One of the exercise trends that personal trainers and fitness coaches have huge problems with is the way people think about abdominal exercises. Most people still think that what were considered “good” abdominal exercises fifty years ago are the best ways they can build their stomach.
Sit ups and crunches are in fact not as effective as most people have thought. Personal trainers have known this for years, but many people still think that these are good abdominal exercises. Sit ups are relatively effective, but almost nobody does them correctly and it is a difficult exercise to replicate. So you might be doing them right one day, and wrong the next day – but not notice any difference in the way you are doing them!
The reason that sit ups are not such good abdominal exercises is that the smallest change in posture can shift the focus of the strain away from your stomach and onto your hips or back. Back strain is the major risk when you are dealing with abdominal exercises, so you need remember to stop if you feel like your back might be hurting. If your back is hurting then you are doing almost no good to your stomach, because you are using your spine to pull your body.
A lot of women and people who want to lose weight around their stomach buy in to the “many reps, long sets, low weight” strategy, which does tend to work for calves, arms and thighs. However, this is not the most efficient way of burning fat and many people are doing good abdominal exercises, but they are doing them inefficiently! To really burn fat in the stomach area you first need to target the transverse abdominus (the deepest of all of your abdominal muscles) by doing slow, intense exercises with long time intervals.
This might sound like a bulk training strategy, but just try it for yourself and see what happens! Give up on the sit ups and try doing bicycle kicks, lying on your back. Use your stomach to lift your hips slightly off the ground, and move your legs in slow, control bicycle-peddling movements. The slower you do these while maintaining your position, the faster you will develop your deeper abdominal muscles and this will make it a lot easier to burn off that surface fat.
When it comes to good abdominal exercises, most people tend to neglect a tried-and-tested strategy: water exercises. These can be difficult, but if you stand in water up to your chest and center your core so that you can’t drift off or lose your balance you can really burn some fat! Once you have a comfortable position that won’t allow you to lose your footing, extend your arms to either side and make your hands into paddles. Make slow twisting movements from side to side, using your lower abdominals to take up the strain.
This, and other core water exercises, are all good abdominal exercises that will help to burn fat at the sides of your stomach, on your hips and of course on your belly. Next time you are at gym or in a pool give it a try. You will find that the number of reps it takes to burn fat in water is far lower than on land where the only thing you are working against is gravity and your own resistance.
Remember, if you want to do good abdominal exercises that will really help you to burn fat and build muscle, keep away from the sit ups! Rather find abdominal exercises that work well for you and achieve the goals you have set out for yourself. Don’t be afraid to challenge what you know about exercising – most people who do this experience incredible results!