Believe it or not, it is possible to get fast abs. Don’t have a lot of time or money to spend at the fitness club? That’s okay. Follow this three-step plan for fast abs and—with a little discipline and a lot of sweat—you’ll be well on your way to a lifetime of optimal health and fitness.
1. Eat right. In order to have washboard abs, you’ve got to lose fat. There is no way around it. Spot exercises like the bicycle and crunches are essential for toning muscles, but if they are covered up by a layer or two of fat no one is going to see the results of all your effort.
Instead of counting calories, eat smarter. Plan to have five to six small meals each day. Enjoy a mix of carbohydrates and proteins and a minimal amount of fat at each sitting.
The best diet for fast abs is one that emphasizes whole grains, raw fruits and lightly cooked vegetables, eggs, lean protein, nuts and legumes. The super stars of the produce aisle include raspberries and blueberries as well as dark, green cruciferous veggies like spinach, kale and broccoli. Avoid pre-packaged foods and all other foods that are high in fat and contain added sugar. And, as always, be sure to drink up to eight glasses of water per day.
2. Get your heart rate up. The second essential step to losing fat is cardiovascular or aerobic activity. By boosting your heart rate, and keeping it elevated for at least 30 continuous minutes, you burn fat. If you are new to exercise or haven’t exercised in some time, walking is a safe and effective way to begin.
Other good cardio activities for fast abs are running, cycling and swimming. You might also wish to check out the ever-growing range of aerobic classes—from spinning to step, aquafit to water running—at your local gym or community center.
If you are fit and ready for a challenge, there are a couple of ways to maximize the impact of your cardio routine:
1. Some experts advise you to perform your cardio routine first thing in the morning, before you eat breakfast. Because you have been fasting during the night, your body has depleted its carbohydrate stores (the easiest source of energy for the body to access). This helps build fast abs by forcing your body to draw energy directly from your fat stores instead.
2. Use interval training to increase the intensity of your workout and you will automatically boost your fat-burning potential. For runners, this means alternating periods of fast, high intensity running with stretches of slower, more moderate running.
3. Work all three abdominal muscles. As mentioned earlier, abdominal exercises aren’t the secret to fast abs. You need to eat right and burn fat in order to show abs off to their best advantage. Likewise, steps one and two on their own will not result in fast abs.
Fast abs require abdominal exercises that tone all three abdominal muscles: the transversus abdominus, which supports and stabilizes our torso; the rectus abdominus, which enables us to flex our spine; and the internal and external obliques, which we use to turn, rotate and perform lateral movements.
Ideal exercises for fast abs include bench crunches (for the upper abdominals), the bicycle (for the lower abs) and, for the obliques, twists.
Perform three to four sets of each of these exercises twice a week—beginning with 10 repetitions then building up to 30 reps—and you will have fast abs in no time.
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