BY CAROLYN GALLAGHER
I get asked every day by men and women of all ages, what ab exercises are best to get a flat stomach? My answer is always the same - none of them. Yes, I'm aware that is not the answer anyone wants to hear, but it's an unfortunate truth.
So, if ab exercises aren't the answer to a flatter stomach, then what is?
Here is a foolproof, flatter-stomach plan I’ve developed called the C.H.E.A.T. method.
- Caloric Deficit: Calories in vs. calories out.
- Heavy Weights: Lift heavy weights.
- Enough Protein: Protein is king.
- Ample Rest: You need to sleep!
- Trust the Process: Everything takes time!
You must eat fewer calories than you burn. Maintaining a caloric deficit is a necessity. Processed foods, sugar, alcohol…. all no-no's. Yes, cutting everything out is extremely difficult and involves a ton of self-control and discipline, but it is doable. Your goal has to be more important than treats.
"Heavy" is a relative term. What's heavy to me is light to my training partner, so don't be frightened by this term. Heavy is doing the 10lb Dumbbell when you've done 8lbs for 6 months. For women (I can't say this enough) lifting heavier weights will not make you look like a man. In fact, it actually helps build and enhance your feminine curves! Don't be scared! Also, in the beginning, do not do a million ab exercises as it will not help you. Work on core strength and stability instead. By focusing on this you will build a solid foundation for all your training, which will give you better results in the long run.
Eating is the number one battle for any weight loss or weight gain goal. Eating often, finding what macronutrient ratios work best for your goals and lifestyle is the hardest struggle you will find in any weightlifting regimen. It's a process and everyone is different. You have to use trial and error to find what works best for you, your body and your lifestyle. But the first thing to look at is your protein intake. Most Americans eat far less protein than is necessary to fuel a weight-based workout routine. A good rule to base your intake off of is eating 1g of protein per 1lb you weigh for light muscle growth/maintenance. For example, a 150lbs person should eat 150g of protein spread out between 4-6 meals and snacks per day. Please understand that this is just a general rule and will need to be adjusted to your personal goals and activity levels.
Your body needs sleep. An average adult needs at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night, but very few actually get it. Muscles and organs are repaired during sleep, so ensuring you’re resting is detrimental to your recovery. It also affects stress levels, mood, attention span, and memory. Yes, you're busy…. I get it but try to get that little bit extra each night and you will notice a huge difference in not only your workouts but overall mood and day. To help wind down for bed it is best to turn off all screens - yes that means your phone or iPad. Also, no TV an hour before bed, instead take a calming bath or do some light reading or meditation. These are all ways to help you shut off your mind, relieve any stress from the day, and prepare for a proper rest.
Trust the Process: "Rome wasn't built in a day" and that stomach didn't appear overnight. So stop expecting to suddenly wake up with a six pack after only a few weeks of a new routine. Just remember that everything that is worth having takes time. Small, permanent, manageable lifestyle changes add up and the pounds you lose from those changes are not only all FAT they are permanent.
So maybe my CHEAT wasn't 100% what you were hoping for. But it is real. It is the truth. Health and wellness are physical, emotional and mental. My goal here is to provide you with information so you have the power to help yourself. I hope to also provide you with clarity, honesty, and balance in your health and fitness goals.