5 Things you didn't know about 6-Pack Abs

MOVE RIGHT | by TIM ROBARDS | 18 Aug '17
From tight hip flexors to crash diets, here's a few things that come into play when you're trying to build that 6-pack.

6-Pack abs. They're the ultimate goal when it comes to bikini bod season, yet many of us struggle to keep up with the balance between diet and exercise required to maintain a healthy flat stomach. You may have heard that your abs are made in the kitchen, or that endless crunches may (or may not) get you there, but there are still a few things your PT didn't know about that come into play when you're trying to build that summer bod.

5 Things you didn't know about 6-pack abs

1.     Tight Hip Flexors Don't Lie

If your day-to-day life requires a lot of sitting (also known as the 9-5 desk job), tight and short psoas muscles -  the muscles that run across your hips to create flexion -  can pull the trunk and thigh towards each other. This can affect your posture, rounding your shoulders and and can trigger lower back pain. Stretching your hips flexors not only alleviates lower back pain, but also promotes correct posture. This let’s your stomach flatten out instead of crunching up. Yoga, along with the mobility exercises in my TRM app, will lengthen the front hip muscles and help with a flatter tummy.

2.     Perfect posture = perfect abs 

Good posture affects the way your abs appear in your mid-section. Same as above in #1, if you’re slouching, you’re not going to see any sort of definition in the stomach.  When it comes to strengthening the muscles within and around your core, stability is as important as mobility. Make sure you work the obliques, deep core muscles and lower back muscles to support your entire body to sit upright and create more space for you to lean out and lengthen in that area.

3.     Pre-workout stimulants could be working against you.

Stress and adrenal fatigue often stimulates hormones that are not conducive to fat burning.  Keeping your cortisol levels at bay is fundamental to achieving a flat mid-riff. Pre-workout stimulants tend to have the same effect as caffeine. Your energy levels will spike, along with your cortisol, which is the hormone that is produced when you are stressed. Stress can be a huge factor in weight gain. It can cause weight gain as your body goes into survival mode and will store fat in certain areas. It’s important to keep the nervous system calm and controlled outside of intense physical activity.

Certain breathing techniques (Such as the ones in my 12 Min Abs Challenge) can help. Breathing deeply and consciously for just a few minutes a day can drastically improve your wellbeing.

4.     There's no "quick fix"

Starvation, cutting out food groups, counting calories, fasting ... all these different diets might work in the short term, and you may see a drastic change in your weight and the way you feel, but most likely then not, you’re just losing water weight and it will all come back once you start eating normally again. Crash diets are not sustainable as you will eventually give into your cravings and not feel good about it later. That’s where a meal plan like my 7-2-1 method comes into play and can really benefit someone who is trying to create a healthy lifestyle with sustainable weight loss. By eating clean 70% percent of the time, and sensible 20%, this leaves you with 10% to really enjoy the things you love eating! The idea is not to banish cravings but control them. Your whole body and mind will benefit from this method, including those abs!

5.     Banish the cardio bunny

The more you do the same workout, the more your body gets used to it, the less progress you will see. A lack of challenge in your workout will cause your body to plateau. Being a cardio bunny on the treadmill may burn fat at first, but it’s HIIT that will give you the boost in heart rate you need for your metabolism to work on overdrive, long after you’ve finished your workout. Sprint Intervals such as 1min jog/1min sprint for 20 mins is much more effective than a 50-min steady state run. You need to shock your body back into a mode where it burns the calories you consume, in and out of the gym. Your TRM Power workouts are perfect and my 12 Min Abs Challenge is full of HIIT workout ideas.

How to build muscle using ONLY bodyweight

MOVE RIGHT | by TIM ROBARDS | 21 Jun '17
Many of us believe that bodyweight exercises aren't very effective when it comes to building muscle. This is usually because, you’re doing it all wrong!

The key to building muscle is about stimulating the body to grow. How do we do this? We challenge it. The body has an amazing ability to adapt to our environment. We move time zones; our body adapts to new sleeping habits. We enter a cold climate; our body shivers to warm up. We need to escape danger; our heart and lungs work harder to fuel our muscles with more oxygen etc. If we need to lift heavier things and more regularly, including our own bodyweight, it will adapt to it.

So, whether you’re a male looking to build muscle or female looking to slim, tone and develop lean muscle mass, bodyweight resistance training is a perfect place to start. Ladies, TRM style workouts will maximise your fat burning whilst helping you build long, lean muscles as you are working through a full range of motion, as well as challenging your balance and stabilisers - much like pilates and yoga, so you can forget about the fear of bulking up.

The first mistake people make with bodyweight training is doing exercises in excess of 10-20 reps, with an expectation of building lean muscle. Yes, you’ll feel a burn, however this will more so challenge the endurance of the muscle, rather than build on it. Ideally, you need to be maxing out around the 6-12 rep mark. Arnold Schwarzenegger once said, ‘It’s the last 3 to 4 reps that make the muscles grow.’ It comes down to that last rep you didn't think you had, that will make all the difference. For more information on rep count, you can read my article on Why 11 Reps here.

With a focus on using your bodyweight as a form of resistance our TRM rings and program allow you to change the intensity of an exercise by simply adjusting the positon of your body to increase the relative ‘weight’ and force required to challenge you. These small alterations are what lead to natural progression and stronger muscles. The TRM rings mimic most machines in the gym, target every muscle group and for those often on the move, they fit perfectly into your carry on.

In a nutshell, to see results from bodyweight training, adapt your exercises so you are maxing out in that 6-12 rep range, then…do one more!

3 of my top muscle building TRM ring exercises:

CHEST FLY (follow from left to right)
Active muscles: Chest, Shoulders, Biceps

HEADBANGERS (follow from left to right) 
Active muscles: Biceps, forearms

PLANK CURL KNEES IN (follow from left to right)
Active muscles: Core, Abs, Obliques