Without a doubt one of my most asked questions as a personal trainer is ‘Sam, how do I get a flat stomach?”
Yep, everyone wants that toned tummy and washboard abs. You don’t need to juice cleanse, only eat in a five-hour window or hit the treadmill for hours on end. In fact, it’s simpler than you think. To have a flat stomach definitely isn’t easy. Let’s be honest, if it was 67% of Australians wouldn’t be overweight or obese. But… it can be simple. So, if burning belly fat is your goal, here are my top tips on how to achieve it.
1. Accelerate your metabolism. You can’t spot reduce
Despite all the articles, videos and unqualified sources, you can’t get 3 minute abs and you can’t specifically burn fat off your thighs. If you really want to shift some kilos off your midsection, you need to reduce your overall body fat. Paired with the right nutrition (I’ll get to that later) this is best achieved with good old fashioned HIIT & resistance training. You want to focus on metabolic training here to get the most bang for your buck.
2. Catch some ZZZs
We are often very aware of our exercise and food intake behaviours, but most of us forget about an equally important aspect of our lives…our sleep. Sleep directly affects our appetite and hunger regulation and a constant lack of sleep leads to increased levels of cortisol being produced by the body. Cortisol is a stress hormone and the increased presence of cortisol can cause our body to go into a catabolic state, encouraging fat storage.
3. Practice mindfulness
When we’re under stress, our body goes into survival mode. Cortisol causes our bodies to store fat so that we have reserves to draw on. This is great if we’re stranded on an island, not so much when we’re trying to lose weight. As someone who is always on the go, I make a conscious effort to try to take at least five minutes out of my day to practice mindfulness. This was something that certainly did not come naturally to me so don’t worry too much if it seems a little strange at first. Whether it’s doing some stretches, listening to a podcast or using a mindfulness app, taking some time out for you is something I make part of my daily routine because I know how important it is for my overall wellbeing.
4. Quality not quantity
This one should be pretty obvious, but you really do need to focus on your nutrition when you’re trying to shed a few kilos, particularly around your midsection. Don’t focus on the number of calories you consume and instead focus on the quality. JERF (just eat real food) should be your goal here whilst processed sugar, refined carbs, salt and alcohol should all be kept to a minimum (if not completely avoided). This doesn’t mean you can go bananas on the avocado, nuts or quinoa though- ensure you keep your portions in check.
5. Incorporate resistance training
Yep, I know I mentioned it above but I really can’t stress the importance of resistance training. Not only does resistance training burn calories during your workout, it actually burns more calories once you’ve finished training. The more lean muscle you have, the more calories you burn even when you’re just going about your day. Focus on compound movements that work more than one muscle group and keep the intensity high.
Remember, resistance training does not mean having to go to the gym. Resistance training can be done using your own bodyweight, medicine balls, bars or resistance bands Anything that creates a resistance for your muscles to work against can be classified as resistance training.
Sam Wood is the founder of online training and nutrition program 28 by Sam Wood and Australia’s largest personal training gym ‘The Woodshed’.