Fitness

Mind and Body - Ab, and how!

Change your routine from time to time to challenge your muscles.  

Toned and chiselled abdominals rank high in most people's wish list. This is why abdominal training is one of the most sought after fitness regimes.

Apple-shaped bodies

Excess abdominal fat or apple-shaped obesity is a risk factor for heart disease, whereas weight gain in the hips and thighs does not have the same magnitude of risk.

Use a measure tape to assess the circumference of your abdominal. An abdominal circumference of more than 40 inches in men and more than 35 inches in women signifies obesity.

Abdominal anatomy

Knowledge of your ab anatomy will make it possible for you to put your mind on the muscle that you are working. This mental focus is what makes all the difference between a good workout and a great workout.

The rectus abdominus

This is the famous “six-pack”, the rippling washboard. It is one long sheath that runs from your sternum to your pubic bone.

The external and internal oblique muscles

Whenever you twist your torso or bend to the side, you are working your obliques.

The transverse muscle

This is a deep internal muscle that runs underneath the rectus abdominus, and the internal and external obliques. It is a very important player in the overall appearance of your mid-section.

Frequently asked questions on abs

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions floating around when it comes to working the abs. Read these most frequently asked questions to clear your mind of all confusion.

If I do hundred sit-ups a day, will I get a sculpted stomach?

The quality of exercise you are doing is more important than the number of repetitions. Also, you need to progress into your exercise routine gradually; or else you can end up with an aching and sore back. If sit-ups are easy for you challenge your muscles with other exercises. It is always better to do a combination of different exercises to target the ab muscle in different ways, rather than focussing on sit-ups alone.

Everyone has a different body type and fitness level. Use your muscles effectively and learn to listen to your body. Progress gradually, increasing the intensity, as your muscles get stronger.

All I want is a toned stomach. So why do I need to strengthen my back?

Always remember to strengthen your back muscles when you do your ab training routine. A strong back and abs are necessary to create muscular balance in the body. For example, if you train the abs and forget about the back, you will end up creating weak back muscles.

Think of your torso — your abs are in front, the back muscles, are behind and the oblique muscles (waist), are at the sides. In order to create a balance in your mid-section, you need to work all these areas.

Are “genes” responsible for fab abs?

Yes, it is true that some people are genetically fortunate. While others need to work harder to get results. Each person's body structure is unique. Why expend unnecessary energy on envying somebody else's genes?

Let your focus be making an effort to get the best possible abs for your body type.

How am I to know if I am doing the exercises correctly?

When you work your ab muscles, you should feel them contract.

Instead, if you feel a strain in your back and neck, you need to alter your training technique.

Pay attention to movement and technique when you perform exercises. If you pay attention to correct form you can avoid injury and exercise the muscle spot-on. That's the power of your mind. Use it.

What is the one best exercise I can do for my abs?

Unfortunately, there is no one best exercise for training the abs.

Focus on doing the movement right so that the exercise works for you. This means no sloppy, or half-hearted movements.

Imagine gymnasts, acrobats, or dancers performing their skills without control and focus. The result would be disastrous! Lack of control and concentration is the primary reason why injuries occur and results are then hard to get.

I just can't get rid of the layer of fat on my stomach. What should I do?

The best way to burn fat is through diet modification and exercise. Cut out empty calories and eat sensibly. Simple exercises such as walking, swimming, cycling and running are effective for burning calories.

The reality is that no number of crunches will get rid of the flab from your stomach. The only way to get rid of the layer of fat from your stomach is to cut down on calories and perform cardiovascular exercises to burn calories.

How often should I train my abs?

Aim to perform the ab exercise routine twice or thrice a week. Never repeat the same workout within a 48-hour period. Like any other muscle in your body, the abs also need a day's rest in-between sessions to recuperate.

Once I get my chiselled abs, how do I hang on to them?

Keep on exercising and eat healthy.

Change your routine from time to time to challenge your muscles.

Concentrate on performing high-quality reps, rather than doing mechanical movements.

The writer is a certified Clinical Exercise Specialist, Lifestyle and Weight Management Specialist.

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Printable version | May 4, 2021 9:06:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/fitness/Mind-and-Body-Ab-and-how/article15581901.ece

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