One of the most sought-after goals in the fitness world is slimming down the mid-region and getting a shredded six-pack of abs!
Traditionally, training to get a six-pack was a very male-orientated goal. However, in recent years, the boom of bodybuilding and the fitness world in general has empowered women to also aim for more muscular physiques, as per the “strong not skinny” movement.
This has inspired women to go after more strength-focused body goals as opposed to simply losing fat, which has in-turn busted lots of myths around anyone aiming to achieve a lean physique.
Most of us can get a six-pack of abs if we work for it. Though, upon Google searching “how to get a six-pack”, you’ll be shown thousands of different ab workouts that allegedly work to help you achieve just that.
Though, this is not entirely accurate. As it turns out, doing 500 sit-ups per day will not result in you getting a six-pack - It is simply not possible to target fat loss in this way.
To achieve a six-pack, you must lose the layer of subcutaneous fat on your abdominal region. Generally, most people would actually have to be a relatively low body fat percentage to achieve such a lean look, especially long-term.
But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible!
So, it’s true what they say - “abs are made in the kitchen” - meaning that we must work to lose body fat and workout to build and tone our muscles in order to achieve a lean abdominal region.
Let’s take a delve into how fat loss works, how to burn more fat, and how to tone up your abdominals!
The Fat Burning Process
As we have mentioned, it’s not possible to target fat loss. Spot reduction is unfortunately a myth!
The approach to losing abdominal fat is actually the same approach as losing butt fat, arm fat, leg fat, and any other fat. When you put strategies in place to lose fat, you will actually lose fat everywhere on your body, not just one specific region.
Though, don’t get us wrong, losing belly fat is one of the most stubborn regions to lose fat for many people.
Losing fat in general is already a difficult goal, but to lose stubborn fat, it requires extra dedication, patience, and fine-tuning of the diet and lifestyle.
So, how do we lose fat?
The fundamental concept of body weight management is energy balance, or better known as calories in vs calories out.
A Quick Note on Calories:
Calories refer to the energy we get from consuming food and drink, as well as the energy our bodies use to survive and physically move around.
You see calories listed under the nutritional information on all packaged foods, and they are often the focus of many diets such as Keto, intermittent fasting, and Zone.
Each of us burns a different number of calories each day, and this number is influenced by our weight, height, genetics, sex, and physical activity.
To put it simply, we must burn more calories than what we eat to lose fat and eat more calories than we burn to gain fat.
So, the only way to lose fat is to manipulate our calorie intake and our calorie expenditure - i.e., eat less and move more.
To do this, many of us choose to follow restrictive diets and partake in rigorous exercise programs to lose as much fat as quickly as possible.
This isn’t the approach you want to take if you want to keep off the fat you lose!
Unsustainable approaches like this often result in the original weight lost being regained, and then some.
The key to long-term, effective, and sustainable fat loss is simply adjusting your current diet and lifestyle.
Let’s go over some example strategies to help you do just that!
How to Burn Fat
- Adjust your portion sizes
Slightly reduce the quantity of food you’re currently eating by reducing your portion sizes and snacking less frequently. Making small dietary adjustments like this can actually make or break fat loss!
- Eat less processed foods and more whole foods
The biggest culprit of fat gain is the over-consumption of high-calorie, highly processed foods such as sweets, cakes, biscuits, and takeaways.
While these delicious foods do have a place in the diet, it’s important to moderate the intake and eat MOSTLY whole foods in the form of quality protein sources, fruit, vegetables, and good sources of fiber!
- Boost your physical activity
To put it simply, the more we move, the more calories we burn!
Increase your daily movement and step count and follow an exercise program you enjoy which incorporates resistance training to support your muscle toning goals.
How to Burn Abdominal Fat and Tone Your Abs
As we have established, it’s impossible to target fat loss. To lose fat anywhere on our body, the above principles and strategies will always apply, no matter where you want to lose fat!
However, it’s important not to focus solely on fat loss if you want to achieve a lean physique. While fat loss plays a huge role, resistance training also plays a secondary role, which further complements a lean-looking body.
Resistance training is a must if you want to grow, sculpt, and tone your muscles. Incorporating core workouts into your training program a few times a week will help to target muscle toning in your abdominal region.
Exercises such as sit-ups, crunches, reverse crunches, planks, leg raises, and V-sits are all great movements to include in your core workouts.
Not only will these exercises help tone your abs, but they will also help strengthen your core. This in-turn will strengthen the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips, leading to better balance and stability.
Burning abdominal fat works under the same principle as burning fat from any body part. A calorie deficit (burning more calories than you eat) is the simple answer to fat loss.
A calorie deficit can be achieved by making changes to your diet and lifestyle that result in both consuming less food and burning more energy through increased movement.
This approach will help burn all-over and abdominal fat, and combined with a resistance training program and regular core workouts, you will achieve a more toned and sculpted abdominal region!