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Updated: September 21, 2009 09:51 IST

Iron it out

S. BASU
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FOR A STRONG CORE Do abdomen crunches along with cardio
AP FOR A STRONG CORE Do abdomen crunches along with cardio

Forget the hundred sit-ups. The key to a flat tummy lies in eating right and training more

Are you wasting your time doing abdomen crunches?

I can’t tell you how often I hear someone at the end of the workout say: “I need to do more abs; I want to get that six-pack.” The truth is that passing up a six-pack is a better way to get a six-pack than 600 sit-ups. The key to abdominal definition is the visibility of the abdominal musculature, not the strength of the muscles.

You can do a million sit-ups, crunches or any other exercise and it will have no effect on abdominal definition. The best exercise for abs is table push-aways. If you want better abs, eat right and train more but, don’t just train your abs.

The idea of working abs to get abs is one of the oldest misconceptions in training. This goes back to the idea of spot reduction. Spot reduction will never work. You can’t decrease the fat layer on a particular area by working that area. That means that the guys doing sit-ups to lose abdominal fat and the lady sitting on the adductor (inner thigh) machine are both wasting their time. Good total body work is the key to fat loss.

Want better abdominal definition? Finish every workout with some hard interval training instead of extra sit-ups or crunches. Interval training or what is currently called High Intensity Interval Training (abbreviated HIIT) is the real key to fat loss and the resulting definition. Interval training burns more calories than steady state aerobic training and because it is a sprint programme you get a sprinter’s body.

Abdominal training may reduce the diameter of the waistline but, will not do anything to reduce body fat. The truth is there are lots of good reasons to do abdominal work or core training as we now like to call it. A strong core (strong abs) is one of the keys in the prevention of back pain. A strong core will help you look better and improve performance in a host of sports but sit-ups or any other abdominal exercise will not reduce body fat.

Another tip: Don’t just do hundreds of crunches. A good abdominal or core programme is a lot more than crunches. In fact a great deal of your core work should be isometric exercises like front planks and side planks. One of the major functions of the core musculature is the prevention of motion. Work on the stability function, not just on flexion and extension.

(The writer is a CSCS (NSCA), C.H.E.K. and expert trainer)

Keywords: dietfitnessexercise

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