Gym-Free Abs

Eight ways train­ing your abs im­proves your life

Men's Health (South Africa) - - HEALTH - BY MARK BARROSO

Just use this po­tent 10-minute work­out

TTHE DREAM OF wash­board abs is prob­a­bly the ul­ti­mate rea­son why you suf­fer through long planks and end­less situps. But along the way to that six-pack, you’ll see even big­ger ben­e­fits. Here are eight great rea­sons to stay mo­ti­vated on ab day.

1/ Own Your Sport

Core train­ing makes you a bet­ter ath­lete in just about any strength or speed sport, says Stu­art McGill, a pro­fes­sor of spine biome­chan­ics at the Univer­sity of Water­loo. That’s be­cause a strong core lets you transfer more power to your limbs so you can punch harder, smash a drive fur­ther and kick a ball with more force.

2/ Boost Bal­ance

“A strong core keeps your torso in a more sta­ble po­si­tion when­ever you move, whether you’re play­ing sports or just do­ing chores,” says sports medicine spe­cial­ist J. Christopher Mendler. That helps you avoid in­jury and makes your move­ments more ef­fi­cient. Test your bal­ance: stand on one leg with your arms ex­tended. If you last 60 sec­onds, you pass.

3/ Beat Back Pain

A core-train­ing pro­gram can both pre­vent and con­trol lower-back pain, Cana­dian re­search sug­gests. If you’ve had back trou­ble, you’ll be bet­ter off do­ing core ex­er­cises that keep you still (like side planks) than moves where you fully flex your spine (like situps). Side planks, bird dogs, and curlups are also great al­ter­na­tives. For more spine-sav­ing info, check out mh.co.za/fit­ness for ex­er­cises that help pre­vent back pain.

4/ Stand Taller

Core train­ing, specif­i­cally Pi­lates, can help you stand up straight. Men who took three hour-long Pi­lates ses­sions a week for eight weeks saw sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment on a pos­tural sta­bil­ity test, a study in Isoki­net­ics and Ex­er­cise Sci­ence found.

5/ Nail a PR

A ne­glected core is like thin ply­wood; a strong core is more like a row of 2x4s, giv­ing you a solid plat­form from which you can lift more weight. “Keep­ing your core en­gaged through­out a squat or bench press will in­crease your power to lift as well as keep your lower back safe,” says Liza Ede­bor, who trains elite baseball pitch­ers. Be­gin each of your heavy strength work­outs with 10 min­utes of ded­i­cated core train­ing.

6/ Move Like a Ninja

Do­ing a combo of core ex­er­cises and in­sta­bil­ity ex­er­cises, such as TRX and sin­gle-leg moves, can help you be­come more ag­ile. A study in the jour­nal Ki­ne­si­ol­ogy found that men who did th­ese work­outs per­formed bet­ter on the hexagon agility test than those who did tra­di­tional body­build­ing moves. Try a vari­a­tion: us­ing thick tape, mark a hexagon on the floor with 12cm sides and about 120-de­gree an­gles. Place a 6cm tape strip in the mid­dle as the start­ing po­si­tion. Hit a timer. From the start, dou­ble-leg hop to each side of the hexagon and back to the cen­tre in a clock­wise di­rec­tion, equalling 12 jumps. Re­peat, this time go­ing coun­ter­clock­wise. You should be able to fin­ish both di­rec­tions in an equal amount of time. If you can’t, then train your weak di­rec­tion.

7/ Con­trol In­flam­ma­tion

To as­sess the ef­fect of core-in­ten­sive train­ing on in­flam­ma­tion, sci­en­tists re­viewed eight stud­ies and found that such train­ing could re­duce in­flam­ma­tion mark­ers by as much as 25% – close to the re­sult you’d see from meds like statins. That may en­hance re­cov­ery, well­be­ing and gen­eral health.

8/ Live Longer

A six-pack can keep you from go­ing six feet un­der – at least any­time soon. That’s what Mayo Clinic re­searchers con­cluded when they looked at 11 stud­ies on waist cir­cum­fer­ence. Men with waists of 110cm or larger had a 52% greater risk of pre­ma­ture death than guys whose waists were 89cm or smaller. Each 5cm in­crease in waist size was associated with a 7% bump in death risk.

BUILD 3D ABS For abs that pop, you’ll need to build them up in the gym and watch your diet to melt the fat that cov­ers them.

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