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Ten exercises, four times a week. Get a flat stomach for Summer.

 

At this time of the year I get a lot of messages saying that people want to tone up and lose some weight before the summer hits. So, I put this quick guide together.

You should complete the entire programme three or four times a week — it will take about 20 minutes. On two other days do cardio work, ie, running or cycling. This should include a 12-minute session with bursts of 30-second sprints and a minute to recover. This type of high-intensity workout is very effective at burning fat effectively. Take one day of rest.

Do not expect an easy month if you want to transform your body. You’ll probably find it gets easier after a couple of weeks, so with each exercise, I have included a more intense version for weeks three and four.

The 20-minute programme

Reverse curl

Lie on your back with hands by your sides and legs in the air, legs perpendicular to the floor, soles of the feet facing the ceiling. Place your hands on the floor beside you. Contract your abdominals and slowly lower your legs to a 45-degree angle to the floor. Keep your feet flexed. Return to the start position and repeat 25 times.

During weeks three and four: Increase the number of repetitions to 40.

 

Plank

Assume a basic plank position. To do this, lie face down, leaning on your forearms which should be bent at 90 degrees. You can also do a plank with arms outstretched in the press-up position (pictured above) which is slightly easier. Keep your back straight with your hips off the floor. Squeeze your torso. Remain in this plank position for a minimum of 30 seconds.

During weeks three and four: Increase the intensity by adding a leg raise. Slowly lift one foot about 6-8in and hold for a few seconds. Lower the leg back to the starting position. Perform 20-30 leg raises (10-15 on each leg).

 

Sit-ups

Lie on your back on the floor, with your knees bent, and hands over your head. Lift your upper body away from the floor, with neck relaxed, pulling your rib cage towards your pelvis, making sure you feel the abdominal muscles working. Lower slowly until you are lying flat. Repeat 25 times.

During weeks three and four: Increase the number of repetitions to 35.

 

Squats

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees and toes pointing slightly outwards. Keep your back straight and your head up. Squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Slowly return to the start position. Repeat 20-25 times.

During weeks three and four: Increase the intensity by adding a jump at the end of the squat as you return to the standing position.

 

Mountain climbers

Assume a basic press-up start position, with your arms fully extended so that your weight is on your hands. Remain light on your toes. Drive your right knee forwards to your right arm. Spring back to the start position and repeat with the left leg to the left side. Keep a strong pace and good momentum. Repeat 30 times (15 on each side).

During weeks three and four: Increase the number of repetitions to 40 (20 on each side).

 

Glute raise

Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Engage the abdominal muscles and squeeze your buttocks to raise your hips from the floor. Press your heels into the ground as you do this to remain stable. Don’t push too high — the aim is to form a straight line from shoulders to knees. Lower slowly. Repeat 30 times.

During weeks three and four: Increase the number of repetitions to 40.

 

The Spiderman

Start as you would for a press-up, with legs outstretched behind you, straight arms wider than shoulder-width, hands on the floor directly beneath your shoulders and your weight on the balls of your feet or your toes. Lower your chest towards the floor, as you would during a press-up. Lift your right foot off the floor and bend at the knee, bringing it up to reach towards your right arm. Don’t twist your back. Slowly return to the start position and repeat on the other side. Do 20 repetitions (10 on each side).

During weeks three and four: Increase the number of repetitions to 30 (15 on each side).

 

Oblique plank with rotation

Lie on your right side and elevate your body, supporting your weight with your right hand and feet, with your arms both outstretched. Keep your body straight. With your left arm, reach through the gap beneath your right arm, past your torso. Return to the start position. Repeat 20 times (10 on each side).

During weeks three and four: Increase the number of repetitions by 5-10 on each side.

 

Single leg deadlift

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and raise your left foot. Hold a dumbbell or bottle of water in your right hand. Keep your balance by focusing on your core muscles. Lean forward from the hips, raising your left leg straight behind you and keeping your right knee slightly flexed. The idea is to form a straight line from your head through the raised leg to the foot, squeezing your buttock muscles to maintain control. Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat 20 times (10 on each side).

During weeks three and four: Increase the number of repetitions to 30 (15 on each side).

 

Oblique ab crunch

Lie on your back with feet flat on the floor and hands positioned lightly at the sides of your head. Curl your upper body, twisting your trunk to reach your right elbow towards your left knee. Do this without lifting your lower back off the floor. Curl back down and repeat on the other side. Repeat 30 times (15 on each side).

During weeks three and four: Increase the number of repetitions to 40 (20 on each side).

