OK, lets face it…it’s bathing suit season.
Now, I will admit that it’s my belief that we should not get so flustered over more skin showing; we should not train for a season. We should always be training, focusing on diet, etc. etc. This is not the reality for most people (myslef included). I let things go. The last two weeks I have been bad about diet, for sure! Right now, for instance, I am feeling really sick because I ate some pasta (I stupidly decided to cut out wheat a few months ago…turns out it makes me sick when I eat it now…great. All my favorites). It is true, though, that some of us would like to improve certain areas for our bathing suit bodies. Abs anyone?
This is what I always hear: I want a flat stomach, I want some definition, I want “core exercises”.
When you have a bar overhead, do you engage your abs, or let them hang? When you do a push up, do you have a saggy belly or do you hold tight? You should always be working your core! In every workout, you need to engage. If you don’t you’ll most likely be taking the load on your back which no one wants.
If you are doing this and you still want more, are you focusing on diet? Are you well hydrated? Are you staying away from carbonated drinks (which apparently make you bloat)? Are you in the gym more than 2x a week? Are you drinking beer? Are you drinking alcohol period?
Sometimes, all of these thing are in place, but we just cant seem to be where we want. I know many cases that are helped by simply burning calories: speed walking, jogging, biking, etc. Up the cardio to burn some calories, and you’ll see results (only of course if you are supporting your work with good nutrition). When I was biking every day to school, approximately 14 miles round trip and going to the gym, I was pretty lean.
Now, with all this other stuff in place (the diet, the WODs) and you are still in need of some definition, then here are a few fall backs I like to use:
1) Oh so long ago, my first gymnastics coach told me to walk around with my stomach flexed. Not only did this help with posture, but flexing your abs in this way makes you contract the “under layer” of muscles. In doing so, you’ll be sucking in, and keeping your abdomen tight. Some people who do crunches for hours on end never have flat stomach’s because they have only developed muscles on top. We need exercises to keep the transverse abdominis flat, so our bellies don’t look distended.
2) The 50’s: 4 sets of 50 crunches. 1 set regular (knees up, laying flat on your back), 1 set on each side (roll to the fetal position but rotate your shoulders so that they are laying flat on the ground with you lower torso still laying on its side), and 1 set of knees on chair (lay flat on your back with your knees raised up in the air like they were resting on a chair).
3) Lengthening: Lay on your back. Get into a tucked position (round your back, hold your knees and pull your head off the floor). From your “ball” slowly extend your arms and legs to as much of a hollow position as you can and then retract back to your ball. Repeat this about 10 times. I find this is great for working total muscle groups, and making your abs look long and lean. Remember to stay engaged!
4) Gymnastics series of 4×10: This is a killer. Lay on your back with your arms overhead. Crunch with the upper half of your body 10 times, crunch with the lower half of your body 10 times, do 10 mini v-ups (if there was a crunch of a v-up that is how big your mini v-up would be), and then do 10 hollow rocks. Repeat on each side and on your stomach (in the super man position). Your series on your side will be a little awkward, but if you are doing it right, you’ll feel the burn!
Or, you could just do what Cameron Diaz does…100 kettle bells swing each day. She looks pretty good!