Recently, women’s fashion has become completely merciless. Short tops, skinny jeans, skirts with low waist. And it’s clear that stomach becomes the center of attention now. You can hide fat thighs or legs with the help of some tricks, but it won’t work with the belly. There is only one way out – sit-ups.
We asked famous fitness-diva Madonna Grimes to help us with this difficult issue. Just look at her waist!
Which is the best way of doing sit-ups?
Unfortunately, no miracle method has been invented yet that would make everyone envy your stomach. The recipe of slim waist is still the same it was half a century ago in the era of the first bodybuilding competitions: sweatshop workouts plus diet. On the other hand, we’ve learned some important secrets about sit-ups.
Secret # 1: the best exercise is lifting straight legs (knees) in a hanging position on a crossbar. Of course this is a difficult exercise! But it will lead your waist to a desired goal faster than the others. Special elbow straps will facilitate your movements. You hang on them as a parachutist and are no longer scared that your hands will not bear the body weight and unclench ahead of time.
Secret # 2: a crazy amount of repetitions won’t do any good. The more doesn’t mean the better. The thing is, abs work together with the flexor muscles on the hips. The abs themselves, as doctors say, are able to endure only 12-20 repetitions. When you do more than 15-20 repetitions, there is a risk that all the other repetitions will be performed by the flexor muscles. That’s exactly what we don’t need. Flexor muscles, laying deep in the female pelvis, become stiff, shorten the length of the hip joints and provoke traumatic bias of its biomechanics. After a few years of thoughtless abs «bombing» women start having constant tormenting back pains. If you can easily do 30 repetitions of some exercise for abs, you should rather do another, more difficult exercise, or use additional weights.
In order to not put yourself at risk, specialists advise to stick to 8-15 repetitions of sit-ups.
Secret # 3. Always crouch or bend your legs in a bench press machine while exhaling. Doing otherwise (inhaling) makes abdominal pressure dangerously increase and stretch your abdominal wall. The abs will be tight, but the stretched abdominal muscle will bulge forward, and you won’t look like a fitness lady at all.
Secret # 4. The intestine is the storage of fluid reserves in the body. Special hormones are responsible for these reserves. Sometimes women can have problems with these hormones – there might be too many of them. Excess fluid ruptures the waist, and exercising won’t help here. Only endocrinologist can help. If you have puffy bags under the eyes in the morning, please visit the doctor.
I want to have a child, but I’m scared to “lose” my waist after giving birth. Is there anything I can do about it?
Some experts advise to go to the gym almost on the second day after giving birth. Working out will do you good, there is no doubt. But the most important thing is the kind of abs you have when you get pregnant. If you have strong trained abdominal muscles, you have all the chances to get your slim waist back. If the abs were weak, then abdominal wall might get stretched, and the prospect of a slim waist will be doubtful.
A lot of fitness-clubs are now promoting Core Training method. Will it help to tighten abdominal muscles?
The main idea of the method is to do exercises on an unstable support. Few people know that abdominal muscles help us to keep balance. That’s why exercises on an unstable support make our abs stronger. But if your abs haven’t been trained for a long time, such a training load won’t be enough.
I’ve decided to start doing pilates and yoga. Will these sports help to strengthen abs muscles?
Yes. Both these techniques are very useful. Pilates and yoga equally make all abdominal muscles groups work in the most effective and natural physiological mode. What’s most important is that yoga and pilates help to get a straight posture, which has a positive effect on the abdominal muscles state. Slouching and falling out stomach usually go hand in hand. Straight spine and weak abs are incompatible.
How often should you do sit-ups? And how much?
Abs muscles restore quickly, which means you can do sit-ups often – up to 5 times a week, or even every day. If your goal is to make your stomach flat, there is no need to use additional weights. Body weight is enough to “tighten” abs muscles. But you should do a lot of sets – about 15-20. But quantity is more important than quality. Many people do sit-ups at a fast pace, which isn’t correct. Do repetitions at moderate pace and technically accurate.
Some people say that crunches on a swiss ball are more effective than crunches on the floor. Is it true?
Yes, it is. The thing is, when doing exercise on an unstable ball, you have to balance, straining the entire complex of the abdominal muscles, including the external oblique muscles. When you do the same exercise on the floor, only one straight muscle works. Moreover, scientists are confident that such a selective effect on the muscle is ineffective. It is not natural – in real life, any change in the position of the body is accompanied by the work of all the waist muscles, up to the lower back muscles. The ball copies the natural conditions, and therefore is more effective. To maintain balance, you have to strain your abdominal muscles, even in the pause between repetitions. Can it happen on the floor? No.
I managed to get the first line of six pack, but the lower part of abs is no good. What should I do?
