Saturday, 6 December 2014

Muffin top melter: Say bye-bye to belly fat!

Hi everyone, I'm back with a new post! Today's topic? The dreaded muffin top, cue the dramatic music! This one is for all you ladies out there. If you're not familiar with the term, it's a rather unflattering way to describe the excess flab that spills out over the top of your pants, much like a muffin bulges over its casing. It's pretty common, too. You only need to take a stroll around your local shopping centre to see it in action. So what's a girl to do!? First, don't panic. Too much stress causes your body to secrete cortisol which, if left unchecked, can contribute to inflammation and fat gain around your belly and hips.

We all get stressed sometimes, and a little can actually be good for us, but too much is a recipe for disaster. If you're chronically stressed, take some time out to recharge and balance yourself emotionally. Yoga and meditation can be great additions as can supplementing your diet with B-vitamins and omega 3 and 6. The mind is an incredibly powerful tool and taking steps to look after your emotional wellbeing will create a rock-solid foundation for the following steps.

DIET: Ugh! You must be sick of hearing it, but it's the truth! What you eat has a profound effect on how you look and feel. The saying 'you are what you eat' has never been more fitting; eat too many  muffins and you'll get a muffin top! This isn't just a coincidence. Muffins, like pastries and waffles, are made from refined carbohydrates which are quickly converted to sugar in the body and spike insulin levels. They also do little to quell your hunger thanks to their low levels of fibre and protein. The same goes for 'comfort' foods such as ice cream, fast food and even some of your favourite Starbucks drinks. This doesn't mean you can't enjoy them, you can. Just don't make them a regular part of your diet. For that, leave it to high quality proteins, complex carbohydrates, leafy green vegetables and natural fats such as those found in nuts, salmon and flax seeds.

EXERCISE: There's no magic recipe here. Exercise burns calories and when combined with a healthy calorie-controlled eating plan is the most effective way to shrink your muffin top. Unfortunately, most women are put off by weight training in fear of bulking up and getting too muscly, but this is nothing more than a common misconception. Women don't have the necessary hormonal requirements (testosterone) for significant muscle growth, so the fear of ending up looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger is unfounded. What regular bouts of weight training does do is increase your metabolic rate, making it easier to lose fat around your belly and hips and keep it off. To maximise your results, combine this with yoga, Pilates and aerobic cardio workouts a few times a week. For more information, checkout leanrunnerbean's best way to lose muffin top article here.

Monday, 20 October 2014

How to Get Abs Fast With Interval Training

Interval training, also known as tabata sprints, is an incredibly powerful way to shed belly fat and get abs. Unfortunately however, most people don't know how to harness it's power and opt instead to run on the treadmill or cycle on the stationary bike for 20 minutes at a time, often at the same pace. There's nothing really 'wrong' with this per say as it does deliver benefits, it's just an ineffective way to train.

The crazy thing is that's it's an incredibly easy training style to use. While it does require more effort for short periods, you get plenty of time to gather your breath and rest before ratcheting up the intensity again, so don't worry! A great way to start is to set yourself 5 cycles of 10 seconds 'high intensity', followed by 20 seconds of 'low intensity' recovery. Typically, you would apply this to your cardiovascular routine, but the same principles can be applied to resistance exercises.  

An important point to remember is to NOT stop moving during your recovery period. If you're working out on a treadmill, a slow walk is perfect and will keep you breathing and enable you to rest sufficiently before picking up the pace again. Interval training works as you're repeatedly able to fully exert yourself for short, manageable periods which is what separates it from more 'traditional' cardio routines.  

The best thing about this training method is that you can modify and customize it to fit your needs and goals. As your level of fitness improves you can increase the challenge by reducing your recovery time or increasing your 'work' time. Here's an awesome video to get you started.      

Sunday, 19 October 2014

The Best Exercises for Fast Abs

What's the best exercise for fast abs? The answer is, it depends! Someone with more body fat to lose would benefit more from high intensity compound exercise routines designed to increase heart rate and maximize calorie burn, while someone who's already 'lean' would see the best results from strengthening-type exercises which target the abdominal area to add definition. That said, people can benefit from both 'forms' of exercise as they both work in synergy towards the common goal of increasing ab visibility.

If you ask a regular gym-goer what the best abs exercise is, there's a good chance they'll reply with the 'crunch' or 'situp'. They're not completely wrong, they're just misinformed - aren't we all! Yes, as far as isolating the midsection and feeling that satisfying 'burn', it's hard to beat the crunch. However, it's not the most effective method. There wouldn't be many people who would offer up answers like the squat and dead-lift.

