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 :

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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

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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