per­sonal trainer

The low­down on sit-ups and what ex­er­cise should se­niors do to in­crease mus­cle tone?

Sunday Herald Sun - Body and Soul - - Try It Out - with Damien Kelly

On Fe­bru­ary 17, Garth asked you if sit-ups would help to get rid of the ex­cess flab on his stom­ach and your an­swer was ba­si­cally “no”. But I can vouch for situps as a way to get rid of a flabby tummy. So why was your an­swer “no”? Helga, via email You are lucky to have had such great re­sults, but I stand by my com­ments. Sit-ups and crunch move­ments work the rec­tus ab­do­mi­nis mus­cle (com­monly called the six-pack). This mus­cle’s sole job is to flex the spine. It has no ef­fect on draw­ing the ab­dom­i­nals in and lit­tle ef­fect on fat burn­ing. To burn fat you need to be do­ing whole-body strength train­ing and high-in­ten­sity car­dio in­ter­vals. To af­fect the over­all shape of your ab­dom­i­nal area, you need to be work­ing on the deeper core mus­cles, in par­tic­u­lar the trans­verse ab­do­mi­nis. This is done ini­tially by Pi­lates-type ex­er­cises that brace and strengthen th­ese deep pos­tural mus­cles.


I’m 80 and play so­cial ten­nis a few times a week, row on a ma­chine and use a spa for arthri­tis. I want to im­prove my mus­cle tone. What will give me an over­all mus­cle work­out? Should I use a ball or go swim­ming? Jane, via email Swim­ming may be a lit­tle too close to row­ing and Swiss balls are great, but their ef­fec­tive­ness will de­pend on your strength and co­or­di­na­tion. What you are miss­ing is some weight train­ing. This will strengthen your bones and give you mus­cle tone. An ex­er­cise rou­tine fo­cused on dumb­bells would work well. An­other good op­tion would be some sling train­ing. The TRX or sim­i­lar brands al­low you to do a range of body­weight strength­en­ing at an in­ten­sity that suits you. They are ver­sa­tile and light­weight so you can use them any­where.


Damien Kelly is a qual­i­fied ex­er­cise phys­i­ol­o­gist. Please email your health and fit­ness ques­tions to [email protected]­ au. Due to the large vol­ume of ques­tions Damien can­not re­spond per­son­ally to each ques­tion.

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