By now you may be fed up with commercials boasting that their product or DVD will get you flat abs. Realistically, many women can’t have flat stomachs because it’s not physiologically possible to achieve. For many people, the abs are not genetically designed to be washboard flat, but rather to be more rounded. In addition to genetics, your age, gender, body type and the shape of your abdomen will play a part in how realistically your abdominals shape up, even with exercise.
Realistic Workout Frequency
Getting results and a smaller waist may be a big motivator, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should engage your abdominal muscles every day with exercise. The American Council on Exercise suggests treating your abdominal muscles like any other muscle group, giving your abs time to recover between workouts by not training them every day. Include abdominal exercises two or three days per week and make sure to give them at least 24 hours to rest before performing another round of exercises. You can also increase the intensity of abdominal exercises by adding resistance, slowing down your reps or performing them on an incline bench or an exercise ball.
Realistic Workout Goals
Be realistic about your workout goals. Trying to put together an abdominal workout plan that has you performing exercises for one hour every other day may not be realistic if you have children, a busy work schedule or a life outside of the gym. Utilize the time you do have to spend on your abdominal exercises. Be realistic about how much time you have to spend each day. At the same time, consider how much time you spend watching television or doing other sedentary activities. Try a quick abdominal workout of body-weight exercises as you are watching your favorite show, or consider getting up 15 minutes earlier in the morning.
Realistic Workout Results
Working your abdominal muscles will benefit you in the long run. When you engage your abdominal muscles with exercise, more often than not you are engaging all of your core muscles, including those of the lower back and sides as well as the abdomen. Strengthening these muscles helps with balance and stability, making daily activities or sports easier, according to MayoClinic.com. Over time, exercises that work your core muscles will also help you achieve more well-defined abdominal muscles. Include exercises such as stability ball crunches, planks and side planks, bicycle crunches and double-leg abdominal presses. Try five sets of 10 to 15 reps per set on each abdominal and core exercise.
Incorporating realistic ab exercises that engage your abdominal, oblique and lower back muscles will help to tone your waist. However, you also need to cut calories for those beautifully toned abs to show through. Skip high-calorie, low-nutrition foods, reduce your portion sizes and choose reduced-calorie options for your meals and snacks. One pound of fat equates to 3,500 calories, so to lose 1 pound per week, cut about 500 calories per day with a xombination of exercise and dieting.
- ABCNews.com: 5 Core Exercises Every Woman Should Do
- MayoClinic.com: Core Exercises: Why You Should Strengthen Your Core Muscles
- MayoClinic.com: Exercises to Improve Your Core Strength
- MayoClinic.com: Counting Calories: Get Back to Weight-Loss Basics
- American Council on Exercise: Should I Train My Abdominal Muscles Every Day?
Danielle Clark has been a writer since 2009, specializing in environmental and health and fitness topics. She has contributed to magazines and several online publications. Clark holds a Bachelor of Science in ecology and environmental science.