- Exercise & Fitness
The Truth About Abs: How to Get A Ripped Midsection
Replace your popular ab-sculpting techniques with methods that actually work
I hear abs talked about more than any other muscle group. Everyone wants abs, and because of this, there are more rumors about: 1- building abdominal muscle and 2- burning abdominal fat than there are stars in the sky. First let’s quickly debunk some midsection myths and then we’ll talk about chasing down those ripped abdominals!
Midsection Myth # 1- I can burn fat off my midsection by doing abdominal exercises like sit-ups and crunches. This is the result of a theory called spot reduction. Spot reduction is the concept of isolating body fat. Let me get real clear here. You cannot isolate body fat! When we perform an exercise (like sit-ups or crunches), the tissue that we isolate is muscle, not fat. Movement recruits muscle, simple as that. The only way to isolate fat tissue is with some type of blade or suction instrument. Fat is the result of a metabolic imbalance where the body is consuming more energy than it can utilize, and metabolism is performed by every living cell in the body. The resulting left-over energy is stored as fat. The placement of this stored fat is largely left up to genetics. As a matter of fact, females typically store fat in their hips and thighs. This is called gynoid obesity when it reaches tremendous levels of fat deposits. Men typically store fat over their belly and chest, which is referred to as android obesity once it reaches large scale fat deposits. But think about it; have you ever known someone who lost an outstanding amount of weight? If you have, then you probably recall that not only did their body change, but their face did, too. How do you think they burned fat off of their face? Jaw extensions? Tongue curls? Chin squats? No, I joke obviously! I’ll tell you what happened. If they’re like most people who have lost weight, they increased their metabolic rate by exercising in some fashion and decreased their caloric intake by watching their diet. The fat on their face was depleted due to the elevated metabolic rate, which affects all fat deposits in the body since metabolism is a systemic function. So there you have it. No more doing abdominal exercises to burn belly fat.
Midsection Myth # 2- The more sit-ups and crunches I can do, the more abdominal muscle I will build. If you know anything about building muscle, then you’re familiar with the term plateau. Plateau means you reach a certain point and you’re no longer making any progress. Here’s why: when you work out, your body must adapt to the change. Once your body adapts and can perform the workout and exercises efficiently, it stops changing. Your muscles have accommodated for the altered environment and have no need to grow stronger or bigger than they are now. Keep reading and you’ll learn how to avoid this discouraging road block.
So, how do I burn fat off my stomach? Easy. Well the concept is anyway. It’s all about getting and keeping that metabolism elevated. Cardio gets your metabolic rate up for a little while, but then it plummets not long after hopping off the treadmill. Resistance training will burn way more calories and keep that metabolism up around the clock. They key is doing the right exercises correctly. Squats and lunges are second to none when it comes to triggering metabolic influxes. These exercises target your biggest muscle groups and get your body screaming for energy. Intense, full-body workouts are best, and can provide some amazing results if performed three to four times a week (every other day) and supplemented with an appropriate eating plan.
Okay, how do I build abdominal muscle? Remember how limited variety leads to a frustrating plateau? Well, to illicit further muscle growth, you must change things up. Add more weight to your shoulder press, switch from bench press to dumbbell press for a couple weeks, do some hammer curls instead of barbell curls. Ultimately, you must learn to plan your workouts weeks ahead of time so that you can accommodate for muscle growth and schedule just exactly how and when your workout will change to do so. Here’s the good news that almost everybody overlooks: abs are no different! You must change things up. If you can do fifty crunches one month and sixty the next month, then you are only testing your abs’ ability for number of reps. What about resistance? One of the best ways you can build abdominal muscle is to find ways to vary the amount of resistance. Using weight plates can help, although I’ve found that securing a resistance band behind me and holding the handles steady by my head while performing sit-ups or crunches works best due to the constant resistance that bands provide. Another method of changing things up abs-wise is doing leg raises while lying flat on your back with a small weight between your feet. Anything that allows you to alter the amount of resistance while maintaining proper form will help you build muscle. Hold a twenty-five pound plate and then see how many sit-ups you can do. Probably not sixty, huh? Increasing the resistance will throw your muscles a curve ball that requires change in muscle size and strength.
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