Want to go from flab to flat abs? Pilates, the exercise loved by toned celebs such as Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Aniston is famous for developing strength, flexibility and coordination, not to mention fabulous abs and it can be appreciated by everyone. Combine it with a healthy diet and cardio regime and you'll start to see a six-pack emerging in no time.
To begin the journey, follow these steps, designed by fitness expert Rocco Sorace, for a six-week jumpstart to flatter abs.
Step one: Get a physical
Talk to your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine. Even if you're healthy, if you have not exercised on a regular basis, it's a great time to get a physical. It's a good measure of your success to be able to look back at your pre-exercise physical and compare it to the results later on.
Step two: Eat well
What we eat is responsible for what our bodies use for fuel and what it stores as fat. The key to burning fat is providing the right fuel at the right time. Don't skip meals and be sure to eat as much natural food as you can, free of preservatives, artificial flavours and colours. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and remember to drink at least eight glasses of water each day to stay hydrated.
Step three: Get your heart pumping!
The secret ingredient in this recipe is cardio and more cardio. Spice it up with intense cardio. In the first few weeks, to burn fat you need to spend 20 to 30 minutes doing cardiovascular exercise, at least three times per week. Jump on the treadmill, bike or get outdoors for a power walk.
Step four: Add Pilates
A Pilates program is designed to refine and define the exercise routine. Pilates works the rectus abdominis muscle (six pack), external and internal obliques (side abs), and the muscle known as the transverse abdominis (the inner layer abs).
These deep abdominal muscles help to support and flex the spine. Good conditioning is required not only to protect the spine and lower back but also to ensure good posture. Pilates exercises will target these muscles and create the long, lean and strong six-pack abs we crave.
Step five: Increase intensity
Increase the cardio intensity during weeks three and four to 45 minutes each session. Picking up the pace during your power walk from 5km/h to 6.5km/h can double your benefit. If you cannot find 45 minutes to dedicate to a power walk, break it up throughout the day. Fifteen minutes in the morning and at lunch, then another 15 after dinner. It all adds up!
Step six: Add interval training
Add interval training to weeks five and six. Interval training is a great way to keep exercise interesting and fun. Try switching from treadmill walking to sprinting for five minutes. Or if you are walking outdoors, look for some stairs to climb or add lunges to mix it up.
Rocco Sorace has just released a series of new Fitness DVDs: Fitness Pilates: Intermediate Workout, Fitness Pilates: Advanced Workout and the Mind & Body Boot Camp (each $24.95). All three DVDs are available from all major retailers or online at www.duke.com.au or www.focussfitness.com.