What do you do if your stomach, not your face, is what people look at when they see you? Do as many crunches as your can is the answer—if you want to believe the white chick or hunk who promotes the ‘ab machine’ in the TV ad.
Genuine fitness experts and exercise-physiologists know differently, and they’ve been screaming from the rooftops that fat is the ‘non-working tissue’ in our body, and stomach crunches will not help you lose that big belly.
So, what does that mean? Here’s the gyan:
- When we say fat is ‘non-working tissue’ we mean it doesn’t take part in exercise.
- Fat is not attached to your joints. Fat sits on top of them, under your skin, which means that the fat on your stomach belongs to the whole body, and is not location-specific. There is no ‘spot reduction’ when it comes to fat.
- The muscle rectus abdominis, popularly called ‘abs’, belongs to the stomach area; starting from under your chest cavity, it inserts itself in your pelvic joint.
- When you crunch your abs, you make them bigger, just like you make your biceps bigger when you pump them. As for the fat, it stays where it is, laughing at you. It does not feel in the least bit under pressure when you bring your chest closer to your hips in a crunch.
So, should you give up crunches? No, they tone your abs, so do perform them; but not more than two or three sets (each set consisting of 15 to 20 repetitions), twice a week. Anything more than that and you may be risking a back or neck injury. And what about the fat sitting on your tummy? Well, it is a manifestation of your total body fat. So, eat right, keep your blood sugar stable, exercise regularly so that you burn fat efficiently, regularise your bedtime to give your body time to recover, and cut back on ‘social drinking’.
Sorry for bursting your bubble, but there really is no short-cut to flat abs.
(A fortnightly column on nutrition and fitness, by the author of Don’t Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight)