Today’s blog post will touch on 3 things not to do for a tight waist and 3 things you can do instead!
First, I want to say that we technically cannot spot reduce – the small amount lost in the area is so insignificant – you’re wasting your time. This means that we cannot reduce the fat in an area of our body with targeted exercises alone. I know, it would be awesome if we could. All of us would literally reduce the fat that likes certain areas of our bodies.
We all have those so-called areas that pesky fat likes to hang out at. Guess why? Because we are human and our genetics play a hand in how much body fat we carry and where. The body is an amazing thing that takes care of us, and for survival sake, it loves to hold onto the fat – literally. Not that you can’t still train the area with exercise, but you cannot reduce the area alone without some other steps in place.
So, you walk into the gym, and you’re ready to trim your waist. Kudos to you for wanting to get in shape and feel better. Usually, people do an hour of cardio, and then we head over to the dumbbell rack and pick up a heavy dumbbell and proceed to do “Side Bends”! That’s right; I said side bends. I see it all the time – ladies more than men.
1.Side bends – will build the waist! The theory is that they will help you get rid of your love handles. Yea, they work the love handles alright. Did you know that side bends are actually building the obliques? Side bends will not streamline your abdominals. They may actually broaden your stomach.
Now, I will say, there is nothing wrong with big oblique’s, or them being strong – I have a strong set of oblique’s that I was born with, the side bends I do, which I have done in the past, just build them more. Some of us can’t help it because we were born that way. I can bet you thought that side bends would make your waist smaller. Side bends will actually make your oblique’s thicker and denser.
I can bet you that your vision was not a thicker waist. So, put the heavy dumbbell down and don’t use side bends for your waistline.
Lift weights (strength train) because getting strong will help you get tighter in the abdominal region as well as other parts of the body.
Hence, Strength training is Fat loss training. Training your whole body instead of one area creates a greater calorie burn as a whole. You may not be getting direct ab work when you squat, deadlift, or overhead press, but the core is getting worked. How so? Because every time you do these exercises your core should be engaged, thus leading to indirect core work.
Nutrition plays a huge role in the amount of fat in the abdominal region. Your abs are made in the kitchen, so to speak. So, with a sound diet and strength training regimen, you will eventually see your abdominals.
Refer to #2 for exercise alternatives. ⬇️⬇️
2. Crunches – You cannot crunch your way to a flat stomach. No, 500 crunches before bed is not the answer. Crunches are not effective, and they can also be harmful to your lower back.
Ever bang out a bunch of crunches, and you start to feel your lower back fire up? The cause are the crunches. Crunches send our lower back into flexion and can hurt your spine. If you are going to partake in crunches, make sure that you are doing them right.
Today, in the gym, I watched a woman getting it in on the weighted ab machine. You know the one that you sit on and grab the handles positioned on either side of your head, and then you crunch away.
People love these things, and no matter how many times you tell them that they won’t get a flat stomach that way, they continue to do it. Hey, I tried.
Don’t ever use this machine – a waist (waste of time)!
Crunches will not burn the fat in the stomach area (that burning feeling is not burning the fat). Some strengthening can be achieved by doing crunches – nothing inherently wrong with doing them, but you are doing them for the wrong reasons.
Again, spot reduction is a myth – I’m sure you’ve done a ton of crunches, and the appearance of your stomach looked the same. The only thing that has changed is your strength – session after session you feel stronger there and can get more reps, or go longer before you feel the burn.
Your time is best spent doing crunch-less exercises that target the core as a whole.
In addition, get your nutrition in check.
To do direct core work – Use these exercises to strengthen your core:
- Pallof Press –
- RKC Plank –
- Loaded Carries –
- Side Planks
Also, check out the Girls Gone Strong article on ten ways to train the core without crunches!
3. Excessive cardio – Cardio is the first thing we change when we think we have plateaued. We have the notion that more is better. I know, I did too. During a period when I was trying to lose weight, I would do upwards of 2 hours a day, several times a week.
It hurt my physique with the combination of a very low-calorie intake, and my weight training sessions – my body, was actually stressed the eff out.
I lost muscle, and you want to keep as much muscle as possible when trying to lose fat. Always remember muscle equals metabolism.
Long story short, excessive cardio can actually burn muscle and a lil bit of fat. You may be lighter on the scale, but you’ll just be a smaller version of your self with no shape or curves.
You know what the body does when it’s stressed out? Our bodies rebel, by holding on to the fat and reducing our metabolic rate, which makes it easier to gain weight while eating lower calories.
The increase in exercise or the lowering of calories puts the body in survival mode and guess what? The scale will not budge. It will also cause weight gain and make it increasingly harder to lose. Exactly the opposite of what you want.
The excessive cardio can and will cause inflammation in the body. Specifically, in my case, my stomach looked bloated with very little fat loss in my midsection. I was lighter on the scale but hadn’t lost much fat. What I did lose was muscle – no Bueno!
When it comes to cardio, the minimal effective dose is KEY. When you embark on a body transformation journey, you don’t want to start right out of the gate with an hour or two of cardio a day. That’s a recipe for disaster.
We become very efficient with cardio, meaning we need more and more to get results. Before you know it, you’ll be maxing out at 2 or more hours of cardio a day for 6-7 days a week. Who has time for that?! I know I don’t!
Use cardio smartly – introduce it when needed. Not to say that you can’t do some, but don’t be excessive. You’ll be glad you didn’t!
- Program short finishers after your lifting sessions
- Circuit train a couple of times a week. Circuit training brings in the conditioning component and the strength all in one. Knocking two birds out with one stone.
- 20 sec sprint/interval training once or twice a week.
The choice is always yours to exercise how you like!
However, your best bet and for best results in achieving a flat stomach, tight abs, etc.. comes from strength training, walking everyday – at least 20 minutes, a sound nutrition plan – moderate, consistent caloric deficit, sleep and stress managment, the right types of core/ab exercises, and minimal effective dose of cardio.
Lastly, a heavy dose of PATIENCE, CONSISTENCY, and TIME!
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