Belly fat, the villain standing between you and the six-pack of your dreams. The path to a flat stomach isn’t an easy one, but achievable nonetheless. If abs with definition seem intangible despite crushing it at the gym, maybe it’s time to change up your routine and diet. Mumbai-based certified personal trainer and sports nutritionist, Bhaskar Shetty says, “Exercises that target the abdominal muscles will only give you the best results when combined with cardio and strength training. A calorie-deficit diet, wherein you consume lesser calories than you’re burning, is also essential for getting that flat tummy.” Be sure to target the upper and lower abs, the oblique muscles along your sides, and the back. Here are seven moves that can help you get those washboard abs.
1. CARDIO FOR FLAT ABS
You can do crunches till ‘thy kingdom come’, and still have no sign of those eight packs. Blame this stalemate-like situation on the subcutaneous fat—the uncool, jiggly fat that lies between your skin and muscle. So, while abdominal-muscle-centric exercises will strengthen the muscles, the belly fat will hide them from sight. Turn to cardio for help. You could jog, run, swim or cycle. Or maximise your workout by adding a High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) circuit before you start training your core. This will get your metabolic rate up and continue to burn calories while you train your midriff.
2. THE CLASSIC CRUNCH
Now that the cardio session has accelerated your heart rate, start with this timeless fail-proof tummy training move. Put your hands behind your head, elbows facing out. The trick to nailing this move is by using your ab muscles to lift your upper body and not your neck. Hold the pose, then slowly return to the floor. Do three sets with 10-12 reps. Rest for 30 seconds between all variations of the ab exercises.
3. REVERSE CRUNCH
Your lower abs are annoyingly stubborn. Get them to work with the reverse crunch. Keep your arms palms down at your sides. Use the abs to lift the legs, bringing the knees directly over the hips. Contract the abs further, and raise your hips and lower back off the mat, knees toward your face. Hold briefly before lowering back to the mat. Don’t let your feet touch the floor. Repeat for three sets of 10-12 reps.
4. L-SIT TOE TOUCHES
The toe-touch crunch builds on the double crunch, engaging your lower abs further. Lie on your back and lift your legs and arms up so they are extended towards the ceiling. Lift your upper back off the floor, pushing your shoulder blades forward, reaching your hands towards your feet. Make sure your lower back is pressed into the mat. Repeat the crunch motion to complete one rep. Do three sets of 12 reps each.
5. BICYCLE CRUNCH
This move, as the name suggests, mimics the ‘pedalling’ action of riding a bicycle. It targets your obliques when done right. Lift one leg just off the ground and extend it out. Lift the other leg and bend your knee towards your chest. Then, raise one shoulder as if trying to touch the opposite knee. Repeat on the opposite side for three sets of 12 reps. Keep your elbows back, and your lower back on the floor.
6. SIDE PLANK HIP UP
Side plank is a great way to work both the obliques and the glutes. Lie on your right side, placing the right elbow on the floor directly under the shoulder. Keep the legs straight, with the left leg resting directly on top of the right. As you contract your waist and glutes, raise your hips and knees. And keep lifting the hip up and down while squeezing the obliques in. Keep the right foot in contact with the floor. Do this for 20 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat. Then, switch sides.
7. PLANK TOE TAPS
Begin in a high plank position. Engage core and hinge from the hip to bring your right hand towards your left foot and tap, keeping the spine elongated. Return to the plank and repeat, alternating sides. Do 20 reps on each side. Be sure to stretch your torso long without arching your back.
Do this cardio plus ab circuit three to four times a week along with a clean diet to bid goodbye to jelly-belly.
Disclaimer: If you have some sort of neck or shoulder injury, make sure to do this under supervision after consulting with an experienced trainer/physician.
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