Hi guys,  Kris from Custom Fitness here, your personal trainer in Amarillo. Talking to you today about a secret to a flatter stomach. A lot of people believe that there must be some magic cure, some awesome exercise that they missed in Physical Education 101 and that is why their stomach looks the way it does. Well, as much as I wished the Phys. Ed curriculum was that comprehensive, it isn’t.  I have a few tips today about how to circumvent the “magic”, but still get real results.  If you have any questions about this blog or would like more information, give us a call 806-322-3188.

I have a few ideas to share with you today, so let’s get going.  The biggest secret that people don’t realize is that even skinny people have to hold their stomach in. It isn’t just something we can walk around, regardless of what size you are, and just let it hang out. I mean you can, but your clothes might fit a little funky. The reason you can’t hang loose is that one, it isn’t going to support your back or feel very good, and secondly, it isn’t going to make your stomach any flatter. Suprise!  

So, when you talk about holding your stomach in, a lot of people suck in. You just did it, didn’t you?  I will tell clients during their planks or any routine really to hold it in, and instantly I watch them take a big breath and suck in all the air from the room.  They immediately lift their chest, hold their breath, try and make their waist smaller.  That isn’t what I mean.  The good thing about that is your waist did shrink (because your ribs contracted to hold your breath). The bad thing is that your organs just twisted and shifted to accommodate the smaller space you created when you took that breath.  You didn’t actually engage your core which means you won’t have any lasting effects on the way your stomach looks; you just displaced organs. Can’t go down a pant size that way.

Instead of lifting and sucking in, you want to try and create the same abdominal feeling you have when you cough or sneeze.  When you engage your core you will build a flatter stomach – what the majority of American’s want when they do core activity is a flat stomach.  You want to remember the word “engaging”.  Engaging your core DOES NOT MEAN “displacing organs”.  When you are engaging your abdominal muscles, you are actively using your muscles to hold your posture.  Did you know, better posture is more than just rolling your shoulders back? It actually requires your stomach to be engaged in order to have everything aligned the way it should.

When you try and mimic the feeling of coughing or sneezing it causes your ribs and your hips to pull together.  I am not talking about your back rounding and having your tush stick out.  I mean, when you are engaged, your hips and ribs are pulling together, your pelvis will come forward into alignment, allowing the stomach to become tight and you will feel that tension in your core (engagement) just like you do when you cough — go ahead and try it now.

Like I said, anyone can walk around with their stomach hanging out.  This will most assuredly make anyone look much larger than they are.  No matter what size you are, no matter what you’ve done in the past, working on your core engagement by squeezing ribs to hips, pulling in your bellybutton to your spine and up towards your chin simultaneously will give you results. You will feel a difference and will soon see that difference in the mirror.

When to practice this?

Think breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You have 3 times a day where you are *hopefully* sitting down, eating your food. As you do that, practice squeezing your core in between bites. If that doesn’t work for you, try practicing during something you do everyday, maybe it is stopping at a red light, brushing your teeth, or every time you read something funny on Facebook. When you do those things aim to engage your stomach for 30 seconds, relax and do it again.  Don’t give yourself too much time to relax before you go again. Rather, hold 30, relax 5, hold 30, relax 5…repeat.

Eventually this becomes a more subconscious effort. Your stomach will begin to do this on its own more often.  Yes, there are a TON of core exercises you can do and I highly recommend them. Two examples come to mind like functional training where you utilize the whole body to create the core engagement and pilates where you focus on how to work that core while performing other movements.  

Whatever exercise you choose, you want to go beyond the typical crunch.  As a personal trainer in Amarillo I have seen lots of people use all the machines in the gym to get a leaner/toned body, but rely solely on crunching for abs.  That’s not how it works. People tend to associate a flat stomach with the crunch, but it isn’t as effective as other ways. For example, practicing engaging your core off and on throughout the day will benefit you more in the long run than a few sets of crunches.  The more often you can practice keeping your core muscles activated, the more results you are going to see.

If you have questions on what exercises would be best for your stomach or how to reach the goals you have for yourself, my team and I are ready to help.  Give us a call at 806-322-3188 or e-mail us at info@customfitness.biz.  We would be happy to schedule you for a fitness consultation so we can help you develop a game plan to get you towards the you, you want to become.  We focus on exercise, nutrition, and lifestyle. As many people have heard, abs are built in the kitchen. We will talk more on that tomorrow, but for now, give us a call if you’d be interested in any of our services.  At Custom Fitness, we are YOUR personal trainer in Amarillo.  Have a great one everybody.