The abdominals (rectus abdominis) is a paired muscle running vertically on each side of the anterior wall. The abdominals assist in breathing movements, keeps the intestines and other abdominal organs in place, and helps support the spine will lifting. Now that you're familiar with some of the functions of the abdominal area, let’s talk more about how to attain a flat stomach and clear defined abs.
The most important factor in getting a flat stomach or visible abs is a good nutrition plan. Eating balanced meals that include lean quality protein (lean beef, ground white turkey breast, eggs, chicken, and fish) complex carbohydrates (oatmeal, sweet potatoes, brown rice, and quinoa) and healthy fats are the way to go. Lean sources of protein provide you with the amount of protein needed for recovery. The recommendation for protein consumption for an active individual is .8 grams of protein for each pound you of body weight. For example a 200 lb. person would take in 160 grams of protein or more to maintain muscle mass while losing body fat and also aid in recovery from workouts. Complex carbohydrates are a great source of slow release energy that does not cause an insulin spike which can case carbs to be stored as fat. Generally speaking, carbs should be eaten the first two to three meals along with lean protein and vegetables. The last two meals should consist of lean protein and veggies only. Eating fruit can also be counter-productive because of the high amount of natural sugars most fruits contain. Supplements like probiotics and multivitamins also help with digestion and can help with bloating as well. These supplements should be taken daily for overall digestive health. Water consumption is extremely important. Drink a gallon of water daily and limit consumption of soft drinks and other beverages with high amounts of sugar. Also limit alcohol consumption. Reward yourself with cheat meals two to three times a week. Perhaps on the weekend when out at social events.
Next we’ll discuss a good fitness program that includes resistance training and also cardiovascular training. Contrary to popular belief, doing thousands of crunches and sit-ups is not the most efficient way to have clear defined abs or a flat stomach. The best approach is to train the entire body. During training, you want the majority of your exercises to be compound movements that work more than one muscle group. This allows you to build and tone more than one muscle at a time, while burning more calories than an isolation exercise like crunches. Some example of compound movements are dumbbell or barbell press, dumbbell or barbell rows, push-ups, pull-ups, lunges, deadlifts, and last but not least SQUATS! Each resistance training session should begin with 10 minutes of light to moderate cardiovascular training to get the blood flowing. Then perform some stretching and foam rolling and start the workout. Resistance training should last 30 to 35 minutes. Resistance training should be followed up by 20-25 minutes of intense cardio vascular training. Last you want to cool down and stretch. This process should be repeated 3 to 5 times a week for desired results.
As you can see, there is much more to having a flat stomach or clear defined abs than just doing countless sit-ups. A good nutrition plan that works for you, along with a well-structured exercise program will be the key components in attaining a flat stomach and abs. You need to be patient with yourself and remember like with anything else in life, consistency is key!