 

5 reasons to lose the paunch

To protect your heart

Numerous studies have found that people who have a “spare tyre” round their middle face higher risks of heart disease compared with those whose fat is more evenly distributed. This year a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology showed that the overall density of abdominal fat — which includes the hidden fat deep in the abdominal cavity — was a strong predictor of heart disease risk.

To reduce your risk of getting cancer

Having a paunch in midlife can dramatically increase your chances of getting cancer. Last week the University of Manchester presented findings at a National Cancer Research Institute conference that showed that middle-aged spread in men can raise their risk of getting cancer by 50 per cent.

To reduce your risk of getting diabetes

Being overweight is known to increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, but belly fat is the biggest risk of all. Advice from Public Health England suggests that men who measure more than 102cm (40in) round the middle are five times more likely to be diagnosed with the condition than men with a smaller waistline, while women who measure more than 88cm (35in) are three times more likely to have type 2 diabetes.

To lower your blood pressure

Gaining only 5lb of fat round your middle can significantly increase your blood pressure, even if you are otherwise lean and healthy, according to researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. They followed 26 people of normal weight, whose ages ranged from 18 to 48, for eight weeks, asking some to eat an extra 400 to 1,200 calories a day. By the end of the trial a 5-11lb weight gain didn’t affect cholesterol or blood sugar levels, but did significantly increase blood pressure. And if the weight gained was in the abdomen, there was a much sharper rise in blood pressure.

To improve your sex life

Dutch researchers cited abdominal fat as one of the most common causes of erectile dysfunction in men. This is because stomach fat produces enzymes that contract blood vessels and reduce blood flow to the penis. Being overweight also lowers levels of the male hormone testosterone, which can further impact sexual performance.

How to eat to trim your waist

Yes, you do have to cut down on white carbs

We all know that we should reduce “white carbs” such as pasta and rice and doing so really will help to limit bloating so that your stomach is leaner and flatter. Opt for low GI carbs (those with a low score on the glycaemic index) such as sweet potato, buckwheat or quinoa.

Fill up on leafy greens

Broccoli, cabbage, kale and other green vegetables are packed with vitamins and antioxidants that help to combat inflammation, leaving you with a flatter stomach. Several studies have shown that people who get a good amount of calcium from their diet are likely to maintain a healthy weight and have a flatter stomach, and leafy greens are a rich source of calcium. They are also high in fibre, which is vital for good digestion and helps to reduce bloating.

Cut down on sugar

Refined sugar — in sweets, cakes, drinks and biscuits — prompts the storage of body fat and triggers inflammation, which can lead to bloating. Earlier this year a study at Tufts University and Harvard Medical School showed that people who drink the most sugary drinks gain 27 per cent more of the visceral abdominal fat than people who never, or almost never, drink them.

Avoid diet drinks

Diet drinks have been shown in numerous studies to exacerbate the accumulation of abdominal fat, possibly by disrupting the beneficial bacteria in the gut that helps to control weight. Last year the University of Texas found that those who consumed the most diet drinks (at least one can or bottle per day) had a much steeper increase in waist circumference over a number of years than those who didn’t drink them at all.

Eat more protein

Too little protein can reduce muscle mass and lean tissue levels in the body. Over time, a loss of muscle tissue reduces the body’s metabolic rate, which means we find it harder to lose weight. Aim to eat between 45g and 70g a day when working out (to put that into context, an egg has about 6g of protein and a chicken breast about 25g).

Have a shake

A good way to increase your protein intake is through a post-workout shake, but try hemp protein over the more popular whey protein. Hemp contains all of the essential amino acids needed to build and repair muscles and tissue, plus it is easier for the body to digest. Drink it regularly and the improved muscle cell regeneration will help the body to process fats and calories more effectively.

Eat more tuna and mackerel

The healthy fats found in oily fish such as tuna and mackerel, walnuts, flaxseed oil, eggs and edamame beans help to reduce inflammation, keep the body lean and the stomach flat.

Eat avocado for breakfast

Eating some good fats and proteins such as avocado or salmon first thing rather than cereals or toast helps the body to avoid the kind of insulin and blood sugar spikes that can lead to abdominal weight gain.

Cut out alcohol

Alcohol is liquid sugar and has almost no vitamins and minerals. A few years ago, a Danish study showed that beer intake is associated with abdominal obesity in men, while a German study of 160,000 women found that drinking alcohol led to an increased amount of abdominal fat.

Avoid tea and coffee

Caffeine — like stress — raises levels of the hormone cortisol, which promotes fat storage around the abdomen. Research has shown that abdominal fat is the result of a excess calories and spikes in cortisol and insulin.

Stick to these tips and you’ll have the body you want in time for summer. Get working!!

-H
team@ijustbiked.com