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on How to Achieve a Toned Tummy and Slim Waistline 

It often seems like the hardest thing in the world to do: "Reducing your waistline and toning your abdominals". People all over the world spend thousands of dollars per day attempting to accomplish the "SIX PACK". I have regular requests asking for advice and quick fixes to remedy the storing of body fat around the waistline and how to create a firm toned midsection. 

The Truth about achieving a toned tummy and being able to actually see that "muscle tone" is to get rid of the layer of body fat covering your abdominals. That's right! It doesn't matter how many crunches you do, or what new machine you use from the continuous advertisements that hound us day in and day out. If you don't reduce your body fat you will never see those strong toned abdominals. 

Spot Reduction - A Fallacy! 

You cannot spot reduce. Although you can change areas of your body with resistance exercise eg. weight training techniques like toning, body shaping and body building etc. You cannot just train or exercise one body part alone, such as your abs, and expect to see a whole new look. Achieving a six pack or muscle tone in your abdominal area is a lot more involved and I intend to show you how to go about reaching your new slim and toned waistline by following a few simple steps and hints.. 

A familiar tune....... 

As I mentioned above I frequently receive emails of desperation with requests such as "I am happy with the rest of my body, but my wide and fatty waistline ruins my body shape. Can you give me one exercise that will fix this". Or "I have an occasion coming up and I want to reduce my waistline, can you recommend a supplement and some special crunches that will make me lose 10 kilos around my waist within the next 6 weeks?" And "I perform 200 crunches per day and I still don't see any difference in my waistline, what am I doing wrong?" 

One More Thing Before We get Started - Don't Rely On Gimmicks! 

One thing I am very concerned about is the fact that most of us want to believe that some miraculous piece of equipment, or pills, will give us that toned tummy that the sexy girls and guys have in the ads for these types of products. Believe me, before I started in the fitness industry years ago I also thought if I spent hundreds of dollars it would work for me too. I was so upset when I found out that I actually had to work at it and there was no such miracle cure or quick fix solution. 

The Difference Between Firming Up Your Abs and Reducing Your Body Fat Around Your Waistline 

Now that you know that the only way to trim down your waistline is to reduce the amount of body fat around that particular area you are probably thinking "where do I go from here?". First you need to realise that a slim waist doesn't necessarily mean that you have a toned midsection. As you know to firm up your abdominal area you need to perform crunches or some kind of resistance program. Many men and women do have slimmer waists or flat stomachs, but they can still lack tone and firmness. This where the "resistance training" comes in. 

"Why does my Waistline Grow Instead of Shrink when I Perform Crunches?" 

One of the most common reasons that I have found for this occurring is a diet full of fat, calories: from sugar foods and junkfood and too many starchy carbs towards the end of the day. Most people think that if they perform a few crunches every day their waistline will magically turn into a six pack! WRONG! How could you possibly expect to acheive a six pack when you are consuming foods that are increasing the actual layer of bodyfat that prevents the ab muscles from being seen in the first place? I know this sounds harsh but if you want to have a waistline or abs that look like you've put the effort in to produce them then that's exactly what YOU are going to have to do. If you are eating all of the wrong foods while increasing the muscle growth in your ab region you are actually "bulking up" this area. Why? Because you will have an increase in both muscle and bodyfat - which will therefore increase your measurements. 

"So how can I Firm Up my Abs and Reduce My Waistline too?" 

If you read through the steps below you will grasp a better understanding of how to attain the above goals. In no time you can get started on improving your training program to help you achieve the waistline you've always dreamed of having. 

Steps / Hints to Help Set You on the Right Track to Getting Started on Your New Ab Program 

When you read through the following steps and hints you will most probably find that there are quite a few of them that you aren't currently following or didn't know about. For each step I have included a list of things you need to remember when training your abdominals. I have tried to keep it brief but informative. You may like to use the following steps / hints like a checklist so you can remember each point when starting your NEW ABS progam. 

1 Resistance Training Program 

*Train your lower abdominals first 

*Breath out as you crunch up. 

*If you have your hands behind your neck, make sure you keep your elbows back, and crunch up using your shoulders. (This will help prevent neck soreness) 

*Keep your lower back pushed into the floor or bench. Unless you are advanced, and have sufficient abdominal and lower back strength, do not perform exercises that encourage you to arch your back up. If you find in general that your back arches keep your knees bent and closer to your body so that your lower back if pushing into the floor or bench. 

*Don't overtrain your abs. Three quality training sessions per week is ample. Remember muscle needs recovery time to grow. It's muscle growth that increases your muscle tone in your midsection. Overtraining will actually deplete the muscle instead of increasing it. 

*Don't go overboard with perfroming loads of repetitions. Rather than trying to achieve 5 x 100 crunches per exercise, hold for a count of 2-5, each rep you perform using 4-5 x 12 burning reps. This will get you better results. Your goal is to damage the muscle to promote muscle growth for increased muscle tone. 

*Don' t just train your abs. You need to be performing a full-body program rather than just concentrating on your abdominal region. Focus on training each body part so that you can a achieve a "toned and firm look" all over. 

