Why Can’t I See My Abs?
There really isn’t a short answer to this question. You can be incredibly lean and not have ab-appearance if you neglect to train our core. You can also build an incredibly strong core with a variety of isolated and compound movement but without a body fat percentage under 10% you might not see those rippling muscles underneath the blanket of fat. Then you have people who “do all the right thing” and still struggle. This is where things get complex. So what exactly are the right ways to get “ab-perance” the healthy way? And what about those people who do all the right things with no luck?
- You’re not isolating your abdominal: I hear a lot of fitness and movement experts talk about isolation exercises as unnecessary. To a degree, I absolutely agree. We can spend so much time analyzing and in the process of – due to our fear to just do it- that we miss the whole point. Why do we want strong muscles? To do a back flip, to run, to jump, to make love, to move! As Ido Portal says “we don’t want to bench press os much, we want to move.” It’s a good question to ask, what are we training for? In this case, I am all for just doing it, as Nike would say. If we spend hours crunching away on a floor, doing repetitive abdominal workouts and do not apply movement, then we are just stuck on the floor. We got so good at ab-workouts we forgot how to run and climb! So just move! Get up and run, jump, climb, slither around. It’s all good and it will all engage your abs. Then there is the other side of the truth; many people do not even know how to flex their core muscles. Without muscle awareness in your abdominal you can engage in full functional workouts and not actually get a core workout or even hurt your back by overcompensating. Lack of muscle awareness will always leave you compromising, no matter how intensely you move. For those who are just starting out with exercise especially would benefit from a designing a ab-routine that consists of a mix of isolated and compound core workouts such as: rotation lunges, cable twists, barbell squats, weighted crunches, leg lifts, L-sits and swiss ball planks.
- Your body fat is too high- You can workout your core like crazy but if you have a blanket of belly fat you won’t be able to see even the strongest most sculpted ab muscles. Ideally, you want to keep your body fat under 10% to see have that ab-perance. Caution keeping body fat too low, as you need body fat to have proper hormone function. The 7-12% range is normal. Anything below that can wreak havoc on your hormonal system. I have been able to maintain 7% body fat for years with keeping a very healthy hormonal balance. You cannot target body fat-loss; however, it can come on in troubeld areas. Belly fat is usually a result of elevated cortisol levels from emotional stress due to repressed anger.We often add weight to our bodies out of fear and need for protection. De-compress anger daily with keeping a gratitude journal. Create a fitness routine that involves boxing, sprinting or anything you feel helps you shift anger and emotions out of your body. Another major cause of too much body fat is diet of course. Eating right for your unique body-type is key to minimizing stress and increasing metabolism. Adding a cup of coconut kefir to each meal will sky-rocket metabolism and ensure digestion of each meal so no food is left undigested and store as body fat.
- You don’t have enough variety in exercise- Your body thrives off variety. I once heard someone say that the world is a book, if you do not travel then you’ve only read one page. The same goes for our bodies. Fitness is a microcosm of the collective world. What nourishes our lives nourishes our bodies. If you are not seeing definition in your abs then you could benefit from giving your ab-routine a more cultured and diverse workout. The popular P90x coined the term “muscle confusion” and the proof is in the pudding here. All growth comes from new experiences, With your muscles the same is true. Adding variety to your workouts will help your muscles grow. You want a mix of strong stabilizer muscles and larger fascia muscles. Try innovative workouts that hit all areas of stability, flexation and extension. A easy way to do this is take your regular floor workouts to an Indo-Board, Swiss Ball or Bosu-Ball. These all add a balance and stability element that will rip up your core! Incorporate Yoga, Dance or Zumba into your routine. Any type of movement that challenges your nervous system to move in a new and creative way will provide new growth to dormant muscless.
- Your diet and digestion are off- When your diet is off, you create digestive and metabolic stress on your system. As I spoke about in the first part of this series, if you are not digesting well chances are your not digesting your exercises. Gut-inflammation will keep you from any sort of fitness gain. Many times digestive distress causes bloating that hides your abs. Dealing with this stress is your body’s priority, sexy abs will come secondary. If your lacking in your diet you will be lacking else where. I often say “you are not what you eat, you are what you digest”. Just because you’re eating meals and working out does not mean you are absorbing them. If you know diet is an area you are lacking in, then make it priority now. You can get meal plans that simplify healthy eating, read books, determine your metabolic type or hire a personal coach to optimize your health and digestion. The correct diet will be one that is digestible, tasty, and nourishing on all levels.
- Your identity is sabotaging your success- Our subconscious minds are powerful machines. Whatever you think and then believe in your heart is who you will be. Now, this isn’t truly who you are. Who you are is unlimited potential. You can be, do or have whatever you believe you deserve. Where our subconscious minds work aginst us is that they limit us. For example, lets imagine you’ve experience tons of joy from being an elementary teacher. However, you are overweight and dream to have a six-pack but your students love you. As you identified yourself as a good teacher; based on the love you receive from your students, you look around for evidence to support your identity. Your evidence is going to come from your reality; your tell good jokes, you listen well, you’re fat. These are all parts of your reality you use to identify with to support your experience. The problem is when we create identities we also create limitations. One part of you wants to be a teacher, another part of you wants to be healthy, yet you’ve so strongly associated yourself with your current reality that you cannot move past it. To avoid sabotaging your weight-loss journey you must then expand your identity. You have to see yourself as something more than just an overweight teacher. The best way to do this is through meditation then jouraling our thoughts and beliefs. It’s easy to see how silly it is to put ourselves in a box. We attempt to pigeon hole life because we like to understand things, we enjoy the comfort of knowing and fear not knowing. However, we narrow our selves when we need to be expanding ourselves. You can overcome the limiting identities you have by writing out your beliefs and see where they are restricted or shrinking your reality. Then decide to expand yourself. Decide certain parts of your beliefs of yourself are limiting your life experience. You can keep the good about yourself and replace what’s limiting with something new. You can be the lovable teacher who is fit and healthy too.
These are the biggest blocks keeping you from your dream body. If you are not getting the results you want then you have to change something you’re doing or the way you’re thinking. Remember, “the principle always work if you work the principles”.
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I’m interested where you might find yourself stuck and if these tips provided the clarity you needed! Comment below and share your experience with me!