Getting Great Abs – A special guide for women

By Nancy Andrews

Secrets to Great Abs

Feb 5th, 2013 | By Nancy Andrews | Category: Coach Nancy - The Way I See It..., Exercise Tips, Living the Fit Life, Women's Workout Advice

The key to being perceived as having a sexy body is to have toned legs, a tight booty and great abs.  In fact in our current society, abs get the most attention.  It is, instinctivley, a key to a woman’s overall health.  A waist to hip ratio of less than .8 makes you look really good.  I’ve read studies that say the ‘perfect’ ratio is .72 although honestly I’ve not gotten to that - but trust me, if you get to .8 or less, you will look fantastic.

So what’s the secret?  Well it’s a bit of 3 things.  You see many times you’ll read articles that talk about abs and diet or abs and exercise but there is a third leg that is just as important so be sure to read this article all the way through to the end.  But first we’ll talk about diet.

1. Your diet and abs

This may be more vital than exercise.  You see you really are what you eat.  So a well balanced diet (see my P90X diet for what I recommend) is key.  When you read my P90X diet guidelines, you’ll be quick to see that I’m basically advocating a low grain, low glycemic index diet with more protein in it than what you are likely eating now.  This is not a traditional ‘low carb’ diet because you get to eat more carbs than those programs allow.  It’s not an exceptionally high protein diet but protein is very important because it will boost your metabolism.  The low grain and low glycemic part of the diet keeps your insulin levels under control which means less belly fat.

2. Your abs and exercise

Exercise is an important element for overall fitness.  But what about ab exercises?  Do you really need them?  Well yes you do need some ab focused exercises but maybe not as much as some fitness magazines might suggest.  Ab exercises are crucial for anyone who wants a six-pack.  You cannot get that look without developing the muscles underneath.  Mostly men crave that look but women are generally not nearly as interested in having a six pack (and frankly men can find a woman with a six pack intimidating).  Most women just want a sleek, lean, healthy look.

womens abs Getting Great Abs   A special guide for women

With that in mind, you’ll want to focus on ab exercises that strengthen the underlying muscles that provide our natural gridle.  The muscles that hold in the lower abs.  Crunches, which focus on the upper part of your abs (unless you are doing reverse crunches), have limited use for us women.  I’m not saying don’t ever do them but just realize where they focus the muscle development.  Best exercises for lower ab development include reverse crunches, plank work (this is great for the entire ab area), ab wheel, military march and others of a similar nature.  I also love to use ab straps for a killer lower ab workout.

Finally, some women love to work their obliques (muscles on the side of the abs).  For some of us women, this can be easily overdone.  I personally have to limit my oblique work as I develop obliques very easily.

3. Recovery and ab development

This is the third element that is so frequently overlooked.  You may have heard that you need to rest a muscle group fully before working it again and that’s true, but not the point of what I’m getting at here.  You see you need to overall recover from the systemic stress of exercise, stress from work or home life and more.  Part of this is as simple as getting a good night’s sleep.  But throw in some meditation or even some deep slow breathing and you’ll take your fat burning to a higher level.

The reason I cover this is that I find many women are over stressed.  Maybe it’s part of our nature to take care of others but when we neglect ourselves, we can become chronically stressed.  This raises our cortisol levels which then can cause us to lose muscle mass and gain or retain weight – even when we are dieting!

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  1. I would like tone abs. I have a 3 yr old and my stomach is flat, but has no structure. I’d like to work on my abs without getting a thick “box” look. I’m assuming this means not working out the oblique muscle, I did crunches and planks for awhile but felt I started to lose the little curve I have and became sort of boxy. What exercise will tone without creating side thickness? Hope that makes sense, thanks!

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