USANA is excited to present the first of six articles provided by well-renowned athlete and fitness expert, Obi Obadike. He will be providing us useful nutrition and fitness advice over the next six months to help get us on the path to the body we’ve always wanted.
Be sure to check back next week as Obi demonstrates the details of this article on video. Enjoy!
by Obi Obadike
Everyone wants to know what the secret is to obtaining great looking abs. Well, let me tell you — there is no secret.
How many times have you seen an infomercial showing you how easy it is to get great looking abs by simply using some magic machine? If it were that easy, everyone would have killer abs. But, unfortunately, that’s not reality.
Have you ever heard the saying, “Abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym?” Let’s talk about what that actually means.
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Approximately 80 percent of being lean is maintaining a clean, healthy, balanced diet and has nothing to do with how many crunches you perform a day.
The fact is, how your abdominal area appears is indicative of how lean your body fat is. In other words, you’ve gotta drop the fat around your belly for your abs to appear.
If all you do are sit-ups and crunches — and your diet is horrible — you are simply building muscle under the fat.
So don’t be fooled by the term, “spot reduction.” Implementing abs exercises alone is not going to help you remove the fat in that specific area.
Tip 1: Implement Weight + Cardio Training
You’ll want to incorporate both weight and cardio training into your routine to burn calories daily, while reducing body fat.
Anaerobic (high intensity) and aerobic (low intensity) training go hand-in-hand towards fat loss.
For anaerobic exercise, I recommend sprinting, high-intensity interval training, powerlifting and most athletic sports.
For aerobic or low intensity exercise, try swimming, cycling, climbing stairs, or using a treadmill or elliptical.
Not only will you work off calories, but your abs will get worked indirectly as these muscles and your other core muscles will engage with your limbs to generate power and control force.
It’s important to follow a balanced diet, combined with a high level of protein and a moderate to low level of carbs and fats in order to reveal your abs.
The International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) recommends a starting macronutrient ratio of 35 percent protein, 25 percent carbs and 40 percent fats for an endomorphic (or naturally thicker) body type seeking to lose a considerable amount of body fat. But you’ll need to adjust this ratio for your individual body type.
Keep in mind, your macronutrient ratio will change from time-to-time based on diet plateaus. However, for someone who is trying to lose enough weight to see their abs, I advocate a 10 to 12 calorie per pound diet for fat-loss/weight-loss.
Just remember, if you follow a bad diet, it will be difficult for your abs to show through unless you have a naturally fast metabolism or possess great genetics.
Tip 3: Vary Your Exercises
Be sure to change up your abs routine every week. Some great abs exercises you can implement are sit-ups, kneeling cable crunches, planks, leg raises, leg lifts, Russian twists, and bicycles.
Your routine should work different parts of your core, such as your rectus abdominis (abs) or your internal or external oblique (obliques).
I recommend about three to four different abs exercises every other day or two to three days a week.
Tip 4: Avoid Certain Foods
Stay away from sugary high starch/high glycemic foods as well as foods that are high in sodium.
Also avoid foods that are high in fat and carbs because each may contribute to fat gain, which will prevent those abs from shining through.
Healthy foods you should be consuming on a daily basis for fat loss and/or weight loss are baked/broiled chicken breasts, turkey breasts, and fish, as well as green veggies, brown rice, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, etc.
Tip 5: Understand The Truths and Myths About Abs
By having an understanding of the myths and truths about abdominal training, you will train smarter.
Obtaining great abs is not about how many sit-ups or crunches you do — although it doesn’t hurt — but about how lean you are.
Men should aim for a body fat level of at least 12 percent and under to reveal their abs. For women, a body fat level of at least 15 percent and under is necessary (Note: female body fat levels under 10 percent can be detrimental to a woman’s health).
Hard-core professional athletes aspire to achieve these body fat levels, but must be mindful of the risks and monitor their health accordingly.
Tip 6: Be Sensible
I encourage you not to go on any silly crash diets or starve yourself to lose weight.
Famishing your body will force it to go into starvation mode and shut down your metabolism, potentially doing serious damage.
Also, don’t go too crazy with cardio. Even if you did three hours of cardio a day, you wouldn’t lose weight any faster than the next person. In fact, doing an extreme amount of cardio will cause you to burn more of your lean muscle mass and slow your fat loss process, as opposed to speeding it up.
Tip 7: Believe In Yourself
If you don’t believe you can do it, you won’t. The mind is much more powerful than anything you do physically.
If you believe you can do it subconsciously, you will do everything necessary in your power to attain that goal. Visualize eating good, healthy food as well as doing cardio and lifting weights. After you have imagined yourself doing it, you’ll have the confidence to execute your plan.
Tip 8: Enjoy a Cheat Meal
It’s actually a good idea to have one cheat meal a week to use as a reward for eating healthy the other six days of the week.
This will not effect your goal of getting great looking abs, and may help you psychologically. The best time to consume a cheat meal is right after a workout — called the post-workout window — because your body will absorb it better.
Tip 9: Feel The Exercise
When you are training your abs, make sure you feel the exercises. If you don’t feel the contraction, you probably aren’t doing the exercise right and you may need to readjust your technique.
It is important to sense the muscle working, as that will provide additional stimulation and neural feedback. Do not rush when executing an abs exercise. Instead, perform the exercise slowly to feel the abs muscle contracting.
Tip 10: Rest
Although it is important to train hard and be consistent, you still need to rest your body.
Some people think the more time you spend in the gym, the better your body will become. That’s just not the case because “living at the gym” can actually be quite counterproductive.
What happens is you risk over-training. While at rest, your body builds muscle instead of tearing down your muscles’ protein while training.
Giving yourself two days rest after a hard week of training will help your body recover and repair, and most importantly, help you attain the abs you’ve always wanted.
References: International Sports Sciences Association- Berardi, John, PhD, Andrews, Ryan, MS/MA, RD. “Nutrition: The Complete Guide”. www.ISSAonline.edu PG. 347
Obi Obadike, B.A, B.S, M.S., CFT, SFN, is a former top Division I collegiate sprinter at Cal State Fullerton. He is still considered one of the fastest men in the history of the school. After suffering hamstring injuries for half of his collegiate career, he moved onto sports modeling. In just a short time, Obi established himself as one of the top male fitness models, personalities and experts in the world. He has landed more than 50 fitness magazine covers and written more than 100 fitness articles globally. His social networking influence is the biggest of any fitness professional, fitness expert or fitness personality on TV with more than 1.5 million Twitter followers.
*The mentioned athlete is either a distributor or dedicated user who has received compensation for his partnership and/or complimentary USANA products.
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