Every woman wants a flat tummy and a tight butt. That is why as consumers we are bombarded with infomercials selling new abdominal and glute machines. Let’s face it— those are two worst problem areas for most women, and women in this country spend billions of dollars on the equipment they see in these commercials, yet no one is getting the results they want. And why is no one getting the results they want? Because the information they have is mostly wrong and/or inconclusive. There is a lot more to getting a flat stomach and a tighter backside than simply buying an abdominal or glute machine.
When it comes to getting a nice set of firm abs and a tight butt, many women do not realize that it does not matter how many crunches or squats you do— it’s all about fat loss! If you have a layer of fat covering your abs, and excess fat below your bottom, you will never have a firm six-pack or a butt you can bounce a quarter on. Therefore, if you want to get a flat tummy with tight glutes you need to start losing fat. This does not mean you should stop training these areas in the gym; it simply means you need to focus equal attention on the amount of aerobic exercise you perform and your caloric intake.
Exercise physiologists at Duke University found that aerobic exercise surpasses resistance training for decreasing abdominal fat. Abdominal fat is also known as visceral fat. It is the most dangerous type of fat on the body because it poses the greatest cardiovascular health risks. Visceral fat is not the fat that lies directly beneath your skin (subcutaneous), rather it is located deep within the abdominal cavity and surrounds the internal organs. It is important to have some visceral fat to protect internal organs; however, too much can produce an increased risk for heart disease, diabetes and cancer. So where you store your fat may be more important than the total amount of body fat on a person. Women tend to store their fat in the thighs, hips and buttocks and this is mostly correlated to estrogen levels; however, many women have high levels of abdominal fat as well. Abdominal fat tends to be associated more with insulin resistance than high levels of estrogen.
Although fat cells in men and women are generally the same, they do differ greatly when it comes to the size and function of the fat cells. Women possess larger fat cells that are capable of holding a greater amount of fat than men. This has to do with the enzymatic breakdown in women. Women have a greater amount of lipogenic (fat storing) enzymes and fewer lipolytic (fat releasing) enzymes. This is to ensure that women carry enough fat cells to nurture during childbearing.
Another reason for tenacious fat cells in women are estrogenic composites. A special form of estrogenic fat is the iliac (hip) fat layer, which normally occurs below the iliac crest in females of childbearing age (otherwise known as the muffin top). Estrogenic fat cells contain a wider variety of fatty acids than most adipose tissues. Many foods contain estrogenic that mimic estrogen function and aid in binding estrogenic fat receptors. This can produce an aromatase (enzyme that converts androgens to estrogen compounds) influence. This may enhance the production of estrogen and cause fat gain. Estrogen levels can be affected by diet and lifestyle. It has been proposed that a diet heavy in artificial ingredients, refined sugar and flour can result in high estrogen levels. Over a long period of time this type of diet is also likely to cause other health problems such as obesity, cardio-vascular disease, digestive problems
and insulin resistance. Such health issues can slow down the flow of hormone production in the body and boost estrogen production.
An inflow of estrogen in the body from certain food sources can cause fat cells to grow and become difficult to get rid of. It is important to consume foods that are anti-estrogenic in your daily caloric consumption. Anti-estrogenic foods that should be consumed are: cruciferous vegetables, passion flower, citrus fruits, omega-3 oils, wild catch salmon, organic dairy products, raw nuts and seeds, avocados, olive oils, wheat germ oil, green vegetables, whole oats and barley, legumes, spices (turmeric, oregano, thyme, rosemary and sage) and herbs (dandelion root, ginger, alma and milk thistle).
