Are you confused and bewildered by all the different techniques for tightening that tummy? And are rollers and giant bouncing balls really necessary to help you firm up?
With so much information available, it can be difficult weeding through the best ways to get a fit and firm figure.
In fact, if you aren’t careful, lack of results could be the least of your worries – using bad technique could set you up for injury.
According to fitness expert, Brad Schoenfeld, there are four common myths associated with toning that tummy:
MYTH 1: Training the abs will give you a flat stomach
You simply can’t spot reduce fat. When you exercise, fat is removed from all areas of the body. The calories expended during ab exercises are very low. If you are looking for a high calorie burner, there are better exercises.
Working the abs will develop the underlying muscle, but if there is a layer of fat obscuring your "six pack" neither you nor anyone else will ever see it.
MYTH 2: The lower and upper abs are separate from one another
The abs are one long sheet of muscle. They aren’t separate. Any ab exercise you do is going to involve both the lower and upper abdominal areas. You can shift the emphasis more toward the lower or upper regions by performing specific exercises.
To target the upper abdominal area, you use exercises that bring the chest toward the pelvic (crunch-type exercises). To target the lower abdominal region, use exercises that bring the pelvis toward the chest (reverse curls).
MYTH 3: You should perform ab exercises every day for best results.
If you train your muscles every day, you are going to be shortchanging yourself of results. The muscles develop during rest. When you train them every day, you’re actually breaking down muscles. It's best to allow 48 hours for the muscle to recuperate and provide optimal results.
MYTH 4: During the crunch, you should place your hands behind your head for support.
You should never put your hands behind your head for support. When you put your hands behind your head and clasp there is a tendency to pull on the neck muscles. This puts you at a greater risk for straining the neck muscles, especially when the repetitions start getting difficult and you are fatiguing and want to get out the last few reps.
The best advice is to place your hands behind your chest or put your fists at your ears. Schoenfeld emphasises that to achieve a super-sexy stomach you first have to shed the layer of fat covering the muscles.
The best one-two punch?
Good nutrition and regular physical activity. Without proper nutrition, you aren’t going to see the fruits of your labour, he says.
For an extra boost of fat burning Schoenfeld advocates an aerobic activity. The combination of a healthy diet and cardio exercise will speed up your progress and help burn extra fat.
Schoenfeld suggests performing the following three exercises as one giant set. Do 15 to 20 reps of the toe touch. Without resting, do 15 to 20 reps of the reverse curl. Then do 15 to 20 reps of the twisting curl. Rest 30 seconds and repeat the giant set two more times.
Begin by lying on the floor with arms and legs straight upwards, perpendicular to your body. Slowly curl your torso up and forward, raising your hands as close to your toes as possible. Contract your abs and then reverse direction, returning to the starting position.
Begin by lying back on the floor. With your hands at your sides, raise your butt as high as possible while keeping your upper back pressed to the floor. Contract your abs and then reverse direction, returning to the starting position.
Begin by lying face up on the floor with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Your thighs should be perpendicular to the ground and your hands should be folded across your chest.
Slowly raise your shoulders up and forward toward your chest, twisting your body to the right. Feel a contraction in your abdominal muscles and then slowly reverse direction, returning to the start position. After performing the desired number of repetitions, repeat the process, twisting your body to the left.
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