Good news, FitFam! If you start now, you can have visible abdominal muscles in time for the warmer weather. Of course, the degree of visibility will depend on your current body fat percentage, fitness level and (let's be honest), your genetic makeup. 60% of where our bodies store fat and how well we build muscle (and where) is genetically predetermined. We're not trying to be discouraging — just honest. After all, you still have 40% to work with, and with some commitment and good advice, you can rock your tautest tummy yet in just a few months.
But again, you've got to start now. Keep reading. Here are 5 hacks to have abs by summer.
- Get Enough Sleep
One of the very best ways to trim tummy fat is by hitting the hay. Studies show that people who regularly get enough sleep (7-9 hours a night) have lower body fat percentages — especially around their midsection. One of the reasons for this phenomenon is that lack of sleep is linked to higher cortisol levels. While cortisol is an important hormone when balanced, when it's elevated, it's linked to fat storage in the stomach area.
Sleep is also closely linked to willpower. Anyone who's ever mowed through a pastry platter at the office after a tough night can attest to the fact that when you're tired, you're more likely to give into temptation. Studies confirm: your willpower suffers when your sleep does. People who sleep less have more body fat. Simple as that.
So, if you want your abs to a debut this summer, make sure you get enough sleep.
Intermittent fasting (IF) isn't just some diet fad: people have been fasting for centuries to lose fat and improve health. IF has been shown to increase human growth hormone, which will help you build muscle and lose fat — among a host of other perks. The most common kind of intermittent fasting is 16:8, meaning you fast for 16 hours a day, and eat for eight. Most of your fasting is done when you're asleep, so most people find IF refreshingly easy. For example: you stop eating after dinner at 6pm, and then eat your first meal the next day at 10am. There's no strict diet you have to follow: just eat a healthy, balanced diet composed mostly of whole foods and you'll see results. During your fasting window, you can have water, black coffee or black tea, but nothing with any calories. No drinks with artificial sweeteners, either, since studies aren't conclusive as to the effect of these sugar substitutes on blood sugar levels.
Interested in IF? Read more about it here and keep your eyes on our store and social feeds. We'll be launching a complete guide to IF soon!
- Don't Spot Train
The path to rock hard abs is not paved with crunches and sit ups. The best way to uncover your 6-pack is to use resistance to build your muscle mass all over your body, especially in your glutes and legs, since these muscle groups house the biggest muscles in your body. A pound of muscle takes more energy (calories) to maintain than a pound of fat, so when you build lean muscle mass all over your body, you're increasing your body's energy needs, and as such, your metabolism. A higher metabolism means a trimmer body. Simple as that.
This doesn't mean you shouldn't train your abs at all; just that you should also train your lower body and upper body as well as your core.
- Go 90/10
If you're reading this, chances are abs don't come naturally for your body. You're in good company. While some people are genetically predisposed to have naturally slim stomachs and can easily build muscle, that is not the case for most of us. Stomach fat is particularly hard to shake because our bodies want to hold onto some of it: this fat protects our organs from injury. (Thankfully, so does muscle.) Here's the point: to get your body fat whittled down to a percentage where your ab muscles are visible, you are going to have to eat pretty damn clean most of the time. You hear people using the 80/20 ratio a lot (80% clean, whole healthy food, 20% processed, junk foods), but in our experience the best ab gains are seen when that ratio is closer to 90/10. This pushes our bodies to relinquish the excess fat around our midsections to reveal our hard won abs.
Don't worry about your organs! You still have visceral fat (deep, internal fat that surrounds your organs) and, again, your muscles to protect your insides.
Need help tweaking your meals and snacks for an ab-forward diet? Check out our Get Sexy Abs ebook! You'll get workouts, recipes and life hacks.
- Pop This Pill!
There is no magic bullet when it comes to fat loss, but NAC amino acids come pretty close. No, NAC will not undo a crap diet and non-existent workout regime, but NAC (N-Acetyl-Cysteine) and is a form of the essential amino acid cysteine. This supplement has been shown to aid in fat loss and increase athletic performance — both essential aspects of strong, sexy, visible abs.
You have the intel, now get on your game face! Your goals mean nothing if you don’t take the action to back them up.