Training for Abs.
The most frequently asked question I receive from a new acquaintance who learns I am a personal trainer is how to lose their stubborn belly fat and whether sit-ups or one of those abdominal gadgets pitched on an infomercial would help.
Most are shocked by my response.
There are four things you must do to start burning that stubborn belly fat.
1. Eat clean. Clients who stop eating processed foods and eliminate wheat, corn, soy and processed sugars from their diet have the most success in losing fat - on their belly and from the rest of their body.
A little background on the function of the abdominals may be helpful. There are six muscles that make up your abdominals: rectus abdominus, transverse abdominus, external obliques (one on each side) and the internal obliques (one on each side). This muscle group provides:
- Rotation: Abdominal muscles rotate the trunk and allow rotation of shoulders and arms;
Following are a few of the exercises I like to include in workouts to build abdominal strength and stability using functional movements.
- Upright exercises include hanging leg raises (advanced level only), medicine ball slams, chops, inchworms, swiss ball roll-outs and burpees.
- Prone exercises include planks (many varieties), bird dogs, climbers (mountain, cross-body mountain and spiderman), pushups (many varieties depending on fitness level), bear crawls and swiss ball knee-ins.
Each of the above exercises are more effective at building muscle and burning fat than the classic sit-up. Sit-ups are a small movement that offers very little stress for the abdominal muscles so this burns little in the way of fat. And, sit-ups, which are forward flexion movements (that neither stabilize, rotate or decelerate) are hard on the disc's of your lumbar spine (and your neck if you tend to compensate by pulling on your head).
While spot reduction does not work, spot building does. These exercises require total body effort so they burn lots of calories while working your abdominals the way they are intended to work.