The washboard. In a way similar to king Arthur, or Monty Python, searching for the holy grail most people that work out are on a search for the famed four, six, or eight pack abs. And yet it still eludes most of us. So, as a fellow gym-goer in searching for the fabled washboard abs, I'll offer up a few tips I've managed to gather on my journey.
Tip number one? Following a high protein, but low carb diet. When it comes to building lean muscle and a physique with square shoulders and a thin waist, it's important to consume four to six small meals a day. Doing this tends to help speed up your metabolism at a pretty fast rate, although there are many different theories on meal frequencies. One thing that's pretty easy to prove, is that eating smaller meals more often will help most people avoid overeating and curb hunger to help you avoid overeating.
Along with the more frequent and smaller meals, you should make sure to eat your carbs early in the morning so that you burn them throughout the day and get energy from doing so.
Another tip is that when it comes to having strong abs, isolation work alone usually won't be the best method to increase the core strength, according to Liz Neoporent; president of Wellness 360, a wellness consulting firm in New York
."People have this misconception that the best way to strengthen the abs is to get on the floor and do a thousand crunches," Neporent says."If we could spot reduce, our jaws would be hollow," Barrett adds. "We probably work the jaw muscle in talking and eating more than any other, and none of us have hollow jaws." "You have to see the abs as a 360-degree core," she says. "You want to develop strength and flexibility around that core."
"Fitness needs to be intelligent," says Barrett. "Do slow, high-quality exercise." Neporent recommends Pilates "because the focus is the core, but it doesn't just work the abs in isolation," she says. That means you're using your abdominals, but you're also using your arms and legs, back muscles, and glutes. "Crunches are fine, at first, but relatively quickly, you'll have to progress to something else to get that area worked," she says.
Pilates focuses on developing not just the rectus abdominis (top abdominal muscle layer) as a crunch does, but the internal and external obliques (the side abdominals) and the transversus abdominis (the deepest abdominal muscle). And when you do start your weight training and cardio regimen, make sure to stick to it.
This allows you to burn fat throughout the day. Weight training has an after burn effect that helps you to burn calories after the workout, and throughout the day; while cardio will burn a huge amount of calories during the workout. A combination of the two will give you the optimal fat burning rate you need to stay lean.
Also make sure you stay hydrated. When you're completely hydrated, your fat-burning rate will be at it's mot optimum. To speed up your metabolism, drinking at least six glasses of water a day is recommended. And because of this, the less water you drink, the slower your metabolism. The more you drink, the faster.
Now, this next one is a bit simple, and that makes it kind of surprising. Improving your posture can help you on your quest for that washboard. Poor posture is a huge issue for a lot of people, and by slouching your stomach tends to kind of...gather near the waist and puff out. Oddly enough, you can look much leaner by just standing up straighter.
For better posture while standing, align your ears over your shoulders, shoulders over hips, hips over knees, and knees over ankles. Keep the fronts of the shoulders open like a shirt on a hanger, instead of a shirt on a peg. Draw your navel to your spine and keep your weight even on the balls and heels. When you pull back your shoulders, the muscles of your abs pull themselves in. You also open up your lungs more which allows for better, fuller, deeper breathing.
This next tip is pretty painful for most, but needs to be said. Sugars, starches, and salts are your worst enemy when it comes to abs. Not only that, but foods that are high in unhealthy fat and high in carbs. All of these together contribute to high amounts of fat gain, which hide abs from coming out like a warm blanket in water. Sugars, starches, and salts are fine...in strict moderation. No matter how much you work out, your abs will never look their best under a layer of fat.
And when you do cardio, make sure you keep a variety of different workouts to continue to challenge yourself. Sprinting, long distance jogging, swimming, biking, elliptical machine, all of that stuff. Doing them at different intensities for different amounts of time will make sure you're always working your hardest, and all of these work your abs at least a little.
Funny enough, you don't even always need to have a gym membership or access to weights to work your abdominal muscles. Ever heard of "farmer strength"? There's a reason that saying exists, because chores, especially ones done outside, can work your core. Make sure to get all of your raking, hauling, wood cutting, and general yard upkeep done whenever it needs doing for that extra bit of work.
And, of course, the trite but always true; believe in yourself. There are no fast fixes, and most quick fixes will end up being temporary. Never give up, because if you believe you can do it, really believe, not just giving yourself lip service; you will do what it takes and eventual reach that brass ring of a visible four, six, or if you're genetics are great; eight pack abs. You will experience set backs, roadblocks, and frustration, but just remember that you can do it.