All of us want to trim down and remain there. Ladies want to have the perfect waist and midriff and men want to have six packs. An entire industry has mushroomed towards this end. There are machines, lotions, clothes, tablets, supplements and neutraceuticals. In addition there are therapies and clinics which do various kinds of therapies and surgeries.
Most of these land up having side effects or have no effects even after paying large sums of money. Some of these products and therapies cause imbalances in the body. Many others cause instant water loss so that we feel there has been some reduction. Nothing really happens to the body. In fact many such supplements are very harmful.
Myth 1 – Crunches, Sit-ups, leg raises and similar exercises help reduce tummy fat.
The fitness and gym industry has also got into this act in a big way. Their solution is sit-ups, crunches, leg raises and similar other abdominal exercises. Gym trainers propagate myths like ‘core strength’ through abdominal exercises and doing multiple crunches or leg raises with cardiovascular exercises. As a result we see men and women in all age groups struggling with these on the floor, machines or bars. Surprisingly for them, there is no impact in their waist fat, belly fat or gut. They remain the way they are in most cases.
Myth 2- Side bends, with rods, dumbbells or cable bends, helps reduce love handles.
This is another set of useless exercises we see people doing. Taking a rod or dumbbells and twisting or doing side bends. Some also use cables and pulleys and keep adding weights thinking the more you do the better it is. These exercises do nothing for you except strengthen the tiny oblique muscles on the sides. In fact, more than ninety percent of all trainers teach this wrong. There is definitely no impact on waist fat. On the contrary, you start damaging your back. These are also recommended in conjunction with sit-ups and crunches thinking they will reduce waist fat. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Myth 3 – We feel good when we do these exercises and seem to lose fat.
When we do these exercises for a month or so, we may feel a slight reduction in the waist because the muscles tighten and tone up. This happens because we have not used them properly before. So they will firm up and ‘pull in’ giving a tightening effect and also maybe reducing your waist by a maximum of half or one inch. Beyond that nothing else happens. Nor is this process continuous. The toned or flat abs are due to absence of fat and have hardly anything to do with these exercises. An overall increase in muscles and lean mass helps reduce fat across the body. This reflects on the waist area as well.
Myth 4 – Abdominal exercises are generally food for core strength and fat removal.
It is a mistaken belief that crunches and other abdominal exercises are good for either removing abdominal fat or for building core strength. These do not help either goal. In fact, the reverse is true. All these exercises can actually harm you. Doing too many crunches or abdominal exercises are not good for you. Body fat does not reduce by doing abdominal exercises but it reduces by an appropriate diet and exercise plan. Even persons who do no crunches at all can have a flat stomach.
Doing crunches, leg raises and other exercises will gradually impact your lower back leading to lower back problems and injuries. Many times, these manifest even after your fifties.
So the next logical question to ask is, ‘what do we do for fat reduction and improving core strength’? The answer is very simple. All physical exercises done correctly will keep your core healthy. Even moderate leg exercises work out the abdominal muscles. A regular and disciplined walking program will keep your core strong and healthy. You need not do complicated exercises which will harm your back and can cause digestion related problems.
The Best Routine for Abdominal Fat and Core Strength
The best way to greatly develop and maintain powerful core muscles is to practice asanas. If you focus for the initial few months on standing asanas, these will help take off unwanted fat and make your core very strong. There are zero side effects and only long term strength and longevity. Of course, you have to make sure that you eat correctly and lead a disciplined lifestyle.