By Tom Bonanti
No doubt, a wash-board midsection is the crowning achievement of any physique. In addition to looking sleek and sexy, a lean, toned middle is good for maintaining a healthy, pain-free lower back. Did you know that maintaining low belly fat and a flat midsection can also prevent heart disease, colo-rectal cancer and other life threatening conditions associated with obesity? Why not start the New Year with a renewed resolution to turn that tubby tummy into a six-pack to die for? Here’s a plan.

Because your abs are such a large muscle group, you need to train them about 3 times per week. Four or five good exercises using 3-4 sets of 15 reps should do the trick. In the weeks ahead I’ll talk more about advanced abdominal training, but for now let’s do crunches and plenty of them…and make sure to get the form down properly!

For results, the crunch and variations of this movement should be at the heart of every successful ab routine. Begin a crunch in a supine position lying on a mat. Place your feet on a bench or exercise ball with your hips and knees flexed at 90 degrees. Rest your arms across your chest, or if you have problems with your neck, simply cradle your neck and your head with your hands. Do not pull on your neck. This is the starting position.

For proper technique, move the chin to the chest. Pull the rib cage up and over the pelvis. Keep the lower back flat and continue to crunch upward, elbows and chest to the knees. Contract your abs as hard as possible. To make crunches harder, add resistance by clasping a 10 or 15 lb weight to you chest as you crunch. Side crunches, reverse crunches, and crunches over a resistance ball are all great variations on a theme called crunch!

While crunches build solid abdominal muscles, you must do cardio to melt away fat from your midsection. For starters, try doing cardio (power walking, swimming, elliptical, etc.) for at least half an hour twice per week. Make sure to warm up gradually, then get your heart rate up to about 65 to 80% of your maximum heartrate (220 – your age). Warning! If you haven’t had a checkup or done cardio in a while, see your doctor first!

Stellar abs require Spartan nutrition. Cut out all fast foods – they’re loaded with salt, preservatives and saturated fat. Nix all refined sugars, ie. candy, cookies, sodas and the like. Cut back on booze and you’re sure to see and feel results overnight!

Carbohydrates are your friends, especially complex, low glycemic index carbs like fruits, veggies and whole grains. Consume these early in the day to fuel your activities. Eat more protein as the day wears on. Lay off carbs after 6 PM, because these are going to be stored as fat as you sleep. Eat smaller meals. Avoid monster portions.

Got questions about fitness issues in 2017 contact trainertomb@aol.com or call Tom today (954) 557-1119 to get answers and results!