Tag archive: muscle and strength

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Where Are My Abs? How To Build A Great Abdominal Foundation!

This article was written for Muscle and Strength, look for it now in the January 2012 issue of Natural Muscle Magazine!

When people start working out, they almost invariably go straight for their abs. And perhaps it is reasonable – the abdominal area is where people are most acutely aware of carrying extra weight, bloat, or softness, and it is the spot almost all people want to see direct improvement.

What’s more, having a great set of abs is the primary marker of ‘fitness’ in the general world. And when the abs don’t seem to be improving any more drastically than the rest of the body despite receiving the most attention, people get discouraged and begin to think that perhaps they are just not genetically capable of building a tight, lean six pack.

However, as we should all know, there is no effective way to spot-fix a body part. Regardless of how manycrunches you may do, an isolated focus is an ineffective way to change your body, especially when it comes to your midsection.

In order to train your abs for the best results, a full-body approach is necessary. In fact, if you are carrying extra weight in your abdominal area, chances are it is not the only culprit. Bearing this in mind, there are two key concepts that are crucial to building a strong foundation for ripped abs: Engage, and Diet.

Engage:

Rather than going straight for the crunches, consider that the most effective way to see improvement in your abdominal areas is to hold off on direct and exclusive ab exercises until you have begun to reduce your overall body fat percentage. Why? Like all other forms of resistance work, ab exercise increases the growth of muscle, and muscle under fat has a tendency to look like more bulk.

This is why some people get discouraged with their middle thickness despite heavy ab workouts – they have the muscle, but the fat overtop is hiding their achievement. This is not to say ‘neglect your abs entirely until later on’, as this would be a serious detriment to your fitness goals. Strong core muscles (Abs, obliques, back, glutes, etc) are vital to all other types of workouts — without them, you could seriously injure yourself, especially while lifting.

So what do you do? You engage. Engage your core muscles in everything you do. Squeeze your core tight when you jog, when you squat, when you do jumping jacks, when you do push ups, when you lift weights, when you do pull ups, when you do ALL types of workouts. If you are doing squats and not even thinking about your abs, you are missing out on the full potential of what that move can do for your body! Is it not better to work more at once?

Abdominal engagement can be done anywhere – in the office, at home while cooking dinner, or even while enjoying your favourite evening TV show. By doing so, the strength in all your core muscles, especially your abs, will start to improve, while you are working on melting the fat from all areas of your body, and building a nice frame of lean muscle. You will be surprised, when they softness burns away, that you have a nicer, flatter stomach to work with, and finally give that extra attention to.

Diet:

Here, the old adage of “abs are made in the kitchen” truly needs to be stressed! What you eat and how you eat are fundamental to the aesthetic results of your midsection; if your diet is not en pointe, shredded abs are not going to develop. Even the fittest of people will noticeably bloat and soften when they consume something full of sugar, fat or sodium – and this shows most in the midsection.

It must be emphasized that a diet full of processed, sugary foods will be a serious detriment to the fat burning process that will uncover your strong, toned abs. If you want to have a great six-pack, your focus needs to be on eating clean, eating at proper intervals, and most importantly, eating enough! If you’re not getting enough calories to support your caloric burn and exercise activity, your body will begin to cling to fat as a survival instinct.

Eating smaller, more frequent meals that comprise of lean proteins, whole wheat or whole grain complex carbohydrates and bountiful portions of veggies are the best way to ensure that you are left feeling satisfied and energized with every meal, while still shedding fat from your midsection to reveal your abdominal foundation. So never forget to think about what you are eating, and how that one thing will reflect on your body, especially when you want to see firm, taut abs.

Overall, these two key concepts are crucial for building the best, strongest and most aesthetic foundation for your midsection. Utilizing these tricks will help you to sculpt your abs into the six pack of your dreams!

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Tips for Getting Through the Holidays!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This article was written for Muscle and Strength

The advent of Thanksgiving commences the holiday season; a time for togetherness, giving, and of course, lots of delicious dinners and desserts. What is a health oriented individual to do when it seems everyone else is indulging?

The holiday season is a difficult time to stick to health goals as we all know — certainly contributing to the upcoming New Years’ Resolutions surrounding wellness. But this does not mean we should throw our carefully crafted discipline to the wind! So in light of the approaching holiday challenges, I present to you my survival tips for making it through the holidays with a clear conscience, no guilt or regrets, and less worries for your waistline.

Don’t go hungry. Temptation is much easier to resist if your stomach is not growling at you. Save overindulging later by eating breakfast and lunch on holiday dinner days. This way, you will not feel ravenous while selecting what you put on your plate.

Watch portion sizes. Follow the Plate Proportion Rule:Protein and carbs should make up 1/4 of your plate, whereas veggies should take up half. By setting a visual guideline for yourself, you will prevent overindulging on filler such as mashed potatoes and gravy, and ensure you get a serving of vegetables that you may have otherwise passed on. Fill your plate reasonably, and avoid seconds. The second helping will not taste better than the first!

Be condiment conscious. Have your vegetables without the cheese sauce and your meat without the skin or fat. The slimmer alternatives are just as delicious, and you will save an enormous amount of calories. Do not add extra salt, and you will avoid bloat. NO Gravy! Gravy is as empty in nutritional value as a soda, and just as potent in calorie content. Avoid!

Eat slowly. Allow your mind the time it requires to communicate appetite satiety to the rest of your body. Holidays are often culprits of overeating, given the tendency to enjoy as much as we can, as quickly as we can. Everyone has had the experience afterwards of “I ate too much!” Avoid this by savoring your food, and reap the rewards.

Do not consume empty calories. Liquids, such as wine, beer, juice and soda, contain no nutritional value. Each is filled with sugar and calories that we often not even considered when we eat. Save these calories for the food; stick with water. Not only will you be able to enjoy more, but water consumption will help you feel more full.

Stick to your guns. Aunt Mabel shouldn’t guilt you into having her famous cheesy potatoes if they are not part of what you have allotted for your planned plate. Remember that these are your goals, and what someone else does, or says, does not affect you. Only you have the power to improve yourself. Do not give that up!

Have some. Just be wise. Remember that indulging every now and then is perfectly acceptable! In fact, it has been shown that those who ‘cheat’ occasionally, are more likely to stick to their diets in the long run. This is a result of satisfaction; it is easy to resent your healthy choices if you receive no enjoyment.

Like a child who knows good behavior will earn him periodic privileges, we can accept our parameters, if the payoff is worth it. In the end, if you choose this option, just be wise about your choices. The piece of pie may not turf your results, but a whole pie and whipped cream might. Be reasonable.

To conclude, I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season, and I look forward to any comments or tips you might have about how you make it through the holidays in a healthy way!

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