Breakfast: 1 grapefruit and 4-6 egg whites
8 oz cup of coffee or tea
1 dose of fish oil (usually 450-500 milligrams per day of combined EPA/DHA)
Mid-Morning Snack: 6-8 ounces of Greek yogurt with ½ cup blueberries or strawberries
6 ounces salmon, tuna or white fish
¼ cup unsalted nuts (almonds, soy or cashews)
Mid-Afternoon Snack: Whey protein shake with 8 ounces of water or skim milk
1 small apple
Dinner: 6-8 ounces chicken or fish
1 cup broccoli, Brussels sprouts or kale
¼ cup black beans
In addition to eating the proper anti-estrogenic foods to decrease fat in your midsection, thighs and buttocks, you need to incorporate an exercise program that consists of specific cardio drills to target those particular areas for fat loss. My suggestion would be to combine cardio exercises, such as running or sprinting, with plyometric exercises to increase your intensity and place more emphasis on your glutes. Plyometrics are movements that involve shortening and lengthening of muscles at a rapid rate. They consist of explosive movements such as jumping, bounding and hopping. They can be weighted or non-weighted exercises using dumbbells of medicine balls.
Examples of aerobic programs that combine these movements would be:
- Jogging for 5 minutes then running a 40-yard sprint and performing a set of pop squats
- Treadmill walking or running with jump lunges off of the treadmill
- Stationary cycling for 5 minutes, jumping jacks, 5 burbees
- Bootcamp style class that combines several of these explosive movements into a single exercise session
The duration of any aerobic workout should be consistent with a person’s fitness level and tolerance. The American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) recommendation for weight loss is 30-60 minutes of continuous aerobic exercise, at least 5 days a week.
EXERCISES FOR ABS AND BUTT
In addition to plyometric exercises, here are my top 5 favorite exercises to tighten and tone the glutes:
1) Sliding Lunges: You can do this exercise using a paper plate or a gliding disc. Stand with feet hip-width apart, place the ball of your left foot resting on the paper plate or gliding disc. Bend the right leg while sliding the left foot backwards into a lunge position. Keep the front knee behind the toe and keep the back leg slightly bent. Slowly slide your left foot back to start, pushing into the plate and repeat for 10-20 repetitions before switching sides. Keep the weight in the front leg so you always have control of the foot resting on the plate.
2) One-Legged Squats: This is an advanced move, but you can modify by doing the move without placing your foot on a ball or bench. Place the left foot/shin on a ball or bench and hold a dumbbell in your right hand. Bend the right knee into a squat until it is bent to about 90 degrees. Straighten the leg back to the starting position. Repeat for 10-20 repetitions before switching sides.
3) Step-Ups: Place one foot on a step or platform and push through the heel to lift the body up. You must use a step that’s high enough to really focus on the glutes, although you may need to work up to a higher step if you’re a beginner. You eventually want a height where your knee is at about a 90-degree angle. Place the emphasis of your weight on the stepping leg. Repeat for 10-20 repetitions before switching sides.
4) Cross Over Step-Ups: Stand with your left side facing a step, bench or platform. Hold a dumbbell in each hand for added intensity. Lift the right leg and cross it over the left, placing the foot flat on the step or platform. Keep your hips square as you press up with the right leg, bringing the left foot beside the right on the bench. Step back down with the left foot and repeat for 10-20 repetitions before switching sides.
5) One-Legged Deadlift with Balance: This exercise combines strength and yoga movements, and it is great for your hamstrings, glutes and lower back (as well as your balance). Take your time with this move because you may find that one side is less steady than the other. Stand on the left leg with the right foot slightly back, resting on the toe. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and bend forward from the hips, keeping the back straight and the abs tight, bring the weight towards the floor until you reach a flat back position. While you are lowering yourself forward, lift the right leg up as you lower the weight, taking the leg up to hip level. Squeeze the glutes of the left leg to pull back up and repeat for 10-20 repetitions before switching sides. Keep the move slow and controlled and concentrate on keeping your balance at the same time you keep the core braced.
My top 5 favorite exercises to tighten the abdominals are as follows:
- 1) Stability Ball Roll-Outs:
- 2) Double Leg Stretch:
- 3) Flutter Kicks:
- 4) Exercise Ball Roll–Ins:
- 5) Exercise Ball Stiff Legged V Bends: