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October 11th, 2007

When I sit down with a potential client for the first time I always ask them what they want to achieve. The most common reply I get is “I’d like to lose a few pounds and get a flat stomach” or “I’d like to get rid of this” while the person is holding their abdomen and emphasising the excess fat around their middle.

Before I explain how we’re going to do this, I always clarify the objective and make it into a SMART goal. In other words it has to be specific, measurable, achievable realistic and time dependent.

Most people think that the best way to a flatter, firmer stomach is to perform loads and loads of abdominal exercises. In fact, a whole business has developed around the best way to get a “six pack”.

You can buy shed loads of magazines, books, DVD’s and exercise equipment that all promises you that great “six pack” look. However, if you watch an ad on television, then invariably they put a disclaimer along the lines of “Results can only be achieved as part of a calorie controlled diet”.

So how do you get a flatter firmer stomach? The best way I’ve found to get a flat stomach or that “six pack” look is to attack it on three fronts. These are:

  • Cardio work (to lose fat and speed up your metabolism)
  • Resistance work (to shape, tone, sculpt and defined your muscles)
  • Diet (reduce saturated fat, increase fibre and cut down on bad carbs)

Basically, you need to reduce your overall body fat percentage. To do this, I’d recommend that you take 30 minutes of moderate cardio exercise on most days of the week. This will help to burn your natural stores of body fat and speed up your metabolism.

Improving your muscle definition will help you to burn more calories at rest. Did you know that 1 kg (2.2 lbs) of muscle will burn 77 kcals per day. Therefore you should also follow a total body resistance workout and improve your muscle definition.

Finally, watch what you eat. Reduce the amount of saturated fats in your diet, increase the amount of fibre and cut down on bad carbohydrates. Limit the amount of white bread, pasta and potato or eat brown rice and whole wheat bread instead.

You should follow an abdominal program which will help to shape and tone your muscles. Then when you start to lose the fat around your stomach it will reveal your “six pack”.

Remember, it’s best to do your ab training at the end of your cardio workout rather than at the beginning. This is because the ab muscles help to stabilize your back and you can pre-exhaust them if you do your ab exercises first.

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