Why ab work­outs are a waste of time

Lesotho Times - - Health -

YOU have been try­ing for­ever to get that elu­sive six-pack: the holy grail of fit­ness goals. None of the giz­mos and doo­dads ad­ver­tised online or on TV have worked, so you fig­ure it’s time to sign up for that 30-minute abs class at the gym.

Heck, what could be bet­ter for get­ting wash­board abs than do­ing 9 mil­lion crunches, re­verse crunches, twist­ing crunches, crunches with some­one hold­ing your feet, crunches with some­one sit­ting on your chest, crunches with a cin­derblock on your fore­head, right? Wrong. “Ev­ery­one al­ready has a six-pack. It’s just hid­den un­der lay­ers of body fat,” said per­sonal trainer Le­cia Whit­lock, an in­struc­tor at the Na­tional Per­sonal Train­ing In­sti­tute. “The key to get­ting a lean mid­sec­tion is to re­duce your over­all per­cent­age of body fat. And crunches just aren’t a very ef­fec­tive way to do that.”

Los­ing body fat — whether it’s in your arms, legs, hips or abs — is done by cre­at­ing a daily caloric deficit so your body has to tap into stored energy, or body fat, to feed your mus­cles and keep you go­ing.

To do this, you’ll want to launch a three-pronged at­tack.

Build­ing lean mus­cle through re­sis­tance train­ing will force your body to burn more calo­ries daily. Mus­cle is liv­ing tis­sue. The more of it you have and the more of it you use on regularly, the more calo­ries your body re­quires to func­tion prop­erly.

Adding mul­ti­ple bouts of in­tense car­dio­vas­cu­lar work — 30-minute ses­sions three to four times per week — is a quick way to burn big chunks of calo­ries in a short time.

Fi­nally, you’ll want to make sure that your diet isn’t loaded with a lot of ex­tra, empty calo­ries. For the most part, the more calo­ries that you take in, the more you’ll have to burn to lose weight.

“Most peo­ple un­der­es­ti­mate how much they eat and over­es­ti­mate how much they’ve ex­er­cised, and that’s a lethal com­bi­na­tion for some­one try­ing to lose weight,” said Whit­lock.

What’s nice is that the work you’ll be do­ing in the gym — whether it’s strength train­ing or car­dio — can be just as much of a work­out for your mid­sec­tion as any “abs blaster” class at your gym. And choos­ing move­ments that en­gage the abs and other core mus­cles will ac­tu­ally help you in your quest for a trim­mer waist­line.

Try do­ing your chest presses while ly­ing on a sta­bil­ity ball in­stead of on a bench. Re­place the leg presses you do us­ing a ma­chine with just about any type of lunge.

“As your core be­comes stronger, it al­lows you to build your other mus­cles more ef­fec­tively,” Whit­lock ex­plained. “And by build­ing those other mus­cles, you’ll be in­creas­ing your me­tab­o­lism, which is one of the keys to low­er­ing your over­all body fat.”

Con­ve­niently, when it comes to car­dio, the ex­er­cises that chal­lenge your mid­sec­tion are also the ones that have the high­est rates of calo­rie burn.

Think about a kick­box­ing or Latin dance class. Even choos­ing stand­ing ex­er­cises like the el­lip­ti­cal or tread­mill over seated ex­er­cises like the sta­tion­ary bike will cause you to burn more calo­ries per minute and force your mid­sec­tion to work harder.

“When most peo­ple think about their core, they only think about their abs,” said Whit­lock. “In re­al­ity, the core is made up of all the mus­cles that con­trol, move and sta­bi­lize the hips and lower torso.”

So by in­cor­po­rat­ing a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent move­ments into your work­out, you’ll also make sure you’re strength­en­ing your en­tire core.

Weak­ness or mus­cu­lar im­bal­ances in the core can lead to ev­ery­thing from lower back pain to is­sues with your knees and pos­ture. By ditch­ing your abs class in fa­vor of a full-body work­out, you’ll not only be head­ing in a straighter di­rec­tion to­ward your six-pack, but you’ll also be work­ing to pre­vent po­ten­tial in­juries down the road.

