Hey there, lovelies!
It’s been a little while since I last posted, I’ve been buckled down and focused the last several months as I was finishing my in-depth personal training education. Now I’m free as can be for the rest of the summer and I can’t wait to spend more time writing. I’ve also got some very exciting projects in the works that will help make my personal training services even more accessible… more on that later. 🙂
Today I decided to start a series based on the frequently asked questions I get on Instagram. Since I answer these questions on the regular, I figured it could be helpful to dedicate a few blog posts to them. Heck, I remember having these same questions a long time ago and I didn’t know where to look for answers. So here you go! Feel free to let me know about any questions you have to be featured in this series.
#1 How do I get abs???
This has to be the most asked question I get… ever. Everyone wants that flat, toned and tight tummy look. But actually achieving it can be so much harder than you think. Fear not! I love training abs, and I’ve gotten great six-pack results on my own using the following guidelines. The photo below shows my 6 month ab progression, the top left-top right, followed by the bottom left-bottom right.
- Doing a million crunches won’t get you abs that you can see… not without cardio. You have to burn the fat layer on top of the muscle first and foremost. The same is true of any body part or muscle group you’re looking to improve, tone, or tighten. Cardio is key for this part of the process (I always recommend HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training).
- Abs really are, at least partially, made in the kitchen. Lots of unhealthy foods end up getting stored in tummy fat, especially if you’re predisposed to a lot of tummy fat storage to begin with. So don’t ignore your diet, eat clean and lean, and work on detoxing your body.
- As a general rule in fitness, as well as when your goal is to get strong abs, always combine resistance training AND cardio. You need both to get results! Studies have shown that regular resistance training done along with cardio is the most efficient way to get a leaner physique. Cardio alone won’t get you the toned look you’re going for. You have to combine it with strength and resistance training. An example schedule would look like this: resistance and weight training in the 20-25 rep range, 3-5 days a week. Plus cardio (treadmill, HIIT, cycling, etc) in the morning or after weight training, 3-6 days a week.
- Perform ab-specific circuit training at the end of your workouts. I train my abs 4-5 days a week, using a circuit routine made up of 4 exercises (20 reps each exercise, 5 rounds)
when I’ve finished my main workout for the day. That way I can focus on leg day, for example, and still get a kickass ab workout in at the end.
- Know your body type and focus on your trouble areas. If you naturally store a lot of your fat on the tummy, you’ll need to spend a little more time on it. For me, my arms and abs don’t store a lot of fat. However, my thighs and booty looove to hang on to fat all too well. Knowing this, I spend more time training lower body because that’s my trouble area.
With those basic guidelines you can not only make great progress towards your abs, but also develop a routine that will help you blast fat, gain strength, and develop a great beginning fitness level. And remember, you engage your core when properly performing most exercises and lifts, so really you’re training abs during just about any workout, not just ab-specific ones! 🙂
#2 Can I still have treats or do I have to eat exclusively healthy?
I’m a big believer that occasional treats are a huge part of making a healthy lifestyle sustainable. If you restrict yourself too much all the time you’re bound to burn out. I personally have a weekly treat (usually a cheeseburger… or fries… or icecream… or candy…) and I encourage my clients to do the same. It keeps you sane! The key is to keep it as a treat. Do not binge eat. Enjoy the treat for what it is and then get right back on the healthy food. When the majority of what you eat is nutritionally dense and good for you it’s okay to have an occasional treat. It’s all about balance and moderation, people! And hey, it’s always helpful to try to find healthy alternatives that you crave! 🙂
#3 Can/should I workout when I’m sick, sore, or on my period?
The answer to all three is yes. However, it is so important to listen to your body!
Sickness: If you have a fever or an illness that causes any kind of dizziness, muscle aches or extreme fatigue… take it easy! If you have something more simple, like a cold, I say go for it. Take it slow and stop if your body can’t handle it. Lower the intensity of the workout a bit to take it a little easier on yourself. I find that when I’m under the weather, working out is one of the best ways to feel better and recover quickly. I’m not saying to go crazy with something intense like HIIT while you’re sick, but some basic resistance training can be really refreshing.
Soreness: What kind of sore is it? Are you just feeling that normal, “I worked out hard yesterday” kind of sore? Then go for it. Make sure your training schedule allows for proper rest and recovery between workouts (ex. alternate upper and lower body days). But if you’re training hard and effectively, you’re probably going to be sore a lot. That’s okay! On the other hand, if you are in pain, having twinges, joint issues or something that doesn’t feel normal, go see a doctor before continuing your training. Better to get it checked or let it rest than risk serious injury!
Period: we all know the awful side effects that can come along with that time of the month… not fun. But working out (even if all you can manage is a long walk or some basic lifts) is a great way to help reduce those symptoms. Studies have also shown that women who workout regularly have less intense PMS! Cool, right? 🙂 I find that getting in the gym and reminding myself what I’m capable of is a great mental and physical boost during that time.
I hope you’ve found this helpful and I hope you’ll start implementing these guidelines into your routine. As always, feel free to contact me with any comments, questions or concerns. I’m always happy to help however I can! Keep an eye out for the rest of this series, we’ve got a lot of questions to go! 🙂 There will also be many more posts on lots of topics as I get into a regular posting schedule.
Never forget, we want to be strong, not skinny! Contact me for one-on-one personal training and follow my Instagram @maryvm.fitness for regular fitness motivation, tips and workouts. 💪