Why your flat tummy workout isn't working and tips that actually will

Nicola McCafferty
Yahoo Lifestyle3 May 2013

Most of us don't stress if we've got an inch to pinch around our waistlines in the winter.

But if there's one time of year that we can't hide the areas of our bodies that we're feeling insecure over, it's the summer.

Research has uncovered that more than 80 per cent of women want to lose weight ahead of bikini season, revealing the extent of how many women feel insecure in a two-piece.

[Related: Your ultimate head-to-toe bikini workout plan]

In fact, another survey showed that more women would actually prefer to achieve their weight loss goals than get a pay rise at work.

Add this to the thousands of pictures of celebrities flaunting their toned abs on the beach and it's a wonder any of us ever go on a summer holiday - let alone leave the house.

Most of our body insecurities are a result of spending too long trawling the internet looking at picture-perfect celeb bodies that, in turn, mean we put unrealistic expectations on ourselves.

Yet realistic goals that encourage us to hit the gym or set ourselves challenges, such as running a 10k race or even a marathon, are healthy ideals that boost our mental, as well as physical wellbeing.

So, when you beat yourself up about not having abs to rival Rihanna's ahead of your summer getaway, then stop, right now.

As what will make you feel a lot better, is knowing how to get the best out of our current tummy-targeting workout.

According to Maxitone's leading nutritionist, Sharmain Davis, the reason we struggle so much with this area is because we largely focus on how many sit-ups or crunches we can do.

[Related: Feel good in your bikini without feeling deprived]

Instead, what we should be doing, is focus on the quality of the workout and on our own nutrition.

Drinking two to three litres of water a day, eating a diet rich in lean protein and doing short bursts of intense exercise are some of the best ways to get a toned tum.

Here, she reveals her top 10 tips for a toned tummy without spending hours in the gym that'll promise to make you feel better than ever about yourself too.

1.     Stay hydrated and eat regularly
To sculpt a firm, slender body it's important to start drinking two to three litres of water and eat five to six small, protein rich meals to support slender toning.
2.     Create a calorie deficit
Toning up involves reducing body fat (for many women) so you'll need to burn more calories than you're eating, by exercising regularly and controlling your calorie intake (don't consume less than 1500 calories per day).
3.     Increase high intensity training
The key to high intensity training is to work as hard as you can, not train for hours at a low intensity. By doing this you will increase the number of calories burned both during and after exercise.
4.     Don’t be afraid of weights

Using bodyweight exercises, free weights, barbell, kettlebell and cable exercises will help you slim down by optimising your metabolism and increase your body’s fat burning capabilities.

5.     Consume quality lean protein in each meal
Protein is essential to help lift and shape your body and get results from exercise. Protein is really important when you are controlling your calories, because muscle tissue can be used as energy. You should boost your intake of lean proteins including chicken breast, fish, low fat diary and other lean meats. Protein also reduces hunger pangs making you less likely to snack.
6.     Use Fitness Nutrition Products
Certain nutrition products are ideal to help increase alertness, support energy production and maintain a stable blood sugar level. They are also great for giving you the vitamins and minerals you need when you’re constantly on the go.
7.     Work your ab muscles
To flatten your stomach you will need to work you ab muscles 2-3 times per week but remember it’s about quality, not quantity.
8.     Braced loaded crunch (2-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions)
– pulling your abs in during a crunch makes the exercise less effective!
To do a braced loaded crunch you need to lie on your back while holding a dumbbell across your upper chest (or at arm’s length above your body), curl yourself up. Select a load that will allow you to do 8-12 reps in good form. Hold the contraction for 2-3 seconds at the top of each repetition. Lower to the start position and repeat.
9.     Reverse swiss ball crunch (2-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions) - The reverse swiss ball crunch is another great exercise for the abs. Do a reverse curl on a swiss ball as your core muscles will work hard to keep you stable on the ball. You should hold on to a fixed immovable object, bend the knees and keep them bent throughout the movement. To initiate the exercise, roll your hips towards your head until your abdominal muscles are fully contracted. Return to the start position and repeat.
10.  Side plank (Hold for 20 to 60 seconds, lower and repeat on the other side. Perform 2-3 sets) – A great exercise for your oblique’s (the muscles on the side of your torso) If you’re new to this exercise you need to bridge your torso between the elbow and the knees. Once you’ve mastered the basic move, the challenge is increased by bridging using the elbow and the feet. Make your muscles work even harder by placing the upper leg and foot in front of the lower leg and foot.

To find out more please visit www.maxitone.com.

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