I was recently asked by a new client if I could recommend any good ab exercises to help flatten her stomach. This is an unfortunate misunderstanding of human physiology perpetuated by late-night exercise equipment infomercials.
Exercising a muscle or a group of muscles more, for example the stomach, does nothing to help reduce the amount of fat that just happens to be stored around it. Performing hundreds of sit-ups will do nothing to make your stomach any flatter. The truth is that you cannot spot reduce body fat, unless of course you pay a surgeon to perform some rather invasive procedures.
Numerous studies have been conducted over the years to disprove this myth. One study postulated that elite tennis players should have significantly less fat in their dominant arm versus their non-dominant arm. After all it would make sense that the arm that have significantly performed more repetitions from swinging a tennis racket thousands of extra times should be much leaner. Well….Researchers found that the dominant arm of the tennis players had significantly more girth. Just the opposite! This was due to exercise-induced hypertrophy (bigger muscle girth) yet the amount of fat on both arms was identical. Another study utilized a “27-day intense sit-up training program.” Researchers measured fat cell diameter at the abdominal. They found that there was no difference in the rate of change amongst the stomach before and after the 27 days, indicating there was a lack of specific adaptation to the abdominal region.
This is not to say exercises that work the “core” are useless. Core work should be done with the focus on increasing midline stabilization (i.e. building stronger abs), not obtaining a 6-pack. After all we all have six packs…some are just hidden more than others! If fat loss is your goal, focus on your nutrition instead of new sit-up variations. Try cutting out refined carbohydrates like bread, pasta, cereal, rice, grains, and sugar in favor of fresh fruits and vegetables. For further reading, pick-up a copy of “The Paleo Diet for Athletes” by Dr. Loren Cordain. Body Fat means just that. Fat surrounding the body.
Ironically we find if our clients stop focusing on losing that extra percent or two of body fat and worry more about getting stronger and faster their bodies tend to lean itself out because of their new found fitness levels!
- “Tennis”: https://www.presidentschallenge.org/informed/digest/docs/199405digest.pdf
- The Paleo Diet for Athletes: Dr. Loren Corden: http://home.trainingpeaks.com/blog/article/a-quick-guide-to-the-paleo-diet-for-athletes
Saturday June 13, 2014
A. Press 5 x 6
Week 8 of 10
B. 5 sets of 2 minutes: Rest 1 minute: Pick up where you left off
- 10 Hang Power Cleans 95/65
- 10 Strict Press 95/65
- 10 Barbell Row (video)
A. Bench-50% 5 x 5-8
Week 9 of 10
B. 1,000m Row (5 minute cap)
C. 21-15-9 (5 minute cap)
- KB Swing
- Double Under