The lower part of the rectus muscle is weakly innervated. In other words, it has fewer nerves, and therefore this part of the abs responds worse to the training load. By the way, for the same reason, sighting exercises for the lower abdomen seem more difficult. We are talking about reverse crunches when you bring your knees to your head, and not vice versa. Lifting legs/knees in suspension will also help you, as well as sit-ups on the decline bench when your feet are fixed on top. Another thing is that you need to redraw your complex of exercises for abs and do all these at the very beginning of your workout. In fitness, there is a simple rule: the “weak” area is pumped first. However, exercises are not omnipotent. The lower abdomen is a place of blood circulation stagnation during sedentary work, therefore fat gets deposited there more. For the same reason, it is extremely difficult to get rid of it there. Exercises are good, but other special measures should be taken against blood stagnation. Every 30-45 minutes, get up from your desk and take a short walk.
At lunchtime, try to take a stroll in any weather. Even when sitting, strain the abs as often as possible. This will help blood circulation.
I often see a TV ad of electro stimulator that helps to get rid of stomach fat. Does it really work?
The device that caught your attention is used by physiotherapists for revitalization of inactive muscles that were weakened by a disease. Electric impulse transmitted through the muscle provokes its involuntarily contraction. This is clearly not enough to tighten the abs.
What if I will use the electro stimulator 24 hours a day? Let the abs contract even in sleep!
Unfortunately, quantity here doesn’t mean quality. Even millions of electric impulses won’t be able to burn fat or make a six pack. The thing is, fat gets burned only under the stressful physical exertion. Physical stress triggers the secretion of specific hormones that burn the fat. The same hormonal mechanism lays in the basis of muscle growth. Weak muscle contraction won’t have the same impact on hormonal balance. By the way, the advertisement of such stimulators have recently been banned by law in California in order not to mislead consumers!
Slow and Steady Wins The Weight Loss Race
These are very fast and impatient times – an illustration of the old Queen hit “I Want It All”. People want to get rich, popular and thin fast – and they will go to painful lengths to achieve these dreams. It only takes the imminence of a special event, such as going to a wedding, to the beach or to the homecoming ball, and a lot of people want to shed overnight the extra pounds they have neglected for months.
However, the best results, the ones that last, are those obtained in time, through a healthy and steady combination of the right diet and adequate exercise. Here are the main reasons why you should not go for the quick and drastic measures.
1. Avoid the Yo-Yo Effect
After you have drastically deprived your body of all comfort food and you got that flat stomach you wanted, you feel rewarding yourself. It is just human nature. It starts with a cookie and continues to a bag of chips and a soda pop…until you realize that your stomach is no longer flat, and you have actually gained more weight than you lost.
2. Be Kind to Yourself
A steady, long-term healthy diet blends nutritious food with some of your favorite snacks (minus the absolutely unhealthy ones). You can enjoy a steak, a slice of Camembert cheese and a slice of birthday cake without feeling guilty about cheating on your diet – because it is not an excessively restrictive diet. At the same time, you experience a steady weight loss, reach the ideal weight and maintain it, because you do not start giving in to various cravings.
3. Avoid Getting Swamped in Exercise Routines
Treadmill, elliptic bicycle, crunches and push-ups? Or maybe Pilates and Kangoo jumps? When you are lost between several exercising routines and try to pick the best of each of them for quick, maximum results, you will end up doing nothing properly. You will shed your last drop of sweat on the treadmill and be exhausted by the time you were supposed to start doing crunches.
Instead, pick a fitness regime that is suitable for your current abilities to sustain effort and gradually increase the duration and difficulty of the exercises. Most importantly, choose a routine that you like. If you enjoy swimming, then incorporate it into your fitness schedule as much as possible. The secret is to do something fun, which seems effortless and you can do for a long time without getting bored or annoyed.
4. Avoid Developing a Negative Perception of Yourself
When trying a drastic approach to weight loss, every time you fail to reach a milestone, you will feel disappointed. Miss a few milestones in a row and you will develop a negative view of your abilities to stick to a diet or exercise schedule.
You are not supposed to be a super hero of weight loss and prove anything to anyone. All you need is to find a long lasting routine that is both effective and within your abilities to keep up with.
5. Find Your Way and Keep It
Long-term healthy weight loss routines and natural diet supplements will turn into an everlasting healthy lifestyle. You will not feel tempted to abandon your diet or the physical activities you are doing right now because you love them, they make you look good and feel good. This is how you get to achieve and keep that perfect body you were dreaming of.
It will not be just for a season, for a special event and then back to your flabby self, it will be for good and without too much sacrifice, but only if you do it slow and steady, the right way.