If you are over 40, at some point or another, you may have had the awesome post-baby, middle age kangaroo pouch! (I know I did!) While lipo or a tummy tuck seems like a great solution, I say, NO WAY! I am a 43-year old mother of two with a six-pack. Want to know how I got mine? Some good ole fashioned healthy eating, intense ab workouts and defying all the myths associated with getting a flat tummy!
MYTH BUSTER #1: CRAZY CRUNCHES
Tons of crunches don’t lead to tight, sculpted abs. The truth is that everyone has abdominal muscles, they just stay hidden underneath a thick layer of fat on the stomach. If you want a toned look, you need to focus on burning the layer of fat that may be covering your belly. The key is to train your abs sufficiently a few times a week while focusing on burning fat by following a good diet and performing total body strength and conditioning work.
MYTH BUSTER #2: STARVIN MARVIN
In attempt to burn fat, you may be tempted to follow one of those crazy low calorie diets to do so. Don’t do it! Your body needs fuel. No food means no fuel. No fuel means NO MUSCLES! You may reduce your caloric intake in order to burn more body fat SAFELY, but never starve yourself with a very low calorie diet (less than 1200 calories a day). These types of diets generally do not provide you with the necessary nutrients that your body needs to survive and carry out normal functions. They can also impact on your energy levels and leave you too tired to carry out normal daily activities—let alone working out trying to get that flat tummy! Here are some great nutrition tips to follow to tighten up your midsection:
MYTH BUSTER #3: DUPED BY DIET PILLS
Many diet pills promise a flat stomach in a short time; however, no supplement will magically transform your midsection. Some supplements like Omega 3 fatty acids can help, but they won’t do a thing if you aren’t following a quality diet and working out regularly.
The bottom line is this: Good Nutrition + Consistent Exercise + Proper Core Training = Toned, Tight, Flat Tummy!
TONED, TIGHT TUMMY TRAINING
Here are a few of my favorite exercises for the core. I work abs a minimum of 3 times per week. I generally perform 3 sets of 20-25 reps per abdominal exercise. I tend to choose about 3 different exercises that hit the tummy from top to bottom and also add in some planks, which target the back as well as the core!
90 DEGREE WEIGHTED CRUNCHES
First of all, always keep your back firm to the mat. Bring the legs up to a 90-degree angle, knees in line with the hips and the ankles slightly lower then the knees. Place the dumbbell close to your forehead and keep those elbows tucked in. Using your abdominals—not your neck—curl the upper body up, lifting the shoulder blades off the ground and then lower back down. It’s a very small movement but very effective when done for 3 sets of 25 reps.
With your knees bent and upper body leaning back at an angle, this exercise hits the front and sides (obliques) of your abs. Holding a dumbbells and keeping your elbows tucked in tightly and core stabilized, you are going to twist from side to side. Now don’t be cheating and just use the arms—really twist the torso and squeeze. Complete 3 sets of 20. More advanced? Lift your feet off the ground. OUCH!
There are so many variations to the plank. The plank is a great core strengthening exercise all the way around, from your back to your tummy. It’s very important to watch your form with this exercise. Keep your body in one straight line, elbows under your shoulders and hands open and flat to the floor. Make sure your butt is not popping up in the air, or I will find you and smack it back down. Keep it in line with your back, but don’t allow your hips or belly to dip towards the floor either. Start with 3 sets of 30-second holds, and increase by 10 – 20 seconds every week. Once you get stronger, you can then work on the side plank pictured below.
IMPORTANT TO THE CORE
Remember as we age and become less active, core strength is often one of the first things to suffer. Poor core strength can lead to a domino effect of other physical aches and pains due to poor body mechanics and poor alignment. Sore backs, hips, knees and necks can often be traced back to poor core strength. The core muscles include more than just the abs, so it’s important to consistently perform a balanced core strength workout. Do the quick core workout (above) 3-4 times each week to maintain your core strength and stability.
Other great ways to maintain your core muscles are to perform simple body weight exercises that force the core to contract as you stabilize your body. A strong core is central to a strong body…PERIOD!