Its almost summer. So naturally many people come to the gym with one thing on their brain: a swimsuit. And as nice as it’d be if everyone worked out for the health benefits, lets be honest… all that hard work is partially for looks. It also doesn’t help that our image obsessed culture can persuade us to take extreme measures when it comes to our health. Raw detox diets, excessive fitness routines, even strange wardrobe choices just to get to a specific size come vacation.
When it comes to “swimsuit ready” abs there is really no secret, no extreme quick fix, or fancy treatment. It all comes down to a clean diet, regular fitness routine, and a stress free lifestyle. Oh yeah… and setting realistic expectations on what a “strong core” means for YOU. I know many strong, healthy, and fit people who could never appear as an Abercrombie ad model. Does that make them unhealthy? NO. Does it mean they can’t have abs? Also no. Anyone can get abs; it just may take some more time than others.
Here are my tips to help you break down the steps needed to get a slimmer stomach come summer. With a little sweat, dedication, and smart training and you’ll be swimsuit ready in no time.
1. Follow a clean, colorful, healthy diet. Strive for a balanced diet of whole, unprocessed foods with smart carbs, lean proteins and healthy fats. Also be sure to get the appropriate amount of protein needed for your activity level as it is important in helping to develop muscle tone and definition. For help, read my Protein 101 post and use the handy protein calculator to make sure you are getting enough to fuel the abs you want. It can also be helpful to take it easy on alcohol, sweets, and excessive amounts of fiber to avoid belly bloat. Moderation and healthy eating are key, just make sure your diet is sustainable LONG TERM and includes LIVING.
2. Get Your HEART pumping. You’ve probably heard the saying “everyone has a 6-pack, but it’s just hiding under a layer of fat”. This is partially true— without a healthy diet or flat blasting cardio it’s hard to achieve definition in the core muscle group. For cardio, aim for at least 20 minutes, everyday for health; 30-45 minutes 5-6 days per week for aerobic and fitness improvement. It’s important to vary your cardio intensities throughout the week for maximum benefit. There’s no need to hit the gym HARD everyday. Vary your cardiovascular training with low, moderate, and high intensities. Mix up your routine often with new exercises, classes, or intervals to avoid hitting a rut or plateau. Need ideas? Feel free to try out some of my invigorating interval workouts next time your fitness routine gets stale.
3. Build lean muscle definition with Strength Training. All cardio and no weights makes you a “skinny fat” (and injury prone!) fitness fanatic. Not only does strength training help you see lean muscle definition, it boosts your metabolism increasing your calorie burn 24-7. Unlike fat, muscle is metabolically active in the body. Replace 10 pounds of fat with 10 pounds of lean muscle and you can burn an additional 25 to 50 calories a day without even trying. This “afterburn” effect is the metabolism boost needed to maintain a healthy weight overtime. With just two strength sessions a week, you can reduce overall body fat by about 3 percent in just 10 weeks, without cutting a single calorie from your diet. That translates to as much as three inches total off your waist and hips – giving your body and belly a leaner, stronger appearance.
If you want abs you need the weights… here’s how to incorporate them into your exercise routine: Keep up with your cardio and aim to add in 2-3 strength training workouts to your week of workouts. It doesn’t need to take much time and can be done with cardio days if needed to work with your schedule. Aim to work all the major muscle groups over the week; complete one to two sets of 8-12 repetitions of each exercise. To get started, check out the American Council on Exercise for an extensive library of weight training moves.
To learn more about the metabolism boosting and weight loss benefits of strength training, check out these posts:
- Fearless FEMALE challenge: Don’t be afraid of the weights! TRAIN for STRENGTH!
- “I want to PUMP you UP” – STRENGTH TRAINING is IMPORTANT!
- Reader Request: Is Yoga the Same as Strength Training?
4. Work your CORE with high quality, effective exercises. You’ll want to incorporate core strengthening moves into your weekly strength routine for swimsuit stomach definition. Here are a few things to remember when working your core:
- A good workout goal is to aim for 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps per exercise. If the exercise is a plank, try for 2-3 sets of holding for 30-60 seconds and gradually build your time as you increase your fitness. The world record for the plank is 90 minutes!
- Give your abs at least 48 hours of recovery time before working them again. Train abs like crazy and the muscles will continue to tear with each workout session and wont have adequate time to repair and grow back leaner and stronger.
- Quality over Quantity. A plank done with good form will get you much further than thousands of fast, sloppy crunches. It also can help to do core work at the BEGINNING of the workout instead of leaving it until the end. That way you’ll have the energy to perform each ab exercise with quality and energy…. and you wont be tempted to skip out on it early.
- Challenge yourself with functional core moves. When it comes to training your core, choose exercises that are functional (help you perform better in daily life) and challenge you to grow stronger. Planks, V ups, and “hollow rocks” are a few of my favorites. To get you started, I’ve filmed a fitness video just for you. It’s a short 10 minutes and includes some of my personal core favorites. This ab routine doesn’t require any equipment and is perfect for at home or traveling workouts. You can choose to work through the circuit once, or repeat the routine 2-3 times through for a longer core workout. I have a feeling if you do the workout well you’ll be feeling strong and sore.
Want more core workout videos to sweat to? I’ve got tons of em – check out my YOUTUBE channel.
There’s really no magic secret when it comes to getting a “summer six pack”. If you want to improve your core strength follow a healthy diet, work it out, and train smart. I’m here to support you 110%. Enjoy your summer and have a great time strutting your stuff in a swimsuit!
Till next time… keep shining 🙂
Other things to Check Out This week:
- The Science of A Six Pack. Extraordinary video by EQUINOX with crazy core moves…. something to work up to thats for sure!
- Prenatal Fitness. Articles, stories, and tips for a healthy, happy pregnancy at Bumplife.
- Yoga Playlist – “Falling Awake”. Great songs on here!
- Free foot exercise video. Stretch and strengthen your feet with this 5 minute routine.