Struggling with belly fat? Do you spend hours in the gym but your abs still are not showing? If so, tweak your diet and exercise routine! Common mistakes, such as overtraining, sleeping too little, and skimping on protein, can stall your progress.
Remember that abs is made in the kitchen. Not even the best workout plan can compensate for bad eating. Ideally, your diet should be high in protein and low in carbs. Stress, chromosomal imbalances, and excess cardio only make things worse.
Building a six pack takes hard work and commitment. There are no shortcuts or miracle pills to help you out. Crash diets slow down your metabolism, causing your body to store fat. Overtraining increases the stress hormone cortisol levels, which in turns, leads to weight gain. If these things worked, you'd already have six pack abs.
Here's where you might be going wrong and how to fix it:
Eating the Wrong Foods
No matter how hard you work out, training alone will not give you ripped abs. When it comes it comes to building a six pack, exercise and diet are equally important. Your abs will not show unless you have a low body fat percentage. That's about 10 percent body fat for men and 14 percent for women. To shed fat, clean eating is a must.
Sugary treats, junk food, processed meats, refined oils, and soft drinks have no place in a “clean” diet. Your daily meals must consist of real food.
Load up on protein, ditch the sugar, and get your fats from whole foods, such as tuna, salmon, and avocado. Coconut oil is rich in MCTs (medium chain triglycerides), which rev up your metabolism and burn belly fat. Lean meat, fish, eggs, and low-fat dairy are excellent sources of protein. Your carbs should come from green vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
For best results, remove gluten and dairy from your diet. Both gluten and lactose, the sugar in milk, trigger inflammation and promote fat storage. For instance, lactose stimulates insulin release, leading to weight gain. According to study, milk increases insulin levels to the same amount as white bread.
Doing Too Much Cardio
Now let's focus on training. Most gym goers engage in long cardio sessions to get ripped abs. This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Too much cardio can mess up your hormones and put stress on your joints.
When you're spending long hours on the treadmill, your cortisol levels go up. At the same time, testosterone production drops. This leads to weight gain, fatigue, muscle loss, mood swings, and hunger pangs. Excessive cardiovascular training burns both muscle and fat. On top of that, your body adapts to exercise and reduces its energy expenditure.
If you want shredded abs, HIIT the gym hard! Minute per minute, high-intensity interval training is better than cardio for fat loss. It not only torches fat but also boosts your metabolism and improves insulin sensitivity. In the long run, it advances athletic performance. Unlike steady state cardio, it does not affect lean mass.
Trying to Spot Reduce
Like it or not, you can not lose fat from specific areas of the body. No matter how many sit-ups you do, your abs will not show unless you eat clean and lift heavy. The only way to build a six pack is to slowly burn fat from your entire body. This can be done through diet, high intensity training, and heavy lifting.
Most times, belly fat is the last bit to come off. Unless you're genetically gifted with a fast metabolism, it can take weeks or even a month to make your abs pop. The key is consistency.
Abdominal exercises will strengthen your core but have little effect on body fat levels. Compound movements, such as the deadlift, push-ups, squats, and chin-ups, increase metabolism and improve body composition. Three sets of heavy squats will do more for your abs than hundreds of crunches.
Relying on Gym Machines
Gym machines can add variety to your workout and help maintain good lifting form. However, they are not a substitute for dumbbells, barbells, and other free weights. For instances, weighted crunches are far more effective than the ab crunch machine.
When you're using free weights, your body works hard to maintain its balance. This helps develop core strength, improves your posture, and boosts muscular endurance.
Free weights challenge your muscles into growth and make you stronger overall. They also help you burn more calories, leading to fat loss. The squat, chest press, military press, and other exercises that require free weights force your core to stabilize. This helps increase ab definition and improvements your balance. Occasionally, you can use gym machines for the last set when your muscles are fatigued.
Let's say you do three sets of weighed crunches. At this point, your abs should be on fire. Perform an extra set on the cable crunch machine to reach muscle failure. Use this strategy for all muscle groups, not just your abs.
Working Your Abs Every Day
It's not unusual to see gym goers doing ab work every single day. Your abdominals are just like any other muscle. If you're overtraining them, they will adapt and stop growing. In the worst case scenario, you'll end up losing muscle.
Work your abs once every three days or so. Give your body time to recover. Focus on compound exercises, such as barbell squat and pull-ups, on the days when you're training abs. These movements engage your core muscles and burn fat.