Work­out habits you should drop Are you spend­ing hours work­ing out ev­ery week, and not get­ting the re­sults you want?

Chances are you might have a bad habit or two when it comes to ex­er­cis­ing.

Never fear, there’s a quick fix for even the most in­grained work­out no-nos. Check out these seven work­out habits you should drop: Not only will ditch­ing these help you lose the pounds, they will help you be­come a more ef­fi­cient ex­er­ciser. Work­ing out for long pe­ri­ods of

time at a mod­er­ate pace When it comes to work­ing out, slow and steady does not win the race. Max­i­mize your time, peo­ple!

In­stead of work­ing out for an hour at an easy-to-mod­er­ate in­ten­sity level, step it up a notch. Chal­lenge your­self to 30 min­utes of non­stop, in­tense ex­er­cise.

You can take 15- to 30-sec­ond breaks, but move quickly from one work­out to the next. Give it 100 per­cent for 30 min­utes, in­stead of 75 per­cent for an hour.

Lol­ly­gag­ging You know that girl at the gym who’s al­ways fix­ing her hair in the mir­ror? Don’t be her. Come to the gym with a time frame and a plan.

This means no wan­der­ing around, no tex­ting your boyfriend in be­tween reps. Come with a set work­out to com­plete, lim­it­ing your wa­ter breaks to spe­cific points in your cir­cuit for a des­ig­nated amount of sec­onds.

If this means writ­ing down your reg­i­men, great. Tat­too it to your arm. What­ever. Make the most of your time. Get in, get out. No one likes a gym rat.

Too much car­dio and too lit­tle

strength train­ing But car­dio burns more calo­ries, right? Not so fast, lady.

Sure, an hour on the tread­mill gives you that in­stant sat­is­fac­tion of burn­ing 400 calo­ries. Or so that lit­tle blink­ing screen says. A quick strength train­ing or cross train­ing ses­sion, how­ever, will get your heart rate up, burn calo­ries, and de­velop your lean mus­cle mass.

Build­ing mus­cle means that those mus­cles are able to work through­out the day burn­ing more calo­ries when you aren’t work­ing out.

Hy­drat­ing with sports drinks

Sports drinks may give you a boost, but are full of sugar and calo­ries. Dur­ing any given daily work­out, hy­drat­ing with plain ol’ wa­ter should do the trick just fine.

If you feel tired dur­ing your work­out, try fu­el­ing be­fore. Eat­ing a healthy snack 45 min­utes be­fore your work­out can give you more energy, and al­low you to skip the Ga­torade. Try some al­mond but­ter on toast.

Do­ing the same ex­er­cises over

and over again When you do the same work­out rou­tine over and over, your body gets used to it and it be­comes eas­ier.

The Stair­mas­ter might have been chal­leng­ing at one point, but pretty soon your mus­cles be­come fa­mil­iar with that mo­tion. Your body only uses half the energy to com­plete this task that at one point had you huff­ing and puff­ing your way to the locker room.

Mix it up. By chang­ing your work­outs daily you will trick your body into work­ing harder and burn­ing more calo­ries. It will also save you from bore­dom.

Go­ing it alone Work­ing out alone can be great. It gives you time to clear your mind, lis­ten to mu­sic, and feel the burn.

How­ever, some­times it takes a work­out buddy to hold you ac­count­able. Work­ing out with a part­ner not only makes it more likely that you’ll work out, it makes most peo­ple try harder than they would on their own. Your part­ner can cheer you on to fin­ish that last half mile or to fin­ish those last four dead­lifts.

And let’s not for­get the power of good old-fash­ioned com­pe­ti­tion. If your friend is do­ing 50 lunges, don’t you sud­denly feel inspired to do 51? — CNN

Build­ing mus­cle, adding car­dio and watch­ing your diet bet­ter than crunches, ex­perts say.

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