After all, unless you're 'in the know', why would you? It's a leg exercise, right? It is. But! What is often overlooked though is how much stress and strain are placed upon the entire 'core' area to maintain balance and keep you stable throughout the movement. This provides the core without an excellent workout, combining both strength and flexibility, and is why I always recommend using the squat as an integral part of your workout, regardless of your goal. If you struggle with squats, use the smith-machine or dumbbell exercise variations such as the lunge and step-up until you gain strength and your technique improves.

As for sets and reps, the heavier the weight the more your core will act as a stabilizer while a lighter load will permit more repetitions which will increase caloric expenditure and aid in fat loss - choose accordingly. The benefits we've outlined above can also be achieved with the dead-lift and the plank. If you're going to use the 'plank' position effectively, be sure keep your body in a straight line and pull your tummy up and in, keeping your core tight. Don't let your hips sag down as this will take the tension off your abs and transfer it to your lower back and spine.

Finally, I want to talk about balls, medicine balls that is! Few people make use of them and are too often found sitting unused in a corner of the gym gathering dust. In my opinion, there's no better way to add resistance effectively to 'standard' ab exercises like the crunch and spice things up to keep boredom at bay. The act of holding, catching or throwing the ball during an exercise places the body, especially the core region, under extra tension which forces the body to grow and adapt.

There are literally hundreds of exercises you can use as part of your exercise routine, but what I've outlined above are what will really help you achieve that coveted washboard-look. Above all, it's important to stay consistent in your routine and treat training your abs the same way you would for any other body part. Hopefully you found this short article helpful and can apply some of the tips to your own routine.

For more information on getting abs, I recommend you visit:

Sunday, 29 December 2013

How To Get Abs Fast - Fastest Way to a 6-Pack

One of the most frequent questions I get as a personal trainer is 'how do I get abs fast?'.  My answer every time is hard work, perseverance and the correct exercise and diet strategies. Follow these four principles and anyone can transform their midriff and develop the lean, sexy stomach that so many desire. In this article I am going to share with you everything (except hard work and perseverance - that's up to you) you need to know inside and outside the gym to guarantee six pack success. (Read more here:

One of the biggest mistakes, that still occurs daily, is the misconception that crunches alone will shrink your belly. Walk into any gym and I can almost guarantee you'll spot a middle-aged man or women performing crunches with poor technique. The problem is, this very rarely addresses the fundamental problem. You see, we all have abs, the reason we can't see them though is because of a layer of fat covering them up, and while crunches do activate the abdominal muscles, they do very little to help burn off this fatty layer.

The answer to this is to use compound movements. You can think of these as 'big' movements which use multiple muscle groups which, in turn, uses up more energy in the form of calories. These types of exercises help accelerate results and provide a more efficient workout for your time invested. These specific exercises also have a positive effect on your metabolism, leaving it running in a higher gear after you finish, helping you burn yet more fat. To get all of these effects, I strongly recommend you include exercises such as that require you to pull, press and squat as much as possible.

Another way to accelerate your fat loss efforts is to use interval training. This isn't the same as jumping on a treadmill and jogging consistently for 20 minutes or so. Interval training requires you to alternate between high and low speeds for the full duration. An ideal work/rest ratio would be 20 seconds high intensity work followed by then 40 seconds low intensity slow jog/walk repeated 20 times (20 minutes total). Research shows you can burn up to 3 times more fat compared to steady state exercise of the same duration.

A few other general gym rules include keeping your workout as short, sharp and intense as possible and having a predetermined plan heading into the gym to avoid time wasting. If you stick to everything discussed above, you will no longer need to worry about crunches. Of course, work in the gym is only half the equation. The remaining work is done in the kitchen and is concerned with what you eat and when.

In general, a healthy, well-balanced diet will serve you well. One that includes lean sources of protein (eggs, meat, fish, dairy, legumes), complex carbohydrates (pasta, rice, lentils, bread), healthy fats (avocado, nuts, olive and flax oil) and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables will provide everything your body needs to produce energy, burn fat and keep you full. Also, don't forget to manage your fluid intake. Keep a water bottle with you during the day and limit your intake of soda's and alcohol to just 1-2 a week. Also, depending on your needs, you may wish to invest in a whey protein powder to boost your protein intake. You can mix these in a blender with frozen fruit and low-fat milk. Pea protein and other vegetarian options are also good if you can't tolerate animal-based proteins.      

If you follow all of the principles outline here you can expect to see results within 4-6 weeks. The most important factor in your success is going to be your level of consistency which is why I recommend you keep a training diary to monitor your progress and help you make changes when necessary. If you have any further questions, please leave them in the comments section below.