I recently had the pleasure to write an abs article for my friend Tony at SimplyShredded.com. In it you will find a sample nutrition plan and a sample training plan that I tend to follow in order to achieve my abs, as well as the philosophies I believe in when it come to achieving that ultimate midsection. Read it below or go simplyshredded.com to check it out
What are your diet philosophies?
I have one diet philosophy and it is simple: EAT CLEAN!!!
I try my best to pick healthy food choices for my meals and I have found that a low carb, high protein diet allows me to achieve the lean, shredded look that I require. I maintain that lean look year-round, while at the same time focus on adding more lean mass to my physique. This is not the easiest of things to do, but so far I am very happy with my results.
My meals consist for the most part of; Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Egg Whites, Fat Free Greek Yogurt, lots of steamed Veggies and I obtain my proteins from lean sources such as Chicken Breast, Ground Turkey, Red Meat, Tilapia and Salmon.
Vanessa’s Ab Diet:
I stay consistent and try not to vary from my usual diet. By slightly adjusting my diet over time, I have found that eating as below works best for my body type. If I begin to notice that my abs are not as defined, I may reduce my carbs slightly and/or incorporate more HIIT into my training routine.
- Meal 1: 3 Egg Whites and 1 Yolk, Light Wheat Toast or 1 cup of Oatmeal made with Fat Free Almond Milk
- Meal 2: 0% Fat Free Greek Yogurt with 1/4 cup of low fat, high protein Granola
- Meal 3: Grilled Tilapia with Lettuce and Tomato Salad, Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil
- Meal 4: Protein Shake
- Meal 5: (Post workout) Grilled Chicken Breast with 1 cup of Brown Rice and Steamed Veggies
- Meal 6: Protein Shake, or 1 cup of Fat Free Plain Cottage Cheese.
Do you ever allow yourself a cheat meal? If so, what is it that you crave?
I certainly do allow myself a cheat meal per week. I believe allowing yourself to have a cheat meal is not only good physiologically, but psychologically as well.
After dieting and eating clean for a period of time, it is likely that you will lose some energy and not be able to perform your training routine with the same intensity as before. This is partially caused by reduced glycogen stores in your muscles as a result of dieting. Glycogen is stored in your muscle cells and is used for energy during anaerobic activities such as weight training. Dieting for too long can also cause your metabolism to slow down. Your body senses the lowering of calories and adjusts itself to expend less energy when performing daily functions. This causes your body to burn less calories and less fat as when you first began your diet. Thus, a cheat meal will provide the extra calories and carbohydrates needed to refuel your glycogen stored and take your body out of “starvation/dieting” mode to ramp up your metabolism once again. It is a balancing act and you must play with it and learn how your individual body reacts over time to clean eating. Physiologically cheat meals can allow you to finally relax your mind from your constant, strict healthy eating patterns. I find that I can more easily maintain my clean eating patterns when I allow myself to eat and enjoy a certain food I crave.
These are some of the reasons a cheat meal is recommended. Luckily for me, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, so I don’t tend to crave sweets or junk foods. I usually crave Sushi Rolls or my mother’s White Rice and Plantains :). I have either one after a long hard day of training legs.
Is training and doing sit ups enough?
If you haven’t heard this before listen up: ABS ARE MADE IN THE KITCHEN!!! You can do endless amounts of Crunches or other types of Ab exercises, but if you are not eating clean in order to lose the extra body fat, you will never have the pleasure of seeing your abs.
It is true that genetics play a large role in how our abs are shaped and formed, but consistent clean eating along with proper Ab training is what takes your abs to that shredded level.
What do you believe are the biggest mistakes people make when working their abs?
One of the biggest mistakes I find people make is not performing weighted Ab exercises. I often hear people say they are afraid to train Abs with weights in fear of getting a wider midsection, in which I agree, to some extent. I won’t train Oblique’s with heavy weights, but I do add heavy weights to my upper and lower Ab routine. Our Abs are composed of muscles, just as any other body parts we train. You have to add resistant training to your Ab routine in order to make your core stronger and give you that defined, ‘cut’ look that most of us want. Another mistake I often see is not thoroughly engaging your core in the exercise, or using improper form. You have to be conscious of your form when performing any type of exercise in order to avoid injury. One specific exercise I see people doing wrong is the Crunch. Your Abs should be doing all the work. Don’t pull on your neck to lift your shoulders off the ground. Injuries can happen very quickly and can take months to recover from.
Pay closer attention to your form. If you are not sure of how to perform a certain exercise don’t be afraid to ask a trainer or someone with more experience for help.
Vanessa’s AB routine:
I perform a full Ab routine on days that I train Shoulders. Other days, I may quickly throw in a set or two of crunches at 15 reps per set, during the end of my weight training routine.
Ab Day Routine:
- 4 Sets of heavy Weighted Machine Crunches until failure
- 4 Sets of Reverse Crunches on the floor holding a 12 lbs Medicine Ball between knees until Failure
- 3 Sets of Hanging Leg Raises until failure
- 3 Sets of Standing Cable Oblique Twist 15 Reps each side
- 2 Sets of Standing Barbell Oblique Twist 15 Reps on each side
Is there one magic exercise that you think holds the secrets to great abdominals?
My favorite Ab exercise is the Weighted Machine Crunch. I have noticed a big difference in the definition of my Abs after constantly incorporating this into my routine.
I use it set on a medium weight level which allows me to maintain proper form. Try it for a couple of weeks and see what happens.
Besides using proper, specific Ab exercises, I remind you not to undermine the importance of a clean diet. Also you can try HIIT a couple of times a week to burn the extra fat covering your Abs, stay consistent and focused and I guarantee you will love the results of your hard work.