2 Low-Fat Eating Program 

*Reduce your fat content in your meals. 

*Do not cook with oil, use a low fat cooking spray instead. 

*Reduce, and I mean really cut back, on your fried foods 

*Reduce your margarine and butter usage to only a small amount or none at all 
*Increase lean protein (to assist with muscle growth) 

*Eat fresh salads and veggies 

*Towards the end of the day reduce your intake of carbs like potato, rice, pasta, cereals and bread. Still include them in your meals but don't pig out on them. Fill up on green veggies instead. 

*Don't use fatty gravies on your meals or meat, use very low oil or no oil gravies instead.
*Don't use oily salad dressings, go for low oil or no oil with them too.
*Check the fat content on the labels of tins and cans 

*Cut all the fat off your meat and grill it. 

*Eat six meals smaller regular meals per day rather than having one or two large meals per day. 

*Always have breakfast! 

*Use egg whites rather than eggs with yolks. You can actually purchase egg whites in cartons, they can normally be found in the freezer section of your supermarket.
*Have one day off your eating program per week 

*If you have trouble keeping up with your protein intake use low-fat, low carbohydrate, high protein drinks. There are some great flavours ranging from vanilla, chocolate, banana, strawberry etc. Purchase a shake that is easy to mix and has quality protein content. You can use these as a morning or afternoon snack. 

Click here to take a closer look at protein powders or here to read more about the benefits of protein and why you need it to help you reach your training goals. 

3 Fat Burning Program 

To reduce your ab region, and the rest of your body, of that extra body fat, you will need to increase your fat burning exercise. 

*Vary your fat-burning times for each session 

*Vary the intensity 

*Increase the amount of sessions you perform each week - don't over do it though. Over fatburning eg. fatburning twice per day, 7 days per week is classified as over training and will deplete your muscle. For a faster metabolism 3 times per week is suitable. For a slow metbolism 5-6 times per week will give a good kick start to losing body fat. You can then decrease this as your metabolism increases.
*Swap from treadmill to bike to treadmill etc so your body, and you, don't get bored with your training program. If you have access to several different cardio machines you can alternate between them. 

*Fat Burn before breakfast to encourage your body to burn away at your stored body fats. 

*Fat Burn on an empty stomach. Inbetween meals or first thing in the morning. 
*Don't fat burn for any longer than 40 mins each session maximum! 

ABS Exercises 

Floor Crunches - (you can also use your ab roller/ frame for this exercise) 
Lie flat on your back on the floor, legs bent, feet flat, pushing your lower back into the floor. Clasp your hands behind your neck, keeping your elbows back, in line with your head. Crunch up slightly, raising your head and shoulders, breathing out as you crunch. As you crunch up push your lower back into the floor and squeeze your tummy as tight as possible. Lower your head and shoulders back down to the floor and repeat. You should feel a burning sensation in your upper tummy area and midsection. 

Lower Ab Crunches - Lie flat on your back on the floor, legs raised, knees bent and lower legs folded. Push your lower back into the floor. Place your hands by your sides, palms facing the floor. Raise your backside and hips slightly, breathing out at the same time. As you crunch up push your lower back into the floor and squeeze the lower section of your tummy (pelvis region) as tight as possible. Lower your hips and backside back down to the floor and repeat. You should feel a burning sensation in your lower tummy area and upper pelvis. 

Side Crunches (you can also use your ab roller for this exercise) 
Lie flat on your back on the floor, have your knees bent and legs twisted to one side. Your lower body should be twisted to the side but your upper body should remain straight and flat on the floor. Have your hands by the sides of your head and your elbows back. Crunch up slightly pushing your lower back into the floor, raising your head and shoulders, squeezing the side of your waist. Lower your head and shoulders back down to the floor. Repeat the exercise until you have finished your reps. Then change to the other side. 

Setting Yourself Some Goals 

Achieving a toned, slimmer midsection is possible if you are prepared to make the above changes to your lifestyle. You will be surprised at the results you receive if you dedicate yourself for a solid 12 - 16 weeks. The hardest part is getting started, but once you are on your way you won't regret it. Set yourself monthly realistic goals that are possible to acheive. Use goal clothing or a tape measure to monitor your changing waistline. Re-measure every 4 weeks. Don't forget about the good ol fat callipers too. If you are keen to measure your bodyfat click here for a very affordable fat calliper kit with full instructions. or purchase them at your local pharmacy or chemist. 

Happy training folks, 

Yours in fun, health and fitness 

Mandy Gibbons 
Personal Fitness Trainer 
For more info on Personally Designed Programs click here 

Persons who are of good health, suspect of their health or are aware of any conditions, physical deficiencies or diseases should always consult a physician before undertaking any eating or exercise program. Mandy Gibbons, Mandy's Body Sculpt and Tone, Virtual Fitness Trainer, and disclaims any liability or loss in connection with the above program or advice given in this article. 

This article was written by: 
Mandy Gibbons 2001 
Personal Fitness Trainer / Consultant Virtual Fitness Trainer: 
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