Think you can’t have abs after your 20’s or 30’s? Well I love a good challenge so I was up to it as I turned 40…and in turn, signed up to take on the stage for my very first fitness competition!
As a mom of 3 and a 40 year old, I committed to donning a two piece and walking on stage amongst other fit women; who, quite honestly, were in their 20’s and 30’s.
You could say I was nuts…and probably still am because I don’t regret it. Yes, I got flack for being an “egotist” and embarrassing my family but they were all supportive – especially my dear hubby! He was darn right proud!
Why? Because let me tell you what you are seeing when you look at someone with toned abs and a tight physique. You may be thinking they are naturally leaner, fitter and just more lucky…but you’d be wrong.
It takes hard FREAKING work! Every day.
I haven’t done another fitness competition since and it’s now been 5 years. It’s not that I didn’t want to continue; heck, I placed 2nd in my division and 3rd overall (which included those 20 and 30 year olds, thank you very much!) and qualified for Nationals that same year.
The reason I didn’t compete again is because it’s a full time job.
You need to train like a “mother” (and I don’t mean someone who’s had children) and you have to eat like an athlete. The time and energy it takes to cook, workout, rest, recover and continue is time consuming and I’d rather spend that time with my family while they still need me. 🙂
But I did learn quite a many lessons from those intense 6-months of training and counting every macro and morsel that I ate. In case you think you can’t have abs – most likely because of what you’ve been taught over the years and what other people have said – I’m hear to debunk every one of those crazy negative issues and tell you that it’s most likely because you’re not informed well-enough.
Intrigued? Follow along…
1. Squeeze in “sneaky” cardio. You’ve heard the saying that in order to lose weight, you’ve got to ‘move more and eat less’, right? Well the moving more part can help trim those abs, buns and everything else across your body but if you’re like me, it needs to not feel like cardio. I can easily fit in a 5 minute jump rope session in between a busy day’s schedule or add some sprints or burpees in between my weight lifting routine to up the calorie burn and get it done in increments. If you detest long cardio sessions like I do, then fitting in these sneaky cardio burns can make all the difference in showing off those abs come summer season!
2. Combine core work and cardio. As I said before, I love fitting in small increments of cardio in between my weight lifting sessions. In order to get into the shape I needed to for my competition, I committed to circuit training on most days. This meant that while I’d perform my typical chest, back, leg, etc, days; I’d follow up a set of weight work with 30-60 seconds of jump squats, mountain climbers or jump rope which allowed me to get the most out of my workout sessions. Bonus? While these aren’t technically “ab crunches”, they do indeed involve core activation and help to carve out those abs!
3. Start with planks & not crunches. It’s not that I don’t like doing crunches – because I do – I prefer engaging my core entirely and “feeling the burn” is a great indication that work has been done! Did you know that your booty is actually part of your core? True story. But doing crunches doesn’t activate the glutes like planks do and most people usually resort to momentum while doing crunches and feel it in their neck. Not really the goal, am I right? It’s important to strengthen the entire core – imagine you have a wide girdle that covers the areas below your chest and stops just under your booty (this is your core) – before you progress to moves like crunches so you can master the moves instead of just the stuff on top. 😉 Along with planks, I’d suggest also beginning by lying on your back and raising your feet up and knees bent at 90 degrees. Place your hands on your quads (front part of your thighs) and push them away from your body as you engage your core to keep the knees over your hips. (you’ll feel these if done right)
4. Work your abs every day — but not in the same way daily. Your core muscles recover quite quickly so you can actually work them more often than other parts of your body without over-training. The secret however, is to change it up. For example, if you do planks on Monday, try doing C-curves (a Pilates type exercise) on Tuesday. How? Sit with your knees bent and the soles of your feet on the floor. Prop your upper body onto your forearms. Then, without changing the angle your upper and lower body have to the floor, place one hand at a time behind each thigh. Hold as long as you can, just as you would in plank.
5. Eat for awesome abs. Here’s where most of us get lost. We think that by workout out with enough cardio and performing our ab routines daily, we can get away with eating our favorite foods and just “eating better”. What the heck does this mean, anyway? LOL I’m guilty of saying this before too so I’m not calling you out in any way. I found that just by honing in on a few key areas, I was able to lean out sooner and much easier than when I ate “clean” and counted calories. Want to know how? Start with getting in a protein drink no later than 30 minutes after your workout since the quickest way to recover the tears in your muscles after you workout is to get protein into your body quickly. I use either a clean whey protein (no sucralose or unhealthy ingredients added) or Shakeology for my fuller-packed nutritional punch. Follow that up by drinking at least 4 liters to a gallon of water each day and eating whole grain carbs and healthy fats. If you need some help with foods, check out my healthy food list to plan out your meals for the week or month.
BONUS!! I’m super excited to bring my all-new FITNESS MEMBERSHIP SITE to you!! It’s been something I’ve dreamed of launching for almost a year now and I’m set to open this coming June! If you’d like priority information, please shoot me an email and title it “MEMBERS ONLY” and I’ll get you all the info as it rolls out! LIVE workouts, meal plans, personal help and more! Community like no other with support, accountability and TONS of content!