By: Rodney Harris, CPT & Certified Weight Management Specialist
Contributing Writer: Kira Hamilton, CPT, Fitness Model & Professional Dancer
If you have been part of a gym for awhile now (at least 6 months consistently) you will see a lot of individuals doing the following routine to get abs or lose belly fat:
20-60 minutes of low-moderate intensity cardio
Ab crunch machine
Torso Twist Machine
Ab Crunch Machine
Another 20-60 minutes of cardio
That’s it! Why are they doing this? Most would tell you,”I want to lose my stomach” or “I want abs”. Now those of us who have some basic knowledge of the way the body works, we know that this approach is not an ideal approach to achieving your goal. Hence this is why this article is called “The Cardio and Abs Trap”. There are many individuals who fall into this trap by thinking by doing only cardio and abs, they will get abs. I also once fell for this a few years ago before I became a full time trainer and it made my body look horrible so this is my suggestion for you if you are doing this, stop it now! Like right now!
Oh you are not convinced. You are still doing this routine hoping to get your abs? Ok fine I have to get the big guns now. You see the young lady on the cover of this article with the nice set of abs? That’s Kira Hamilton, Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Model and she is going to share some of her tips and her approach to getting abs and an overall stronger physique that will help you think about the way you approach getting abs.
Photo by: Todd Ferrante
It’s a common misconception that to obtain a defined abdomen you have to participate in “30 day ab challenges” or perform excessive amounts of crunches. This is actually pretty far from the truth. Diet is the most important aspect of obtaining abs. When you consume excess amounts of sugar and refined carbohydrates your body will convert it to fat and store it, particularly in places like your abdomen. By removing these items from diet I have not only significantly decreased the likelihood of storing fat but also given my body the opportunity to lose it. It doesn’t matter how many ab exercises you perform, if you are still carrying a significant amount of body fat in your abdomen you will never see the results. When it comes to working out, I also rarely do exercises specific to working my abs. I find that my abdomen naturally engages while performing strength training exercises and I have gotten better results from that then I have with crunches. Your entire abdomen engages when you perform strength training exercises as a way to help you balance. This kind of functional ab workout is much better than crunches which only work a portion of your abs and not the entire core. You will find that with strength training and healthy eating you can transform your body and may only need to perform cardio for cardiovascular health or personal enjoyment. Patience is key and there is no quick way to fitness or the body of your dreams. Don’t get caught in the “Cardio and Abs Trap”. It’s an everyday journey that can be rewarding both when you look in the mirror and when you get up in the morning feeling great because you are one step closer to your goals.