Most of us are familiar with the endless quest for a flatter tummy. But sometimes it seems that no matter how many crunches we do, those six-pack abs (or even a hint of them!) never appear. If you’ve tried it all: crunches, spin classes, PX90, and still don’t know how to get flat abs, it might be because you’re going about it the wrong way.
As celebrity trainer, Jillian Michaels, says, “Six pack abs aren’t about crunches. You CAN NOT spot reduce fat. The best way to get a washboard tummy is by burning the fat off on top of the muscle with a combination of diet, cardio, & over all core based functional training.” We can’t help you with willpower or the time to workout but, we can give you these hints for how to get flat abs and maybe even a six-pack!
1. Your Six Pack is Hidden
No matter how toned your ab muscles are, if you’ve got excess body fat they’ll remain hidden. As you probably know women are designed to carry more fat than men—that’s why they’re curvy.
Read Related: Master of Minimum: At-Home Workouts for Men who are Lazy
2. You’re Only Doing Crunches
If you want to know how to get flat abs, you’ve got to go beyond crunches. To really tone and strengthen your core you need to work it all: upper, lower, obliques, transverse and your back.
3. Too Much Exercise
Overtraining any muscle group can lead to injury. If you don’t allow your muscles time to rest and repair themselves, you can actually make it harder to tone up and decrease your metabolism.
4. You Can’t Spot Reduce Fat
You can spot tone by targeting specific muscle groups—like abs. Fat, however, is all or nothing.
Just as you inherit traits like height and eye color from your parents, muscle definition and your ability to build muscle mass is genetic. But even if your muscles will never be bulging and sinewy (and do you really want that?) everyone benefits from toning up.
6. Not Enough Cardio
Toning exercises generally won’t burn enough fat to make a visible difference in your abs. It takes regular cardio workouts to melt away unwanted pounds.
7. You Aren’t Putting in the Time
It can take four to eight weeks of regular workouts before you start seeing any visible changes. So be patient, don’t get discouraged and focus on how great it is to feel more fit.
8. Bad Posture
Your mother was right. Stand up straight, shoulders back and suck in your stomach. Good posture makes you look taller, but also thinner while keeping your core engaged so you’re toning even when you aren’t working out.
A healthy diet is key to weight loss and toning so load up on lean protein and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Remember, if you eat too few calories, your body will go into starvation mode and you can actually lose muscle instead of fat.
10. You Aren’t in Your 20s
After a certain age, there is no easy trick for how to get flat abs. As we age, our metabolism slows and it gets harder to maintain muscle fitness. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible but it may take a little more work in your 40s than it did in your 20s.
Stress increases cortisol levels in your body which can make it harder to lose weight and can actually cause you to gain weight in your abdomen. So make sure to find time for a little serenity and pampering.
You know what triggers bloating: salt, sugar, gassy foods and carbonated beverages. The longer you stay away from these culprits, the flatter your abs will look.
13. Bad Form
Exercising on your own is great doing but it incorrectly may do more harm than good. So make sure you have proper form. It can help to watch a few videos or schedule a session or two with a personal trainer.
14. Too Many Trans Fats
You’ve probably heard about good fats and bad fats, well trans fats fall into the latter category and studies have shown they tend to show up in your midsection. Monounsaturated fats, in moderation of course, may actually help with weight loss and have been shown to lower cholesterol and help moderate blood glucose levels.