Want Leaner, Flatter Abs And A Stronger Core?
Let’s have a little fun; answer the following questions with a simple "True" or "False":
Sit-ups and crunches can make your stomach look distended /stick out more.
True! Doing sit-ups using improper form/posture makes the stomach stick out worse and can even make lean and fit people look like they have excess belly fat.
The more sit-ups you do, the flatter your stomach and stronger your core will be.
False! Sit-ups don't make your stomach flatter, eating clean does. Diet is 90 percent of our weight loss success, and you can't exercise away a bad diet.
So, what should you do if you need to lose weight? Dial in your diet!
If you're serious about melting belly fat and losing weight, the most effective way to do this (whether your 10 pounds overweight or 100 pounds overweight) is to replace your current breakfast with a Metabolic Boosting Weight Loss Shake (minus milk, fruit, or juice) to reduce your caloric intake, while providing your body with the nutrients it needs to prevent your metabolism from slowing down. It also helps offset the excess calories you may have eaten by accident. It also increases your metabolic rate by 25 percent and is faster and easier than any other method. Why struggle when you can enjoy a delicious smoothie every day? You'll save time and money... in fact, lots of time because you won't need to over-exercise and wear out your joints.
Sit-ups and crunches can reduce the lifespan of your spinal discs and cause nerve damage.
True! Quit doing sit-ups and start working your Abs smarter versus harder, and let's take it a step further by adding a posture correction to the mix. Join me now in the LynFit "Quit doing sit-ups Plank Challenge." It's only one minute a day, so no excuses!
If you're like me, I’m guessing that even though you “know” that doing sit-ups every day, regardless of how many you do, will not get rid of the belly fat; you just can’t seem to stop because it feels like a quick fix. Your Abs burn so it must be good, right? Wrong!
It’s human to think that and even fall into the "doing too many sit-ups trap" versus eating less and doing planks. In today’s world of cell phone overuse, almost all of us spend our time looking down at our phones, and it’s causing our postures to slump forward, which actually accentuates a belly bulge. No matter how lean you are, if you have poor posture and your shoulders slump over, your Abs will not look fit, and your belly fat will hang over your pants, even if you're lean.
I propose a sit-up strike for the next 30 days. Stop doing sit-ups completely and start doing planks instead. If you're not able to do planks for some reason, whether it be weakness, back, neck, or shoulder pain, you can modify them and alleviate the pain and excess pressure by planking on all fours in a crawl position.
Either way, make sure to set yourself up for success by starting off with proper form.
The proper form is to place your hands or elbows directly under your shoulders, with your elbows or arms at a 90-degree angle. Your body should form a straight line from the crown of your head to your heels, or if you're in crawl position, to your tailbone. Either way, straighten yourself out.
Keep your head up! A great way to make sure that you do this correctly is to place a non-breakable item like a cup, a book, or paper cup on your head so that if you forget (most people do) and drop your head, the item will fall off and signal you to keep your head in alignment with the rest of your body.
Signal your stomach muscles to do the work of holding your body in a straight line by pulling them in. I tell my clients to zip up their Abs as if they are putting on a tight pair of pants. This makes your Abs flat and protects your back muscles from taking over. It also covers the front of your core, but the core is much more. Our core also consists of our legs and glutes, so in order for us to get them to do some work, we have to contract/tighten our muscles. Try pushing or extending your heels to the wall behind you and work at straightening your legs. It's harder than it seems. This is how you do a true plank, and the pay off is well worth it.
Now visualize squeezing a golf ball in your buttocks tightly, and don’t let go. This recruits the deeper core muscles that protect our backs and help perfect our posture. Time yourself and hold for 30-60 seconds, or set the stopwatch on your phone and see how long you can plank. You’ll get better every day.
Don’t worry if you can’t last more than 10 seconds. When you start training smarter versus always focusing on harder, your Abs will respond by getting stronger by the day. That’s not me being positive, that’s a 100 percent guarantee. If you train your Abs consistently and frequently (using good form), they will become stronger every time you work them. As we say in church, "You can’t have a testimony without a test," and this is true when it comes to attaining a strong core... they work if you work them.
A plank done using proper form a day will:
- Keep your back and neck aches and pains away
- Perfect your posture
- Flatten your abs
And, standing tall doesn’t only help you look more fit, it makes you look younger too!
For 30 days, I want you to plank before you get out of bed. Plank for one minute, and if that gets too easy, I want you to challenge your core by throwing it off-balance versus planking for any longer because planking for longer can cause overuse injuries. For those of you ADD types (like myself) who can’t stay focused that long, try a Rocking Plank, which is rocking forward on your toes until your shoulders go past your heels and back, so your foot is flexed to keep your mind busy and your Abs engaged.
If you're already planking, I suggest challenging your core in new ways. Try these three tricks to make your core even stronger versus going longer.
- Single arm plank: Lift your right arm, extending out in front of you without allowing your hips to shift to the opposite side. Repeat on the other side, keeping your thumb up, and reach as far as you can for a great posture lengthening stretch. Hold each side for 30 seconds.
- Single leg plank: Lift your right leg, extending in back of you without allowing your hips to move. Stretch the foot, reaching as far back as you can, keeping your knee facing the floor. Repeat on the other side. Hold each side for 30 seconds.
- Opposite arm and leg reach: Now combine the two by reaching with your right arm and left leg. Remember, don’t allow your body to move, keep your hips aligned and stiff, and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the opposite side for 30 seconds.
Your body and your mind will thank you for carving 60 seconds out every day to keep it in working order and growing stronger! Isn't your health worth it?
- Lisa Lynn