Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
15 Feb

The Secret to Great Abs

Admit it: half the reason we all watch Lost is because the main characters are just so great looking. They all have those ripped abs and defined arms that every guy and gal wants. Guess what? It’s not as tough as you’d think to look like Kate or the Doc (oops…lest I start yet another “which guy for Kate” debate, Sawyer, too).

The big myth about getting a sleek, jelly-free belly is that you have to do endless stomach exercises. Hence the never-ending procession of rollers, riders, crunchers and other fitness gimmicks that never give you the washboard you want.

You cannot roll, twist, or squeeze your way to a sexy stomach, no matter what the infomercials tell you.

Here’s why: you already have abs! They might not be as developed as the dude on the cover of Men’s Health, but you already have abs. The problem is that fat is covering them up. Get rid of the fat, and your abs will show up just fine. Believe me, they are there.

Doing stomach exercises is important for further developing those muscles and building core strength (more on that in a moment), but the best thing you can do as far as your torso is concerned – not only for improving confidence, your looks, and your comfort with your body, but your health – is to shed fat. Midsection fat is the most harmful kind of fat to your health and is a critical indicator of stress.

Flex your stomach – even if you’re a couch potato, there’s a little muscle there. Now, if you are flexing and you can still grab abdominal fat in your hand, that’s exactly how much is surrounding your precious internal organs – and that’s a dangerous thing. Fat on your backside? Not so much.

So by all means, crunch away – but your middle will actually get bigger if you don’t simultaneously shrink the fat. Spot toning without overall fat reduction is the wrong approach to getting flat abs, but it’s what most people do. (And notice, nothing changes much, and we all have to suffer through yet another magic abs infomercial with way too much spandex.)

I’m a big proponent of taking care of your torso, not so you can look like a Lost extra (though that’s not a bad thing), but because a healthy middle means reduced chances of obesity (duh), diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and sleep problems.

I’ll be bringing you tips on cutting fat in upcoming posts, but here’s a quick suggestion: cut out all refined carbs, sugar and alcohol for two weeks. I guarantee you’ll see a major reduction in bloat and midsection fat. Although excess calories are what adds the poundage, sugar is the culprit that goes right to the gut. It’s incredibly difficult to have a spare tire if you are primarily getting your calories from protein and produce.

Be sure to check in tomorrow when I’ll be posting a discussion I recently had with Russ Suchala, a fitness colleague of mine and top L.A. physical trainer. You’ll get tons of helpful insights on core health and yes, getting those ripped abs.

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My secret: I never do a sit-up. I just think about having great abs, and poof, there they are!

No, no, just kidding. I do a lot of ab work, but 90% of nice abs = avoiding excess weight from empty calories.

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