Having flat, toned abdominals is a distant aim for many people leading up to the summertime.

The truth is that getting something resembling a six pack is really not an overnight job. If a toned up tummy is on your wish list, then taking action now can set you up for a lean and mean summertime physique!

The previous fitness mission articles are listed below and feature plenty of exercises and whole body workouts to tone your muscles and burn off excess calories.

The video below features some abdominal exercise tips that you can try at home and is split into four separate days. I suggest using abdominal exercises after you have tried one of the other workouts and before you stretch. After you have tried the exercises I have included some extra tips that can help you get slimmer by the summer – so keep reading after the videos.

To trim your tummy down, reducing abdominal fat and developing the muscles that hide underneath it are essential. The tips below have helped me and my clients to attain and maintain a flat tummy.

Be aware these tips are aimed at people with no pre-existing stomach disorders; and are meant as general guidelines on healthy eating for weight loss. You should always consult your G.P before making any drastic lifestyle changes!

1. Carbohydrates are sugary/ starchy foods and are broken down to form your body’s primary fuel for movement. If you move around lots then you will burn off some of the energy you have eaten. The energy you don’t burn off is stored in your liver and muscles to use when you need it, but if your stores are already full then what happens to the excess? In people who are inactive it is highly likely that; excess carbohydrate based foods end up adding to body fat stores.

Don’t get me wrong - over consumption of any food group of course can contribute to fat storage! But carbohydrates tend to taste pretty good, and those carbs with a higher glycemic index (GI) cause a rapid blood sugar rise and drop, that makes you crave more and only those with some serious will power can resist.

Obesity statistics suggest that a high percentage of us consume more energy than we actually need to keep us moving, therefore we are left with an energy surplus that in the end equals fat! Evaluate your carb consumption if you do not do any exercise and wish to lose weight, even if you regularly exercise it may be useful to review how you fuel your body.

So here are a few guidelines:

High GI food examples are; white bread, white pasta, white rice, potatoes, a large number of breakfast cereals and anything that you know is very high in sugar! Unless it’s straight after a hard workout you do not want to be consuming high GI foods.

Whole wheat/ grain breads and pastas are favourable over the white ones for an easy change - they will keep you fuller for longer, and help stop you reaching for more. Even better are foods like beans (not caked in sugary tomato sauce, try making a homemade healthier sauce), brown rice, most vegetables – especially ‘above the ground’ veg and some fruits.

2. Protein foods are responsible for so many bodily functions that I am not even going to try to list them all – I am just going to say that they are so important that you simply must eat protein foods. In the fitness world people generally talk about the importance of protein for repair and growth of muscle. Eating high quality meat (limit red meat and fat on the meat), poultry, fish, eggs and dairy along with lower GI vegetables, helps repair muscles, keeps your blood sugar levels stable and reduces sugar cravings that add to the waistline.

3. Fats – are often misunderstood! Good fats are very good and bad fats – well guess what! While high fat foods are calorie dense and over consumption can undoubtedly lead to actually being fat, fats are essential for human health.

Fat can be used for energy at low exercise intensity or after the carbohydrate derived energy stores I mentioned earlier are depleted.

Fats are essential in; the absorption of vital vitamins, healthy brain function, hormone regulation, generating and maintaining healthy cells and keeping your skin healthy. You are probably already aware that there are good fats and bad fats.

The NHS recommends cutting down on saturated fat and many packaged foods now carry a colour coded “health” traffic light warning so you can make informed food choices. Look out for and limit anything that contains hydrogenated fats or oils, and where possible avoid fried food. Smarter food choices when it comes to fat are oily fish (although it is argued that heavy metal pollution of the seas makes eating oily fish excessively a health risk), nuts, seeds, and avocados and organic olive oil are great options and all feature on my shopping list.

Currently coconut oil is being hailed by many researchers and doctors as possessing amazing benefits for health including supporting a healthy metabolism and improving heart health. Try your own Google search and see if you think adding coconut oil to your shopping list could be worthwhile. Remember all fats are highly calorific so be careful not to over eat them.

4. Drink two to three litres of water a day to boost your metabolism and satiate hunger

5. Ditch the booze – alcohol contains empty calories so will not help you get lean

6. Work out using big movements to boost your metabolism then finish off sessions with abdominal exercises to sculpt and strengthen your mid section.

I hope these tips help you to make a difference and help get you started on your summer body. By the middle of May you could be looking and feeling great – go and get in the shape you want to be in.

For personal training, group exercise or high intensity interval training check out www.kriscannpersonaltraining.co.uk, follow me on Twitter @KrisCannPT or find me on Facebook at Kris Cann Personal Training.

I will be back with next fitness mission article in four weeks – until then stay healthy, happy and fit.