I don’t know if it’s that it’s summer still or it’s just the cyclical nature in which trainers find themselves having these conversations, but many of my clients seem to be asking me the famous question:
“How do I lose THIS”? (Cue the pointing to the front of the abs and the “love handle” area).
Don’t take this the wrong way. I love you all and I respect the question. There was even a time in the past where I believed I could do 1,000 crunches a day and get that 6 pack. But I’m SO far removed from that, and if you’re looking to “spot train”, I may not be your trainer 🤷🏻♀️
Do I think there are some really great core workouts out there? Sure do! Do I think that might help some people who are already doing the steps I’m going to mention below? Sure do.
But for the vast majority of us, here’s what I think: don’t waste your time. Atleast not yet!
Getting toned (and more importantly, strong) abs IS important. They look great on the beach, sure, but our abs are also important for supporting our whole bodies, preventing back pain, supporting breathing and improving function in everything we do! Literally, everything (should) be supported by the right core muscles.
And while I’m at it, let’s talk about why I get really fired up about having a healthy core. Ever hear of visceral fat?? It’s NOT our friend. Visceral fat is the kind that shows up around our organs and leads to a multitude of scary and chronic health conditions. Skinny people can have visceral fat too, but if you have some extra weight around your abdomen, you may very well be carrying visceral fat.
So I love the idea of creating a strong, healthy core. So let’s talk about how, in order of the most important (IMO)…
1. You know the saying, “abs are made in the kitchen”. Well, it’s so true!! If I were to suggest one single area for a client to focus on to obtain the abs they’re looking for, it would be investing in their nutritional habits. Mainly, protein pacing, eating enough fruits and veggies, eliminating or greatly reducing unhealthy processed foods and incorporating the right intermittent fasting protocol for their body. For those who need a bit more guidance in adopting these habits in a healthy, convenient way, my 7 day reset might be the way to go: https://jessicatreadwell1.isagenix.com/en-us/shop/weight-management/7-day-reset?pid=4b40a31da5ba44e29fd6e98499ef7f71
2. Don’t be afraid to lift- heavy! I understand that cardio exercise burns more calories in the moment, but remember- we’re going for fat burn here. We need to convert fat into muscle and you can’t do that without building muscle. If you’ve been lifting the same five pound weights for years and running five days a week- but still not feeling the difference in your core- let’s switch it up. With the right guidance (enter a qualified personal trainer), you’ll wanna start changing your workout routine, progressively increasing the weight you lift and incorporate functional strength training. I love things like deadlifts, lunges with a core rotation, squat presses, push ups…Again, have a trainer check your form and progress load gradually.
3. This last tip may not be for everyone, so read thoughtfully and decide it it’s right for you. Using some type of a food journal (again- safely) can be a really great tool. Studies show that food journaling leads to greater weight loss AND more sustainable weight loss for many. I actually find it helpful for tracking macros way more than calories. If you want abs, consider this: are you getting enough protein in your day? What’s your percentage of carbs to healthy fats and protein? Every body is SO different, and so are our macronutrient needs, but if we don’t track where we’re at and alter things a bit, we can’t know what will work. Again, if you can track your food for a week or too without becoming obsessed with calories, this might be worth a try. Take a look at your macronutrient ratio at the end of each day and see what you may want to tweak going forward.
So, if you’re doing all these things and still want some more ab definition, add those core workouts. But if you’re not doing these yet, I highly encourage you to give these a try first.
If you don’t have a health coach to guide you through these steps, reach out anytime for a free consultation. If you do try these, I’d love to hear what’s working for you!
To your health- and strength!