DISCLAIMER FOR BELLY ENTHUSIASTS: The tummy is probably fitness' greatest quagmire. There is no magic dust to get rid of it. Interview 10 of your slimmest belly friends and outside of the anomalies who look naturally slim (with their clothes on, dont be fooled) they'll all probably tell you the same things. Everyone has some degree of tummiage, moreso as we get older, especially females as you naturally have higher bmi than men. I'm not denouncing the tummy so save the wtf-ery. The following is only for ppl who do not have a loving relationship with the tummy, have reached irreconcilable differences and would rather part ways.Do you hate sit ups? I don't blame you. They are quite possibly the worse, least efficient exercise ever invented. I had a convo of late and realized, I HATE sit-ups (those who know me know that I hate the word "hate" so I use it sparingly). I'm not even a big fan of crunches. Whenever I confess this I get the obligatory, "oh shut up, you have abs and blah blah blah," hater chat. Which makes sense in the face of what appears to be a blaring contradiction. So here's the next question that almost always follows:
HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR CORE IN SHAPE IF YOU DON'T DO SIT-UP?
#1 You flatten your stomach in the KITCHEN, not the gym. Broken record, I know. I've managed to miraculously maintain a relatively slim waistline and core the last year despite not having a gym based on a few dietary disciplines I've developed over the years. This one is simply a reminder, for more details, re-visit:
Staying Motivated in the Gym..........Part 3
Staying Motivated in the Gym....Part 1
#2 You don't need to build abs, you need to burn fat. I know some really muscular guys who have kegs for bellies (we call that the "prison build"). Thats bc they only focus on muscle development and don't compliment with fat burning. I hate traditional cardio, I prefer activities. I hate treadmills, I'd rather play basketball or run in the park, up a hill, mountain, etc. I hate stairmasters, I'd rather run up and down stairs with a pair of 10-20-40-50 lb dumbells, depending on how "Spartan" I'm feeling that particular day. Elypticals are the devil. Why use a stationary bike? Putting in all this effort and going nowhere.....literally, physically and metaphorically. Buy an actual bike.
#3 Break your routine. I know ppl who have been going to the gym for years and you'd never know outside of them constantly complaining and bragging about it. Why do you have a gym membership more than 6 months and see no noticeable progress? Easy, you're doing the same things over and over. Your body adapts and adjust to the only way to prevent it from plateauing is to keep fluctuating your routine. Retire all those machines I just mentioned. Learn the schedule and attend all the classes. Go swimming. Play racket ball, soccer (most physically demanding sport ever IMO). Don't like the gym, take some dance classes (dancing has always been my second favorite cardio of all time ::GIGGITY!::).
#4 Get/use a pull up bar. Ever wish there was a way to get the same effect of sit-ups and crunches without laying on the floor and hurting your back? Funny you should ask. MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE AND MOST EFFECTIVE CORE WORKOUT: Hanging leg raises. Personally, I like to hang from the bar as I do this, to strengthen my grip and upper body as well, but if you're not there yet, you can get a pair of pullup straps to hang from. Any sports store or online shop would have em. For starters, just try to pull your legs up to a "chair" position, then as you advance you can pull your knees to your chest and eventually do it straight legged. I can go on for another blog on this exercise...like bicycles, oblique lifts, clock rotations, alternating legs, 90 degree extensions - get creative....but take it easy bc you will burn in ways you've never hurt before.
#5 Full body workouts. Staying away from machines adds a new dimension to your workout by working out your core as well as whatever muscle you're on.. Try this. Any exercise you do on a machine:
-figure a way to do it with free weights. Start off light. Balance and proper form are the most important aspects here.
-figure out a way to do it on one leg, then alternate to the other leg.
By doing this, you add two variables, your own body weight and gravity and by doing this, you work parts of your core you can't easily target with traditional floor exercises. My favorite workouts that also target your core: deadlifts, squats and vertical rows.
#6 Take a picture of the belly. Draw a face on it. Make it talk. Confront it. Name it. As long as you treat it like a pink elephant and mask it in peasant dresses and bionic structural hosiery, its going nowhere. And if you're fine with that, cool, this article is not for you. But if you have a bit of tummy you'd care to part with, the most important step is to confront it.
I have to get to work. I just acquired a new image of where I want to go with my core, so I have a bit of work ahead of me. If you can implement some self discipline, I just saved you hundreds of dollars in personal training and infomercial dvd packs.