Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Truth About Getting Flat Abs

Ask Glen!

Todays question comes from my cousin in Maryland

Q. How do I get a 8 pack ( Abs )

Are you wasting your time?

A. You want flat abs. I know this because of the constant emails, the forum posts and from the fact that the number one search term on my site each and every week is 'Abs.' One post that made me stop and think was this one: "I've been working on my lower belly pooch for about 2.5 years and it still won't go away even though I have a good diet." That's a long time, but I'll bet many of you have been working at it even longer. If that's the case, have you ever wondered why you persist? Is there anything in life you'd stay with for that long when you've failed at it?

Despite the facts, many people still think they can get flat abs if they just keep doing enough ab exercises. In other words, we think we can't reach this goal because we're doing doing something wrong. The truth is, getting eight-pack abs is hard and, if you haven't seen yours yet, maybe it's not what you're doing that's the problem.

The Myth That Wouldn't Die

If you've been doing crunches forever and are miffed that you still don't have flat abs, you're no doubt operating under what I consider the biggest myth of weight loss in existence (a.k.a. The Myth That Wouldn't Die): That you can do an exercise for a certain area of your body and get rid of the fat there.

Why else would you spend so much time doing crunches if you didn't believe they would burn the fat off your belly? And it's no wonder we still think this...pick up any popular fitness magazine and you'll find plenty of headlines to feed that belief. For example, in the February issue of Fitness Magazine, the giant title on the front cover? "Banish Belly Fat - Tone, tighten , trim in just 7 moves." 7 moves to flat abs? Who wouldn't want that? But it's these kinds of headlines that keep us stuck in the same place for months and years, trying the same thing over and over and thinking we'll finally get it right.

The truth is,eight-pack abs are difficult to get. I've been exercising for 30 years ( on and off ) and consider myself in excellent shape for my age. I don't have a six-pack and never have (and not for lack of trying). It took me years to understand that goal wasn't right for me and, when I finally did, my life changed for the better. What about you? Is it time to let go of old goals and set new ones? Maybe it'll help to get a clear idea of what it takes to get flat abs.

What You Really Need for Flat Abs

Despite what you think, ab exercises are NOT the number one thing you need to do for flat abs. In fact, getting flat abs requires hard work, commitment and something else you have no control over: cooperative genes.

The only way to get flat abs is to lose body fat and you already know what that requires:

1. Regular cardio exercise
2. Strength Training for the ENTIRE BODY (treating the abs just like any other muscle in the body)
3. A healthy, low-calorie diet

You must get all three of these (especially your diet) right on a consistent basis in order to even get close to flat abs. And, something else important: If you've lost body fat and you still don't have flat abs, don't be terribly surprised. Many of us will never see that six-pack because:

  • The body fat level required to get flat abs is lower than you can sustain with your current lifestyle/schedule, or
  • The body fat level required is lower than is healthy for your body to function.

So, even if you follow a perfect program and a perfect diet, flat abs still may elude you. Does that mean you should give up? You shouldn't give up on exercise but, maybe, giving up the ideal of eight-pack abs is exactly what you need to make your life better.

Giving Up on the 'Ideal'

Now you know the truth: The goal to get flat abs may:

  • Require more exercise than your schedule will allow and more than you can mentally handle
  • Require more attention to your diet than you're willing/able to expend
  • Require more strict adherence to diet/and exercise than you have the time or energy to spare
  • Not be in your genetic cards

If that's the case, maybe it's time to get rid of that goal. It may seem foreign to imagine an exercise life without it, but it's possible and tossing that goal may actually be a relief, allowing you to focus on what you CAN change.

Now's the time to ask yourself:

  • Do I really want flat abs?
  • Am I willing to work as hard as I need to to get them?
  • If I will work that hard, am I willing to accept that it still may not happen, even if I do everything right?
  • If I did get six-pack abs, what will that change in my life? What will flat abs actually do for me?
  • What would happen if I let go of this ideal and focused on other goals?

Accepting that your body works as a whole and not in pieces and parts is the first step towards releasing that ideal body that lurks in your mind and embracing the one you have now--belly flab and all. Maybe it's time to finally let that goal go and realize you aren't a failure for not reaching it. If an eight pack is not in your future then settle for a six or four pack!

Please consult your physician before starting any diet or exercise program

Wishing You Great Health,

Glen Edward Mitchell

Got a question? Ask Glen!

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Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States
Is the Founder of Fitness Builders 4 Life,the WorkOut GEM,G350,G180, G90, Eat 4 Life, Clean, Lean & Mean & Ask Glen. The mission of the Fitness Builders is to provide the community with health education and to empower people to change unhealthy lifestyles thereby increasing life expectancy. By educating the community on healthier lifestyle practices it is the intent of Fitness Builders to reduce the ravages of obesity, heart disease, cancer and other lifestyle or self inflicted diseases. Glen is also a AMA Certified Nutrition Specialist and a ACE, ACSM, NASM Certified Personal Trainer has 30+ years in Sports, Exercise Science and Nutritional Food Management, Learning and Mentoring Men and Women on a more Mental & Physical Healthy Life Style consisting of a low fat, low salt, Low carbohydrate, high protein, organic nutrition which also includes moderate exercise and mental awareness. Stay Informed, Live long and be Mentally and Physically Healthy! Any questions? Ask Glen!

Any Questions? Ask Glen!