Want a flat belly? Do more squats

Requests seem to come to me in cycles. One person mentioned wanting to do more abs and earn a flatter, thinner midsection and now everyone is mentioning this to me. My latest automatic response is that we should do more squats.

Many have said, “I think I should do more abs, don’t you?”

No. I don’t.

Reason 1: Ab exercises burn very few calories.

In order to burn fat and lose weight – whether it be in your belly, thighs, or butt – you need to burn calories. Traditional ab exercises burn very few calories in essence because they focus on small muscles. If anything, if you only focus on abs, your midsection may grow – because you DO build muscle.

Reason 2: Core conditioning is built into every workout.

At least it is built into every one of my workouts (I cannot say the same of all workouts and trainers out there). If you have every worked with me, you have heard me talk about this. I build core training and conditioning into the workout – more efficient and functional.

Why squats?

Squats are one of the biggest calorie burners – at least for the general exerciser. Squats require your large leg and butt muscles to work – making them a huge calorie burner. And you need to burn calories to burn fat! And because you cannot spot reduce for weight loss, you want to burn more calories to reduce the girth of your midsection.

Truth be told: Abs are made in the kitchen

You may have heard this, and it is true. Abs are made in the kitchen – even moreso for women. A large portion of midsection weight can be attributed to what you put in your mouth. While another portion of this is related to hormones (a woman in a particular time of fertility will have more fat, protecting the womb as a safe home for a fetus), eating what I refer to as CRAP will find itself attached to your midsection (as well as other areas).

Carbonated drinks
Refined grains and sugars
Artificial flavors
Processed foods

The bottomline

Doing more ab exercises will not lead to a flatter belly. I know, this is not necessarily intuitive, but trust me! Have I ever led you wrong?

Eat well and burn more calories – through strength training and effective aerobic exercise.

Doing all the right things and not getting the results you desire? Let’s chat and fine-tune your plan.

Like what you read? Please visit my new blog at Better By Becca.

Exercise is science – make lifting weights safe, effective, and efficient

A few weeks back I was given a priceless compliment – that I had provided THE BEST explanation for how exercises should be completed that he had ever heard. This came from a man who has been exercising and lifting weights for 30+ years.

I was flattered. I was proud.

The explanation

Exercise is a science – based primarily on physics and exemplified by Newton’s Laws of Motion. I will oversimplify these laws with the notion that all energy comes from somewhere and goes somewhere – it can neither be created nor destroyed. With that said, when lifting weights, where does the energy come from?

The ground!

I commonly describe the importance of grounding your body for lifting. For example, when you perform a lying chest press, it is important to drive your heels into the floor, tighten your quads and butt, draw in your navel, and pull your shoulder blades into the bench.

As the daughter of an electrician, it is only natural that I would use an electrical analogy. Electronics come with either a two- or three-prong plug. More often than not (in the United States), those with three prongs require greater amounts of energy. This third plug, the ground-fault circuit-interrutper (GFCI), was designed in the 1960s as a mechanism for safety and efficiency. The ground reduces the amount of energy lost and the risk of fire. (With GFCIs, individuals experienced fewer electrical accidents and had reduced energy usage and electrical bills.)

You know those guys you see who dance their feet around on the ground, struggling to push the weight up? They are losing energy.

Grounding yourself 

Grounding yourself during exercise ensures safety, efficacy, and efficiency. If the energy for exercise (remember Newton’s laws) comes from the ground, then you need a solid connection to that energy source. Ensuring you are mounted firmly to the ground, such as the chest press description above, increases efficacy and efficiency because your chest is doing the work (as intended) and not your legs, abdominals, or back.

Stop dancing

Individuals dance their feet while lying on the bench – whether it be for a chest press, triceps extension, or fly. The same goes for any seated exercises, for example a seated shoulder press or lateral raise. And do not forget about standing exercises! Plant your feet and tighten your legs, butt, and core for those biceps curls or front raises.

NOTE: You will be able to lift more weight for a comparable exercise while seated than while standing – you are close to your energy source.

I see the most dancing in group fitness classes. This is a good way to make a minimally effective workout even less effective. Walking or dancing around while performing biceps curls significantly reduces the safety, efficacy, and efficiency.

The bottomline

Exercise is science. We rarely think of it this way – I know that I never used to! I love training left-brained individuals who have a firm grasp of scientific principles, because I can use these crazy analogies and they actually enjoy them!

Sometimes we just need to hear something in a new way in order to understand it. Maybe this post does that for you – and maybe it does not.

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