I hear it all the time — “Coach Wayne, I’ve lost a lot of body fat everywhere except the lower abs. What do I need to do to get rid of that stubborn belly fat?” They want the washboard abs!
Believe me, we ALL want them. That’s what sells! 90% of those gimmicky infomercials you see on TV are selling some sort of machine to give us the abs we’ve always wanted. But guess what? You can do ab exercises till the cows come home, but if your awesome washboard is covered with fat, it won’t look any different!!
And how do you get rid of that “stubborn belly fat”? The same way you get rid of any fat — NUTRITION!!! That’s right! I’m back to nutrition again! “Abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym”. Have you heard that quote? Well, it’s true! Your abs will start to show up once your body fat drops below about 10%, and you will see more and more as the body fat continues to drop. You will go from a KEG to a 2-PACK to a 4-PACK to a 6-PACK, and even the illusive 8-PACK if you get your body fat very low. It’s really that simple! No crazy machines needed.
So in summary, there is no way to “spot lose” body fat — we all have it, we all store it, and some areas of our body store more of it than others. For guys, it’s usually the lower belly, under the belly button and the love handles. For ladies, it’s hips and thighs. So as we lose body fat, those areas are losing as well, but since we have more fat stored there, it will take longer and more body fat loss before those areas look “ideal” to us. And it’s a lot easier to lose the first 2% of body fat than the last 2%, so it will seem harder to get that last bit of fat to melt off than it was when you first started losing body fat. But it can be done. It just takes 100% dedication to the Ab Belt (haha just kidding — making sure you are still reading!). It takes 100% dedication to the NUTRITION! Lower body fat means you can see the underlying muscles better. If you want to see your abs, you MUST be very committed to the nutrition because that’s the only way to get your body fat down to the elite level where abs pop out!
And of course I must also remind you that it’s still very important to work the abs and core muscles as part of your workout routine, because core strength is the key to balance and control while doing other lifts / movements. So don’t think you can just skip that Ab Ripper X or Cardio Abs in exchange for skipping a meal!
How often should you workout the abs? This is a GREAT question, and I’m asked it quite often. I think Tony Horton nailed the answer to this question on his 1-on-1 video called “Killer Abs”. In that video, Tony is asked by Mason (his cameraman):
Mason: “How often should you do an ab workout like this?”
Tony: “Once or twice per week. That’s all you need.”
Mason then responds with a quesion: “You don’t need to do abs every day?”
Tony: “That’s stupid! Do you do chest every day? Do you do back every day? Do you do calves every day? NO, NO, NO! So why would you do abs every day!”
Mason: “Well, I shower every day!”
Tony: “Thank God!” … and then he proceeds to begin the second half of the Killer Ab workout!
Classic! It leaves me laughing out loud every time!
That conversation pops into my mind every time I am asked about how often to do ab workouts, and it’s PERFECTLY TRUE!! Plan on 2-3 ab days per week. No more, no less. More is overkill and won’t give you better results. Less will lead to a weak core.
I love how Tony makes things simple for us … and funny too!