Posts tagged "abs"

Men: 11 Surprising Facts about Your Abs


Fitness, Health, Men | January 11, 2012

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6 pack abs are probably on every man’s bucket list. To get there, it takes a lot of hard work and health eating…plus some tips here!

1. You Don’t Need to Train Them Every Day

Courtesy Beth Bischoff

If you perform ab exercises daily in the pursuit of a perfect belly, you could be overtaxing your muscles. “A lot of people go overboard,” says Jim White, RD, ACSM, owner of Jim White Fitness & Nutrition Studios in Virginia Beach, VA. “They’ll do abs 7 days a week and won’t allow for any rest. That just damages the muscles.” He recommends focusing on abs three or four times a week.


2. Abs Exercises Alone Aren’t Enough

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It’s also important to mix things up: New research published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research shows that doing a routine of core-strengthening exercises alone won’t slim your waistline. When volunteers did seven moves 5 days a week, they had stronger ab muscles but they didn’t lose fat or inches. To reveal chiseled abs, you need to train all your major muscle groups, do cardio, and follow a healthy diet.


3. If You Want Stronger Abs, You’ll Need a Stronger Back

Courtesy Beth Bischoff

If your abs are the star of the show, think of your lower back as the supporting cast. When it comes to waist circumference, your lower back factors into that figure just as much as belly fat does, says White. “By tightening your lower back, your waist will look slimmer.” Also, a strong lower back makes it possible for you to complete intense ab-focused workouts with less risk of injury. “You can’t be one-sided,” says White. “It’s the same problem we see in athletes who overdevelop their quads and end up with hamstring injuries.” If you neglect your back, not only will you have a more difficult time completing ab exercises in the first place, but you’ll also have a better chance of injuring yourself and having to put off ab-targeted moves completely while you recover. In other words, if you want that six-pack, your lower back better be in shape.


4. Some Ab Moves Are More Effective Than Others

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Exercise infomercials love to lure in buyers with the promise of six-pack abs. But a 2001 study sponsored by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) found that the most effective ab-targeted moves can actually be done at home with minimal equipment. Researchers tested the amount of muscle activity required of participants while they performed 13 basic ab exercises. The bicycle crunch, the captain’s chair, and the stability ball crunch were named the best moves, requiring 148, 112, and 39% more muscle activity, respectively, than the traditional crunch. And if you want an obliques-targeted move, incorporate the reverse crunch into your workout. It’s 140% more effective at hitting the sides of your torso than the traditional crunch.


5. Some Ab Moves Aren’t Worth Doing

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The same ACE-sponsored study determined the least effective ab-targeted exercises. The exercise tubing pull and the Ab Rocker machine were at the bottom of the list, requiring 8 and 79% less muscle activity, respectively, than the traditional crunch.


6. The First Six-Pack on the Silver Screen Caused a Stir

Courtesy Columbia Pictures

Showing off a six-pack on film is an everyday occurrence now. (Is there a Ryan Reynolds movie in which he doesn’t find an opportunity to disrobe?) But the first Hollywood ab shot caused a sensation. When Clark Gable took off his button-down and bared his belly in the 1934 film It Happened One Night, it’s said that undershirt sales plummeted.


7. You May Have More Belly Fat Than You See in the Mirror

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There are two types of fat: subcutaneous and visceral. Subcutaneous fat is the most common—it resides all over the body, just below the skin—but visceral fat resides deep within the torso and wraps itself around your heart, liver, and other major organs. While subcutaneous fat is easy to see in the mirror (it’s the stuff you can pinch), visceral fat is difficult to detect without a CT scan or a MRI. In fact, it’s possible to look relatively thin and still have too much visceral fat. Find out why this is a problem on the next slide.


8. Not All Fat Is Created Equal

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Visceral fat is not only harder to detect, but also more dangerous than subcutaneous fat. It’s more likely to produce substances that can damage your heart and blood vessels and could interfere with your body’s ability to use insulin. What’s more, large amounts of belly fat can increase your risk of serious health problems like high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, sleep apnea, certain types of cancer, and heart disease. A study published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association even found that visceral fat has a greater impact on the cardiovascular health of older women than does obesity. Visceral fat could also have an effect on mental health: A Kaiser Permanente study comparing people with different levels of fat found that participants who had the most belly fat were 145% more likely to develop dementia than participants with the least amount of belly fat.


9. Belly Fat Can Increase Your Risk of Osteoporosis

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Because underweight women are known to have increased risk of osteoporosis, it was assumed that the heavier you are, the healthier your bones. But the results of a recent study presented at the Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America suggest otherwise: Researchers found that visceral fat is associated with reduced bone-mineral density in obese women. (Subcutaneous fat did not demonstrate such a link.)


10. You Can Eat Your Way to a Flatter Belly

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A Spanish study published in the journal Diabetes Care found that eating a diet rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) can actually help prevent weight gain in your belly—more specifically, the accumulation of visceral fat. Foods like avocados, nuts, and olive oil are high in MUFAs, which are also known to help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.


11. A Strong Stomach Protects Against Injury

Courtesy Beth Bischoff

A study conducted by the U.S. Army found that strong abdominal muscles are linked to injury prevention. Researchers tracked 120 soldiers during a year of field training and found that those who were able to perform the most situps (73 situps in 2 minutes) during their initial standard army fitness test were 5 times less likely to suffer lower-body injuries (including lower-back injury) than the men who completed fewer than 50 situps. What’s more, top performance in other areas of the fitness test—like pushups and the 2-mile run—offered no such injury protection, suggesting that a strong core plays a larger role in injury prevention than other muscle groups do.


