If there is one muscle group that any person would wish to develop, it is abdominals. Not only do abs look great on the beach and in tight fitting clothes but they are essential in high levels of performance. So if everyone has this desire when they get into the gym, why do most of the people working out not have tight abs or a flat belly? Well, there are several reasons, in this article I discuss many…
What causes belly fat?
Many women and men are frustrated with their bodies because even though they work out, they can’t get a flat stomach. Excess belly fat is often caused by stress. Stress releases cortisol, a fight-or-flight chemical that interferes with metabolic function. In an emergency situation, cortisol helps you fight or flee your way out of danger.
However, when stress is chronic, cortisol becomes counterproductive. Excessive cortisol levels can lead to impaired digestion, anxiety, adrenal fatigue, thyroid malfunction, and metabolic fluctuations. Oftentimes, chronic stress also leads to poor sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep, it reduces your leptin levels. Leptin is a hormone, produced by several body organs, that tells your brain when you’ve had enough to eat.
Poor diet is another common contributor to belly fat. If you’re eating a lot of prepackaged “diet” foods, you’ll never get the flat belly you want. This is because these convenience foods are loaded with additives, preservatives, synthetic sweeteners, and trans fats that interfere with normal metabolic and immune system function.
A sedentary lifestyle is another reason you haven’t been able to get those flat abs. If you’re a bodybuilder who only does weight-training and crunches, you still may struggle with belly fat. This is because no matter how many curls and crunches you do, you’re gaining strength but not toning down. You need cardio for that.
I’m working out….why am I not seeing results?
REASON #1- YOU CAN’T OUT CRUNCH A BAD DIET
The secret to visible abs is no secret at all, lower your body fat %. This doesn’t happen by doing hundreds of ab exercises. You can train your abs all you want, but if your diet isn’t clean overall, you’ll never see a six-pack. You cannot out train a bad diet.
REASON #2- YOUR FORM IS SLOPPY
The wrong form can turn an effective exercise into one that won’t do anything for you. At times we let our abs slacks off by: pulling on your neck, using momentum rather than muscle strength, sagging your hips in plank, and not keeping your abs pulled in during every move. “You must control your abdominal wall to get any real benefit. Suck your stomach in on every exercises. You know ladies like when we get ready to take a picture!
REASON #3- YOU’RE DOING THE WRONG EXERCISES
The worst exercise for a flat belly is sit-ups, especially when done incorrectly. “If you strain your neck, most of the work ends up being in the hip flexors rather than the abs.” The exercises most experts love: planks, bicycle crunches, and functional movements that work the entire body like kettlebell swings. Bosu and stability balls can boost the power of crunches, as these tools challenge your balance and force your core to work harder.
REASON #4- YOU’RE BREATHING WRONG OR NOT AT ALL
Breathing should be a main focus during ab work. Your stomach sits behind the abdominal wall. Improper breathing pushes the stomach out, forcing the abdominal wall to protrude—the exact opposite of what you want during ab work. The correct way to breathe during a crunch is this: Inhale to prepare; begin to exhale as you pull your belly button toward your spine and start to curl up, keeping your abs pulled in throughout the move.
REASON #5- YOU EAT THE WRONG FOODS
A healthy and clean diet is the fastest way to a flat belly. You could do 1,000 ab exercises a day, but if you’re consuming too many calories, your rock-solid six-pack is going to be hiding under fat. If you really want results, eat fewer refined carbohydrates (rice, bread, pasta) and watch your sugar and alcohol intake, as these foods tend to lead to belly fat. Instead, fill up on lean protein (such as beans, chicken, turkey, lean beef, fish, and low-fat dairy) and non-starchy fruits and vegetables.
REASON #6- YOUR CARDIO TRAINING NEEDS TO BE ADJUSTED
Depending on your training goals set by your trainer….swap your consistent speed treadmill and elliptical workouts for interval training and you’ll burn through the extra belly fat faster. Speed of your movement—walking, running, swimming, cycling—or crank up the resistance for 90-180 seconds and then slow down. To keep your body challenged and avoid plateaus, regularly change the duration, speed, and resistance of your intervals.
REASON #7- TOO MUCH ALCOHOL
I’m not going to tell you to abstain from alcohol, I’m pretty open about how much I enjoy a little vodka. But when you’re trying to lose weight and tone up, alcohol is the ultimate enemy. Alcohol releases estrogen into the bloodstream and when you have excess estrogen, you’re more prone to hold onto weight. Ever seen a guy with a beer belly? It’s the excess estrogen causing that fat and inhibiting muscle growth.
Alcohol also lowers your inhibitions, decreases your willpower, and stimulates your appetite. The result? You in a drive-thru ordering a cheeseburger and fries. Now THAT is definitely not the route to a rock hard six pack. Your best bet is to take a break from alcohol altogether until you meet your weight-loss goals.
REASON#8-TOO MUCH SALT & NOT ENOUGH WATER
Bloating isn’t all in your head. It is possible to carry extra water weight in your stomach. To beat the bloat, decrease your sodium intake to 2000 mg a day and increase your water consumption. It’s easy to start monitoring your sodium intake by reading food labels. Limiting the amount of sodium you consume will help you reduce your water retention and look leaner in your clothes.
REASON#9- FAT LOSS IS EQUAL OPPORTUNITY
You do not control where you lose fat! You do control where you build and strengthen muscle. Think about it every time we start to lose weight is usually starts in a certain area of the body and hits another area last. For me, I lose in my stomach then lower body. My upper body is the last to go and takes the most work.
Contrary to what many people believe, doing thousands of sit-ups or crunches all day will not get you closer to achieving a 6-pack or flat belly. Both belly bulge and love handles are about excess body fat, NOT lack of muscle. That’s why ab exercises alone are not the solution. Scoring a flat stomach is all about workouts that impact different muscle groups at the same time — so you’re strengthening your entire body AND burning more calories.
The only way you can lose fat from your belly is to lose fat from your entire body. Situps and crunches simply won’t do this for you, even though I’m sure you’ve heard otherwise. What is important to understand is that there’s a big difference between strengthening your ab muscles and losing the layer of fat on top of them.
REASON#10- IT TAKES HARD WORK AND COMMITMENT
It takes eating healthy, training regularly and correctly to lose belly fat. The fact of the matter is that most people say they re committed to this and most are not. That’s why I always tell my clients, I don’t have a magic wand, but if you do the things that I am telling you to do you will be successful in reaching your goals. I don’t care how many DVD’s and online programs you spend your money on, the fact is you need to put in work or visit your closest plastic surgeon. But even then, you are guaranteed to gain the weight back because you will continue with old habits not developing new ones from putting in hard work.
So what does this all mean?…..
If you want a flat belly or a 6 pack you have to put in work! There is no easy way as you can see. But once you get it, its hard to lose it if you stay to a decent routine after accomplishing your goal.