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Tips For Strong, Defined Abs

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Tips For Strong, Defined Abs

... Dasha Libin/MBG:

Here are seven things you should do and pay attention to in order to get a flat, defined, strong and healthy mid-section this summer:

1. Cardio isn't enough.

Cardio alone isn't enough to burn belly fat. Strength training increases muscle mass, and because muscle is far more metabolically active then fat (it needs more energy to live) you'll burn more fat (belly included). The simple fact is you must add resistance training to your workout if you want a great belly.

2. Stress causes belly fat.

You’ll be surprised to hear how much of the weight you carry has to do with hormones called cortisol, insulin and leptin.

  • Cortisol: A stress hormone that triggers fat storage. 
  • Leptin: Produced by your fat cells and plays a role in appetite control. It can also act to slow your metabolism. To help regulate this hormone you must exercise, stay active and eat clean. 
  • Insulin: Every time you down a carb-heavy meal or sugary drink, your blood sugar spikes. In response, your body releases insulin, whose job it is to pull extra glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream. Gaining weight can often lead to insulin resistance, a condition in which cells become less responsive to the hormone, and to diabetes.

3. Breathing is crucial.

Incorrect breathing during even your toughest workout can hurt your flat belly goals. When you panic breathe during exercise, your adrenal glands release cortisol. That response, which is meant to give you a burst of energy for fighting or fleeing, causes you to accumulate and store fat in your belly.

4. Overtraining won't help.

Just because you're working out doesn’t mean you're getting the benefits. This means having a training plan, not just training at random. When you train, you should be doing a specific sequence of exercises, lifting weight and having a goal-specific work-rest structure. Aim for daily activity.

5. Impatience is a leading factor in not reaching your goals.

Everyone gets results at a different pace. If you abandon a workout too soon, your body doesn’t have the opportunity to make the changes you're asking it to make. If you pick a program, give it a chance; stick with it all the way to the end, be patient and enjoy the learning process.

6. Fat-free foods are not your friends.

Look for good fats like avocados, salmon, nuts. Eat fiber-rich foods, leafy greens and fruit. Enjoy natural proteins and all-natural carbohydrates from sweet potato, kasha, quinoa and whole grains.

7. Looking for "perfection" is dangerous.

The truth is that your abs might never look like those of your fitness mentor or an underwear model. But they can be defined, strong and capable.Learn to look at your gains in terms of strength, function and then looks, not just looks alone. We're all distinctly unique and so are our strengths, weaknesses and abs. Recognize and respect your body, hard work and results. 

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