A tight midsection is a universal sign of good conditioning. A small waist sets off your proportions to help you achieve that hourglass look. A lean middle is a key to good health and longevity, as abdominal visceral fat can lead to serious health concerns and insulin resistance1. All are great reasons to want a small and tight waist, so let’s get to it! Here are my “secrets” to making it happen:
Keep it clean. While we’ve all heard it before, I can’t skip this critical point: abs are made in the kitchen. So, stick with clean, whole food sources like lean proteins, complex carbs, healthy fats (especially those rich in omega-3s), fresh fruit and LOTS of green veggies to achieve a lean body and tight midsection.
Think “small & tight.” When training abs, think about your waist getting smaller with every rep. Focus on pulling your belly button into your spine and exhaling as you contract the muscle. Be deliberate in your movement. Tight form = tight tummy. Here is a sample ab circuit that I regularly perform:
Complete three sets of the following:
- 50 x crunches holding a 15-lb dumbbell
- 30 x double reverse crunches
- 20 x leg raises on bench, touching toes to ground with each rep
- 30 x crunches with legs straight in the air
- 50 x butt-ups
- 20 x slow, controlled full sit-ups (5 seconds up, 5 seconds down)
Train abs all day. In addition to doing approximately 5-10 minutes of focused abdominal work 3 times per week, stay focused on keeping your stomach pulled in and tight throughout the day while driving, working, training other body parts, etc.
Turn up the heat on your cardio. Blast more body fat by increasing the intensity of your cardio. Try incorporating 10, one-minute sprint intervals into your current cardio routine. Recover 1-2 minutes between each interval.
Keep your gut in check. Supplement with probiotics to support your digestive system and keep that belly looking flat and tight. Probiotics replace the good bacteria in your gut that is depleted by antibiotic use, stress, hormones, aging and infections, to name a few. Probiotics are available as a supplement and in food sources, like Gaspari Nutrition’s Myofusion Probiotic Series Protein Powder.
Digest more. If your body doesn’t effectively digest the food you are eating, you can feel and look bloated. Make sure to chew your food completely and try supplementing with digestive enzymes when you are eating something that is hard to digest and/or causes you to bloat (e.g., a very high-protein meal).
Incorporate apple cider vinegar (ACV). Not only does ACV help with digestion, it also can assist with fat loss. In the April 2012 issue of FitnessRx for Women, Dr. Tracey Greenwood discusses how the acetic acid in vinegar may inhibit fat formation to a degree. Also, ACV has high levels of potassium, which is considered a fat-flushing agent, is known to increase metabolic rate— which leads to an increase in calories burned— and minimizes water retention. Try drinking a tonic of two tablespoons of ACV, 16 ounces of water and flavored stevia drops a few times a day before a meal.
Avoid carbonated beverages, sugar alcohols and excessive gum chewing. All of these are flat stomach foes, as each can cause significant bloating.
Swear off sweets. Consuming refined sugar found in baked goods, processed foods, candies, etc. keeps those abs covered with a layer of fat, as an influx of sugar spikes insulin, inhibiting fat burning and initiating that endless sugar craving roller coaster.
Drink lots of water. Drink 3-5 liters of water each day to support your metabolism and digestion. Also, when you’re properly hydrated, you’ll retain less water, revealing a flatter and more defined midsection.
A Winning Thought
No matter how diligent we are with our nutrition and training, we all can’t achieve a 22-inch waist. That is OK. We must always remember that the focus of our fitness journey should be to strive for our own personal best without concerning ourselves with how we measure up to others. The more time and energy you spend on comparisons, the less you have to invest into your own personal masterpiece. So, do (and enjoy) the work you need to do to get a little bit better each day. Before you know it, you can look back proudly on weeks of efforts and be in awe of all that you accomplished. Let’s go Be YOUR BEST!