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Truth About Abs – Forget What You Thought You Already Knew

Diet, Exercise and Core Body click more details Strength

Obesity is now considered an ‘epidemic’ in America, with 33% of Americans considered overweight and an astonishing 10% considered obese. Much of this is due to the change in the American diet in the last forty years, with the rise of prepackaged foods, and a bustling work ethic that says it’s better to eat lunch at your desk and skip exercising.

We reap what we sow, and in no place is that more trenchant than in the arena of personal health and fitness. Most Americans are carrying extra flab around the middle, and trying to get rid of fat in trouble spots is a challenge. The general attempts at getting rid of fat boil down to supplements, diet, and exercise.

Supplements usually promise to burn fat either in general or in specific places – you’ve seen the internet ads for fat-burning pills. Diets work in the short term, when you need to fit into a specific outfit, but most of the weight loss from diets is temporary without making a severe lifestyle change in how you deal with food.

Exercise (and moderating what you eat) is the key to getting your waist under control. Most of the solid exercises for losing weight (and for looking better in general) focus on the abdominal muscles first and foremost. This is part of the reason there’s such a large market for the ‘ab-gadget’ on late night television; by building up the strength of the abdominal muscles (and the back muscles in the lower back to complement them) you’re building what’s called core body strength. You get stronger, other exercises get easier, and you can turn the corner on losing weight.

The basics of ab workouts start with the beloved crunch – put your knees up at a 90 degree angle (so you don’t use your hip flexors to torque up), and cross your arms across your chest, and sit up until your elbows touch your knees. Do this in moderation at first – it’s very easy to overdo it. The goal is to do 5 of them at a time, rest until your breathing comes easy, do another 5 and repeat. As this gets easier, hold a weight to your chest while you do it. Do this every other day, and on the off days, take time to walk or run, or do yoga to keep your muscles loose.

As you work out with your abdominals, especially after you’ve added some weight to you crunches, start doing other exercises – shoulder lifts and shrugs with a dumbbell in each hand will build off of the core workout you’ve been doing with your abs, and help tone up your chest and shoulders, giving you an overall sculpted look.

All of these work from the basic principal of interval training – the goal is to get several short, brief workouts and recover from them rather than doing long cardio workouts; interval training is better for building burst strength and sculpting muscle than cardio vascular exercise is. Cardio vascular exercise is better for building up endurance; both are useful, but interval training will get you looking better faster.

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