Referenced article here:


Banish Belly Fat by Breaking These Bad Habits

Health Kick (Day 3): If abs are your strength (or weakness), try breaking these simple bad habits to whittle your waist…and flaunt those abs in no time! 

1. Smoking

Lighting up may keep smokers slimmer than nonsmokers overall, but cigarette smoking impacts where your body stores its fat. In anObesity Research study of 21,828 middle-aged adults, British scientists found that smokers had lower BMIs compared with nonsmokers, but their waist-to-hip ratios were greater. Additional studies suggest that an apple-shaped body—carrying more weight around the waist—puts you at a greater risk for obesity, fertility complications, and cardiovascular disease than a pear-shaped body, when weight is concentrated in the hips.

Image: Thinkstock

2. Drinking Excessively

Sipping a glass of red wine during dinner can help fight belly fat, but go overboard and you could end up with a beer belly. “Alcohol delays your liver’s ability to metabolize fat and also suppresses the hormone testosterone, which is the primary metabolic hormone,” says Keri Glassman, RD, founder of Nutritious Life, a New York City–based nutrition practice. “Studies show that lower levels of testosterone are directly linked to higher levels of belly fat. And, of course, alcohol does have calories, and many people overeat when drinking is involved,” she says.

Image: Thinkstock

3. Getting Frazzled

Frequent freak-outs spell more thanwrinkles and a few grays. Stressful situations can also show up on your waistline. “Evidence has shown that a high level of cortisol, the hormone that is released in response to stress, has been linked to the abnormal accumulation of abdominal fat,” says Glassman. In one study published in Psychosomatic Medicine, Yale researchers found that otherwise slender women who carried excess belly fat secreted more cortisol when asked to perform stressful tasks compared with women who carried more fat around their hips.

Image: Thinkstock

4. Skipping Veggies

Perhaps you’ve turned up your nose at turnips—and beets, kale, and cauliflower—since you were a kid. But if you want a taut tummy, now’s the time to chow down. “Veggies are a crucial source of fiber,” says Glassman. “Fiber helps to aid in digestion and relieve constipation, which promotes a flat belly.” Plus, packing your meals with foods like beans, bran, berries, and broccoli helps fend off hunger. “Fiber also helps promote fullness, guarding you from making poor food choices and overeating, which can help you get lean overall,” Glassman says.

Image: Thinkstock

5. Having Poor Posture

Sitting or standing up straight isn’t just about manners or form. Proper posture helps keep core muscles—your abs, hips, and lower back—strong and your belly looking less paunchy. Australian researchers studied the postures of 20 adults as they sat hunched in a chair or stood with their backs arched and their bellies hanging out. Then they examined the same study participants as they stood or sat up straight. The scientists found that back and belly muscles were slack while slouching but contracted once the study participants straightened up.

Image: Thinkstock

6. Doing Cardio-Only Workouts

Sure, cardio melts fat, but if you’re skipping core-strengthening resistance workouts, your abs may be in hiding. Bring ‘em out by alternating aerobic activity withstrength-training sessions. Korean researchers divided 30 obese women into three groups: those who performed 60 minutes of cardio 6 days a week, those who completed three strength-training and three cardio workouts per week, and a control group. Women in the combined aerobic and resistance training group lost more belly fat and gained more muscle than women in the cardio-only group during the 24-week study.

Image: Thinkstock

7. Doing Weights-Only Workouts

You can spend hours pumping iron, but without some cardio to burn the fat that’s stored around abdominal muscles you can’t show off your hard work. If you’re worried that running orcycling will turn your gym session into an all-morning or all-evening affair, try interval training. When Australian researchers assigned 45 young women to either 20-minute cycling intervals or 40 minutes of continuous cycling at moderate intensity three times per week, the interval group lost 5.5 pounds, on average, with significant reductions in belly, leg, and butt fat. Steady-state exercisers did not lose fat—on average, the women gained 1 pound after 15 weeks.

Image: Thinkstock

8. Keeping a Messy House

If you let dust bunnies take shelter under your sofa, you’re missing out on an at-home belly-flatteningworkout. The rotational movements associated with vacuuming and sweeping work your core muscles, and common household cleaning tasks burn serious calories. A 150-pound person burns about 85 calories during 30 minutes of dusting. Mopping or vacuuming will zap about 119 calories every 30 minutes and sweeping your porch or sidewalk will blast 136 calories in half an hour.

Image: Thinkstock

9. Not Drinking Enough Water

Fill up your belly to make it flatter. That may sound counterintuitive, but when you hydrate with good old H2O, it works. “Drinking water helps maintain your body’s fluid balance and guard against water retention,” says Glassman, “and can relieve constipation, which causes bloat.” Sipping water is also a way to ward off mindless snacking, a classic belly-fat culprit: “When you are hydrated you are less likely to eat when you are actually just thirsty,” says Glassman.

Image: Thinkstock

10. Skimping on Sleep

Adequate rest can help you shed pounds, but sacrificing slumber for late-night TV may explain why your body clings to stubborn belly fat. During a 6-year Canadian study, those who slept only 5 to 6 hours each night experienced a 58% higher increase in waist circumference and a 124% higher increase in body fat percentage than those who slept 7 to 8 hours a night. “Sleep deprivation lowers leptin, a protein that suppresses appetite and tells the brain when the stomach is full,” says Glassman.

Image: Thinkstock

Referenced article HERE.