Begin the makeover by cutting bread and pasta from your daily meal plan. In one week, you’ll notice a significant difference. Baked potatoes and brown rice are OK for the first two or three weeks, then limit carbs to a bowl of oatmeal at breakfast and two or three servings of a green vegetable or fresh fruit with your four or five small meals per day. Increase protein intake to offset the calories lost with reduced carbs, but favour leaner choices such as protein shakes, chicken and fish.
Stick with this diet for the entire time you are following my ab circuit. All the crunches in the world won’t help if you have a layer of fat covering your stomach. That’s nothing more than common sense.
Shoot for 40 to 60 minutes per session, every other day. Never train more than 60 minutes in any given cardio workout, as this leads to overtraining and fatigue. According to climate conditions, alternate outdoor cardio (running, hiking and blading) with machine cardio, such as the treadmill, stationary bike and stair climber, in the gym. If you live in a cold-weather climate, alternate indoor cardio options to keep things fresh and fun. Changing your workout around is healthy for your body and mind – the whole idea is to do everything possible to reduce the risk of burning out on this programme before it has worked its magic.
Nobody wants to spend more time on abs than is absolutely necessary. On the other hand, everyone want to have killer abs to show off by wearing skintight pants that are cut very very low to reveal as much stomach as possible.
I have designed a circuit a circuit of crunches (upper abs), twisting crunches (upper abs and obliques) and lying leg raises (lower abs) to target the abs from every angle and to get the cutting-up-to-pieces job done quickly and efficiently.
Let’s get one thing straight from the start: you need to perform exercises that develop the rectus abdominis, the long muscle that originates at the pubis and inserts into the cartilage of the fifth, sixth and seventh ribs. Crunches hit the upper half of the rectus and leg raises hit the lower half. Twisting crunches target both the upper rectus and the external obliques, the muscles on each side of the torso attached to the lower two-thirds of the rib cage and inserting on the side of the pelvis.
The plan is to start with one complete ab circuit of three exercises of 15 to 20 reps per movement, with minimal or no rest between exercises. As you advance through the six-week training cycle, feel free to add a few reps to each set. After two weeks of becoming familiar with the programme and the nuances of the exercises, try to do the circuit a second time (I mean twice). After four weeks, you should be ready to take three trips around the three-part circuit (thrice). The precise way you modify the programme is a personal matter and will vary depending on your fitness level.
Lying leg raises*
Seated leg tucks+
* Perform as a circuit with no rest between sets.