The best way to get a flatter stomach is an exercise I call table push-backs. That is, push baaack from the table and stop stuffing your face. Contrary to the latest infomercial, you won't get flat abs by using the latest and greatest ab contraption. The secret to flat abs is your diet. That right: It's 80 percent diet and 20 percent exercise.
You can do a million crunches until you're blue in the face and that lovely muffin top will remain covering your toned abs until you change your diet and start to eat clean. A clean diet means eat everything closest to its natural state (so skip commercial snack foods...donuts, cakes, cookies, chips--even the organic ones, processed foods, high-fat salad dressings, all fried foods, fast foods, alcohol, soda, sugary juice...you get the idea). Eating a quality diet of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low-fat proteins (in the appropriate amounts) is the best way to get better abs and a better body overall.
As far as exercise goes, cardio is primarily for toning the heart muscle and burning fat; strength training is for toning muscle (through body weight exercises, free weight training, kettle bells, weight machines). Get in a good cardio workout most days a week, and make sure to do toning exercises that also target your abs. Try to do toning exercises at least two to three times a week on non-consecutive days.
Here are some good ab-toning exercises you can do at home (do what you can, but try to work your way up to doing more reps and holding the positions for longer amounts of time):
Plank: Lie on your stomach on a mat. Then get into position by placing your forearms onto the mat and lifting up so that your shoulders are right over your elbows. Then extend your legs behind you and rest your weight on the tip of your toes (like if you were doing a pushup) and your forearms. Make your body from your shoulders to your toes a straight line (don't lift your hips too high or arch your back). Keep your abs tight and hold this position as long as you can without bending your back. Try to hold it at least 10 seconds, and gradually work your way up to holding it for 60 to 90 seconds. Take a break and then repeat two more times, for a total of three sets.
Side Plank: This is similar to the regular plank, but done on your side. So get on your right side, with your legs straight and stacked one on top of the other. Extend your right arm so that you are propped up on your elbow, which should be lined up under your shoulder. Put your left hand on your left hip. Keep your body straight, not allowing your hips to dip towards the ground. Keep your breathing steady. Hold this position for at least 10 seconds (try to work up to 90 seconds eventually). Switch sides and repeat. Do three sets on each side.
Leg Raises: Lie flat on your back, and extend both legs toward the ceiling with your feet flexed (as if you were standing on the ceiling). Slowly lower both flexed legs toward the floor, and once they get about six inches from the floor, slowly raise them back up to starting position. Place your hands under your buttocks for extra spinal support. Do three sets of 10 to 25 reps.
Results will vary from person to person, but if you follow these guidelines, most people will see visible improvements within a month, no matter what their fitness level.
1. Maintain regular bowel movements. Constipation can cause bloating, excess gas and bloating. Therefore, make sure you stay hydrated and aim for about 8 glasses of water daily, consume adequate fiber ~25 g for women, ~37-38 for men, and exercise for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.
2. In addition to limiting added sugars, avoid sugar-free foods that contain sugar alcohols. these sugar alcohols (anything ending in "ol' like sorbitol, xylitol are like laxatives, and often cause bloating and gas. Not what you what for a flat belly..
3. Chew your foods slowly. Eating too fast can cause indigestion and bloating so don't ever wait until you are starving. That may cause you to inhale your food without thinking twice. Hunger is healthy but waiting until you can swallow the entire fridge is not the best idea.
4. Watch out for food intolerances and allergies. For example, if you are lactose-intolerant, dairy can make you feel bloating and cause intestinal discomfort. If you think you may have intolerances and/or allergies you may want to speak with your physician.
5. Take it easy on the alcohol, which in excess can cause water retention and make you look a bit swollen and feel bloated.
6. Sometimes carbonated rinks like seltzer can trap gas in your intestines so enjoy flat, filtered water instead.
7. Certain foods like cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts), and beans can cause gas. If that is the case, then try to eat small amounts of these foods that are cooked thoroughly. They are super nutritious so try to incorporate them into your meals, but slowly.
8. Limit sodium as it can make the body retain water, and make you feel bloated.
1. Boost your intake of both fiber and fluids. Aim for 25 to 35 grams of dietary fiber and about eight to ten, 8-ounce glasses of pure water each day. (Eating more fiber without adding extra fluids can actually cause constipation.) Try adding a scoop of fiber- and nutrient-rich ground flax meal or chia seeds to your favorite smoothie or cereal, filling half your plate with fresh or lightly steamed vegetables at meal time, and adding a leafy green salad to your mid-day meal.
2. Incorporate some gut-friendly, anti-bloating foods to your diet. Fermented foods like kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, and kimchi are great natural sources of probiotics (good bacteria that help keep your digestive tract functioning optimally, enhance the digestion and absorption of nutrients from the food you eat, and give your immune system a boost). In addition, bloat-reducing fennel, the natural diuretic effects of cucumbers, and the soothing effects on the intestines of sea buckthorn berry or aloe juice (preferably aloin- or latex-free aloe) may also be benefit your gut.
3. Eat slowly and mindfully, and chew thoroughly. Digestion begins in your mouth. Be sure to chew your food thoroughly and slow down your eating pace. Allow yourself at least 20 minutes to enjoy your meal.
4. Stop eating when you are 80 percent full. Overeating can lead to abdominal bloating, distention, and pain.
5. Space your mealtimes out at least 2 to 3 hours (or more) apart. Allow the food from one meal or snack to properly digest before you bombard your gut with more food.
6. Reduce stress--both during and between mealtimes. Avoid eating when you are stressed, but also take steps to avoid stress in general. Stress causes levels of coritsol to increase in your body, which in turn contributes to the deposition of fat in the abdomen. Getting a good night sleep, limiting your coffee intake to 2 or less cups per day (caffeine can cause cortisol levels to increase), and incorporating stress-relieving measures into your lifestyle including meditation/guided imagery, walking or other exercise, and spending time outdoors are great ways to keep those cortisol levels in check.
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