It's one of the most common fitness goals for women.
Here's a tip: You can't go to the corner of the gym and do crunches until you're ready to throw up and expect to get flat abs...
even if you do it 7 days a week.
And who would want to do that, anyway? Why doesn't this approach work? Because muscle doesn't own the fat on top of it.
One more time: Muscle doesn't own the fat on top of it.
Think about it.
If you see a body builder standing in front of the mirror doing bicep curls, what do you think his goal is? I'll give you a hint.
Do you think he is trying to make his bicep bigger or smaller? Why bigger, of course! So why is it, then, that so many people believe they can make their stomach smaller by working their abdominal muscles? Hopefully a light bulb just came on in your head.
HOW DO YOU GET THAT LEAN LOOK? By having the right body composition.
A lean look (and six-pack abs) come from having low body fat.
Truth is, everyone has a six pack.
Some just have more layers of fat covering it than others.
The key to getting a flat stomach is to set your sites on having less body fat so that your six pack can show.
You have three choices for defining your fitness goals as it relates to body composition.
You can lose fat, build muscle, or maintain your body.
There is a big difference between muscle and fat.
For starters, one pound of muscle burns 35 - 75 calories a day.
One pound of fat burns 8 calories per day.
Whoa! That's what "muscle is calorie-burning machinery" means.
Secondly, fat doesn't turn into muscle.
They are two different things.
If you want six-pack abs, your goal is to lose body fat.
To lose body fat, you must be in a caloric deficit.
That simply means taking in less calories every day than you spend in energy.
While you're doing that, you want to maintain your muscle mass with resistance training.
This is when fat melts away from your body, effectively changing your body composition.
HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN A CALORIC DEFICIT? You can lower your caloric intake and/or increase your caloric output.
The basic formula for figuring caloric intake for a deficit is your current weight in pounds times 15 minus 500 equals the number of calories to eat per day.
[Current Weight x 15 - 500 = Daily Caloric Intake] This is a basic formula that you may need to adjust based on your activity level and your current body composition (now that you know the difference between calories burned by muscle versus calories burned by fat).
Any activity you can add to your daily routine will help increase your caloric deficit and give your body fat no choice but to melt.
It doesn't hurt to work your abs.
Your abs are part of your core and a strong core will help you lessen the risk of injury and help you be stronger for your everyday life in and out of the gym.
And once you see your six-pack starting to emerge, you will want them to "pop" and be more defined.
However, crunches and ab machines are not the secret weapon for fighting belly bulge.
Monitoring the amount of calories you eat is the key.
Simply put, you can't out-exercise a bad diet.