If you follow the diet outlined in chapter 7, then you should find that you start to lose weight from all over your body and that this eventually reaches the gut.
But here’s the unwanted surprise: you won’t instantly get the amazing stomach you always wanted. Apart from anything else, there’s probably still flabby skin here and perhaps even stretch marks!
That’s because the real magic happens in the gym. Not only is muscle metabolically active, meaning that you’ll burn more calories even when you’re sleeping once you’re strong; but it is also what makes a person look toned and honed – far more than low body fat can. If you have low body fat alone, then you will look skinny and malnourished. If you have low body fat and great muscles, then you’ll look like celebrity.
The problem is that many people don’t know how to go about training their bodies for the maximum aesthetic benefit. So let’s see what you need to know…
Let’s start by focussing on the part that everyone is interested in: the abs. How do you take your now fat-less belly and turn it into something that Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie would be proud of?
It starts with anatomy. Too many people will want to focus purely on the sheet of muscle on the front of the stomach that is divided into six parts. This is the rectus abdominus but it is only one piece of the puzzle.
What’s actually more important for many ways for people looking to get rid of belly fat is the transverse abdominus. This is the band of muscle that wraps around the stomach and lower spine and works to support the back and act like a girdle.
The good news is that if you train this part of the stomach, then it will work to actually hold in the gut. Now, even if you haven’t managed to get rid of all of the excess flab around your belly, it will look instantly less noticeable.
So how do you train the transverse abdominus? It comes down to anything that involved holding your body like a plank (so plank is a good one then!) or breathing in and brining your belly button up to your spine.
This is the idea behind stomach vacuums or what is sometimes lovingly referred to as the ‘cat puke exercise’. Essentially, you need to get on all fours and then practice pulling your belly in toward your spine. Hold for ten seconds, rinse and repeat.
Another important part of your mid section are the obliques. These are muscles on either side of the abs which run and point downward in toward the center. Getting a great set of obliques is a surefire way to add a lot more detail around the area that results in a much more ripped final impression.
To train the obliques, you simply need to perform sit-ups with some kind of twist on the end. That might mean literally twisting backward and forward, or it might be punching a bag.
All this is not to say that the rectus abominis isn’t important too. It is and this is what will give you the vaunted six pack look afterall. To train this sheet of muscle, it’s useful to first have a good idea of how it operates. Essentially, the role of this muscle is to prevent you from snapping bakwards and to hold your body upright by tugging against the erector spinae. It’s also used when you bend forward of course.
What all this might tell you is that the rectus abominus is often trained without going through the full range of motoin. This is why performing sit ups over a bosu ball can be a good way to stretch it out and to challenge the muscle fibers that often get missed.
Another powerful tip if you want abs is to try and add resistance to your training. That might mean doing sit ups while holding a weight plate, or it might mean using machines that providing more challenge while crunching in the gym. Either way, lifting heavier will help you to grow bigger and more defined and this definition is what you need for your abs to stand out.
Some people might contest that last point and say that strengthening the abs will do nothing for the appearance. The easy way to contest this statement is to try contracting your abs right now while looking in a mirror. What you’ll find is that they instantly become much more visible which is simply because they’re now bigger and firmer. Train with some resistance and this is what your abs will always look like.
Of course you can also use exercise in order to encourage more weight loss and this will indirectly lead to better looking abs. There are plenty of exercise programs that you can use in conjunction with the diet in this book but ultimately the right one will depend on your specific goals and your training style.
One more rumor that you need to dismiss though is the idea that you need sub 10% bodyfat in order to see abs. I know this to be true seeing as I’m sitting here at around 15% and you can see my abs. The same goes for an actor such as Chris Evans (Captain America). He is not insanely shredded and probably has a body fatpercentage of around 10-12 percent. He still looks amazing which is thanks to the large, thick muscle that he has built up.
But what is the best option for weight loss? One popular choice is to walk. This is a form of exercise that won’t trigger a fight or flight response, meaning you can do it often and without feeling tireder still at the end of a long day.
Running is great but you can only run so many times a week and it’s not highly practical (you arrive everywhere sweaty!). Walking though is something you can fit into your daily routine and that you can do highly often in order to keep burning large amounts of fat.
Another good option is HIIT. This is high intensity interval training and it essentially involves switching from training that uses slow, easy-going cardio, to training that involves going nearly all-out for short bursts.
This is ideal for using up glycogen, which as we’ve seen can help to prevent sugar from ending up as fat or travelling around the blood. What’s more, is that this then means you actually burn more fat for the rest of the day as you don’t have the glycogen stores to fall back on!
And lastly, consider concurrent training. This simply means that you are combining cardio with resistance training – doing some kind of repetitive task quickly with added weights. A good example might be using a stationary bike on the highest resistance settings, or using the battle ropes. This uses a lot more energy than simply doing cardio and has the added bonus of toning muscle at the same time.
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