The idea of “spot reduction” for fat loss is as old as Tracy Anderson is wrong in everything she ever says. Spot reduction has never and will never work. You can’t reduce the fat deposit on your calves by doing a thousand calf raises. Similarly, you can’t get abs by doing a thousand situps. The real key to fat loss and the resulting ab definition is total body work and high-intensity interval training, like what we program in classes every day as part of our strength & conditioning training.
Doing crunches won’t get you closer to having abs because your abs aren’t meant to act as flexors or extensors (bending forward or bending over backwards); they’re meant to act as stabilizers. That’s why we program movements such as anti-rotation kettlebell renegade rows, or planks in Unloaded, or suitcase carries (that’s a sneak preview at the next programming cycle). Also, the compound movements of deadlifts, heavy squats and overhead lifts are making your abs work MUCH harder than those rinky-dink crunches. These total body movements make your abs stabilize against some extreme forces, and they’re infinitely better than any 30-day challenge.
Here are some other things to get those abs for Spring/Summer:
1. Get Better Sleep
Sleep raises your growth hormone levels, which means more muscle gain and fat loss (1). Better sleep also improves your insulin sensitivity, as poor insulin sensitivity can disproportionately store fat in your gut (2). Lastly, better sleep regulates your thyroid’s hormone levels, meaning your metabolism will run faster (3). And how can you sleep better? By turning off all screens (TV’s, cellphones, monitors) one hour before bed, or supplementing with ~325-500mg of ZMA or ~2-5mg of Melatonin.
2. Be More Active
If you’re attending Derby City three times a week, try adding a fourth or fifth day. “WTF?!? BUT I’M ALREADY SO SORE” I know, I know… hear me out… on the new days you’re adding to your workout schedule, try just performing the WOD that day, and do so at “Half-Life” weight or reps, but at higher intensity. So, skip the Strength portion and just knock out a variation of the WOD that allows you to keep moving quickly with short breaks. Repeatedly, studies show that more fat loss is achieved in high-intensity training lasting 20 minutes than in low-intensity training lasting 45 minutes. High-intensity training increases post-exercise oxygen consumption, as your muscles work to restore physiological factors in your cells, which requires greater energy expenditure than low-intensity training (4). What’s that mean? You need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable in the WODs.
3. Eat Better
To lose fat, ultimately you have to be at a caloric deficit, burning more calories than you eat, so your body burns stored fat to compensate. But, don’t simply aim to eat less. Eat intelligently with a diverse diet, making sure to avoid artificial sugars. Refer to our last article –> “Quick Guide to Easy Nutrition”. Generally speaking, you can begin seeing abs at around 10% body fat for men and around 16% body fat for women, and our body-fat composition machine can help you track your fat loss over weeks and months.
(1) “Age-related changes in slow wave sleep and REM sleep and relationship with growth hormone and cortisol levels in healthy men.” Van Caulter, E., JAMA, August 2000.
(2) “A Single Night of Partial Sleep Deprivation Induces Insulin Resistance in Multiple Metabolic Pathways in Healthy Subjects.” Donga, E., JCEM, July 2013.
(3) “The Role of Your Thyroid in Metabolism and Weight Control.” Jacques, J., OAC, 2016.
(4) “Effect of an Acute Period of Resistance Exercise on EPOC Implications for Body Mass Management.” Schuenke, M., Applied Physiology, March 2002.