilt.
If you have instituted this move correctly from a side view you will notice none or very minimal flatness appearing in your lower back.
Step 6: Now squeeze your glutes (bottom) muscles
Step 7: You will feel a burning sensation in the glutes and lower abs. Hold this position for as long as you can keep the correct form throughout
Relax for a few minutes and repeat.
Relax, breath and slow down
In today’s world, many of us are constantly in a stressful state.
Stress simulates the catabolic “fight” or “flight” response in the sympathetic branch of your autonomic nervous system.
When the body is stressed it simulates stress hormones to rise such as cortisol, this spikes your insulin levels.
Increased insulin is stored as fat around the middle, so even if you are in the gym training hard or on the best diet, as long as you are stressed, your body will not respond well.
Being around nature, water or the beach is the perfect place to balance you out and allow for calmness. Relax by treating yourself to a massage once a week. Breath more by doing some yoga classes, learn to slow down, take time out at lunch time to eat your food slowly outside with nature. All these simple tips will help not only improve sleep, stress and anxiety but the most controversial part is that this can help promote flatter, healthy abs.