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Forget quick fixes to firm up abs

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Miranda Kerr. Photo: Getty

Miranda Kerr. Photo: Getty

Miranda Kerr. Photo: Getty

IT'S a myth that hundreds of sit ups are what it takes to get a toned tummy. here’s what it takes to banish the wobble . . .

When you run or walk fast, if your tummy wobbles it means you are carrying too much mid-section fat and no number of sit-ups will reduce your tummy fat. Neither will miracle wraps or electrical gadgets attached to your body — the ones which promise to lose inches in days off your tummy. It simply won't happen.

Most of us have a six pack or firm muscles under our level of body fat, which will vary from person to person. Women will have a higher percentage of fat all over, which, when toned, gives a lovely, firm, attractive figure.

When body fat decreases it will go from all over, including your face, which, unfortunately when taken too far, ages the body and face quickly, so don't go for extreme dieting. Yes, you may start to see a decrease in fat and see a glimpse of the abs, and for some it looks attractive, particularly if you have the tomboy look — lean and mean. But, for the average woman, a severe drop in body fat does you no good.

It may have taken you years to gain fat so you need to drop the inches slowly and they will stay off. With the men, they are now under pressure to get six packs on request from their girlfriends or, of course, boyfriends.

The flabby belly is no longer acceptable. You see people in the gym or out at boot-camp classes doing hundreds of sit-ups to see a decrease in fat and get the elusive abs. Often after a hard session, they can then be seen eating junk or having a few beers, and so the abs will remain invisible.

Again, for abs to show, a complete overhaul of your diet is essential when you have extra fat, particularly on the tummy. If your fat tummy is firm or hard, this is called visceral fat and is between the muscles and organs.

 

Cholesterol

The fat cells simply push outwards against the abdominal wall, making it hard. There may be muscle there, but lots of fat puts you at a greater risk of cardiovascular disease and internal problems.

A soft belly will have a lot of subcutaneous fat, meaning fat under the skin. Remember, any increase in waist size can increase cholesterol levels — every extra inch on your waist puts 10lb of pressure on your discs in your lower back. So if your waist is 40 inches and should be 34, that's 60lb of pressure pulling your tummy forward and causing your posture to drag forward.

Rather than make exercises complicated, all the following movements are designed to work the whole abdominal area completely. You were probably taught that the abdominal area went from your chest down to your pelvis, but in reality the mid-section is only six to eight inches long.   

It is really important to perform each exercise slowly, with no jerky movements, to avoid back or neck problems. When you observe people doing tummy exercises, you can see them pulling their neck forward and putting too much pressure on their shoulders and neck, so in coming forward let your head rest in your hands and look upwards.

Roll back slowly, as this is more effective than the forward part of the movement. So go back really slowly, squeezing the tummy as you roll back. In the side plank, try to get a complete arch, bending from the waist. This exercise works the side of your waist and your obliques — again, try to get a complete bend as you drop down.

When doing the plank, as your body stays parallel, don't bend your hips, as this will put pressure on the lower back. When straight, exhale and squeeze your tummy with each exhaled breath. The crunch is simple but effective when you concentrate, moving slowly forwards and backwards. The full sit-up is more advanced again, so get up slowly to the upright position and very slowly return to the start. You can make any movement complicated, but our exercises are really effective and safe and are suitable for people of all ages. There is no need to do thousands of sit-ups, just three sets of 20 repetitions of each exercise, three times weekly. Any more will make no difference.

The biggest difference will be seen when you cut out all bad carbs like white flour products, sugar, beer, wine, fast food and low-fat foods. So to tighten the tummy and begin to see the abs, train three to four times weekly with light weights, do some cardio like cycling, walking or swimming, and abdominal exercises three times a week. Results are approximately 70pc diet and 30pc exercise.

Exercise will speed up the metabolism, but results will be more noticeable if you change to a more wholefood-eating plan.

So forget about quick fixes, they don’t work.


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