I don’t typically get into these monthly themes but I saw something about Fab Ab February the other day and it reminded me that I really have some work to do to get my core in the shape I desire it to be in. I’m not about to bust out of my pants or anything but I have noticed that my clothes are as comfortable lately. So, for the month of February (what’s left of it) I’ll be sharing some tips on for getting our abs (and the rest of our core) looking and feeling strong and lean! And I’ll be doing the work with you!
There are multiple factors that come into play when we talk about about a strong/lean/flat stomach. Doing situps and the sorts will help but what you eat (gasp) and what you do for cardio (another gasp) are huge proponents in how much fat vs muscle you store on your body. When it comes to burning fat, our bodies don’t let us choose specific areas. For example, I want to lose some fat off my core but there really isn’t a way to fat blast that area (at least not one that doesn’t involve knives, tubes, and nastiness being sucked off your body). If you want to lose fat on my stomach or anywhere else for that matter, you need to focus fat burning as a whole.
One of the many benefits of endurance training is that you spend a lot of time in the fat burning zone. Fat makes for good fuel on activities that last a few hours–long runs, cycles, hiking, etc.
My first tip might seem kind of boring/obvious/annoying to you but if you want to burn fat and have fab abs (interchangeable with ass, thighs, arms) you’ll have to put in some cardio time. I’m not saying you need to venture out on 4 hour runs but I am saying that for about the first 45 minutes of working out, you mostly burn carbohydrates (that pasta bowl you had for dinner or that cereal and fruit you had for breakfast). We have to get past the carb burning zone and train our bodies to use fat as fuel.
I aim to keep my weekly cardio (running or cycling for me) between 50-90 minutes. Once a week, I go long (2-4 hours–work up to it though!). The longer the workout, the lower the intensity. These long, low intensity workouts rely on fat stores to keep you going! So once you get past those first 45 (approximately) your body is making fat withdrawals with every step! Over time, your body becomes more and more efficient at burning fat.
But wait a minute, I’m running 45-55 miles a week, how come I’ve developed unwanted fat stores on my core? This is a story for another day. This tip probably isn’t the area I need to focus on but don’t you worry, I’ll reveal my weakness to you soon!
So, get out there and start adding time to your cardio workouts! Grab a friend, an ipod, your dog, whatever gets you motivated and go loooooonnnggg!
*disclaimer: add 10-30 minutes to each of your long workouts. If your long walk/run/cycle/hike is currently 60 minutes. You’re next one should be about 70-80. Once you get up to several hours (all day hike? yes please), adding 30 minutes will be a breeze.