Gilroy Today 2007 07 July/Aug - Page 11

The HEALTH CONNECTION Let’s Do a Little Belly Aching! By Deb Smith, Personal Trainer Owner of F.A.T.E. Fitness for Adults in Transition - Energize! One of the most effective abdominal exercises is the crunch Many of us have been performing abdominal exercises for years. I’m often asked “how come my stomach is not flat?” or “how do I get my abs to look like those I see in the magazine?” Some of those 6-pack ab pictures you see in the magazines are owned by men and women who work out for hours each day to achieve that body. For most people, a flat, toned stomach can be a realistic goal, but it does take hard work, commitment, AND using proper form while performing the exercise. Our abdominal muscles are three interconnected muscles: upper abs, lower abs, and oblique (sides). It is important to strengthen these muscle groups as they are our CORE muscles. The core is the origin of movement, and having a strong core means being able to stabilize the spine and effectively move the body with varying loads; such as lifting boxes, vacuuming, picking weeds, trimming your bushes, dancing with your partner … the list goes on and on. So a powerful core allows you to perform many activities with less likelihood of injury. There are some specific things you can do to flatten your stomach and build up your ab muscles, but it will involve a comprehensive fitness program including cardiovascular conditioning (aerobic activity) and proper nutrition. First, you’ll have to do at least 30 minutes of cardio training 3 or 4 times a week. The cardio will help burn the excess fat around your abs to help tone them. Second, make sure you eat lots of lean meats, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Stay away from high calorie and fatty junk food. Third, and most importantly, 4 to 5 times a week you’ll need to do some specific core exercises. One of the most effective abdominal exercises is the crunch. Here are some helpful hints which will ensure a safe and effective abdominal workout: 1 2 Lie down on your back and bend your knees, placing your hands behind your head; cradling your head. Try to keep your elbows back (wide) with fingers unlocked behind your head. Pull your belly button towards your spine, and Here are two fun core exercises you can do standing. Rib to Hip Muffin Busters 3 4 5 6 flatten your lower back against the floor. Slowly contract your abdominals, and pull your ribs in toward your hip bones. Think of folding your abdominal area. Exhale as you come up and keep your neck straight, chin up. Hold at the top of the movement for a few seconds, breathing continuously. Slowly lower back down, but don’t relax all the way. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent and neutral spine (pelvic area slightly tilted). Pull your naval in toward your spine and try to keep the lower abdominal area tight throughout the exercise. This exercise can be performed with a resistance band, hand-weights (or improvise by using two water bottles or two soup cans). Place the weights at your hips. Slowly drop your rib down toward your hip bone. Imagine that your lower body is your foundation — very little movement from your hips down. The work happens in your Powerhouse (the muscles from your ribs to your hips) (Eliminates the “Muffin Overflow” – area just above our pant line) Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent and neutral spine (pelvic area slightly tilted). Pull your naval in toward your spine and try to keep the lower abdominal area tight throughout the exercise. This exercise can be performed with a resistance band or handweights. Place your weights by your rear-end with your palms facing out to the back wall. Slowly drop your rib to your hip. Imagine that your lower body is your foundation — very little movement from your hips down. JULY/AUGUST 2007 GILROY TODAY 11