A muscular midsection is nature’s own ‘corset’ protecting the vital organs of the mid-region and exercising the waist should be a regular part of any exercise program.
Regular and granulated waist exercises along with sensible eating can aid in preventing hernias, dropped abdomen, prevent obesity and it’s related problems of kidney disease, atherosclerosis and diabetes, and aid in the development and maintenance of vitality
Cut The Calories!
An essential adjunct of mid-section training is obviously diet. Surplus calories generally collect in the less active sections of the body, which for most means the waistline.
The tendency to develop a high density of fat storage cells around the midsection is an inherited characteristic. Some people (no more fortunate in their view!) store fat more on the buttocks, thighs or even neck and back, with the average female having about 26% body fat as against the males lesser 18%.
Body Type Plays A Big Part
As in all training, body type is important with the thin ectomorph or muscular mesomorph having greater chances of muscular or defined waistlines, than his plumper endomorph friend.
Regarding body fat accumulation, remember, it is impossible to ‘spot reduce’ so do not fall for such gimmicks sold as ‘exercise belts’ vibrating machines and so on.
The only way to reduce is all over mobilizing of the fat cells from throughout the body, not from isolated locations. To lose weight quickly consume 1000 fewer calories a day than your individual maintenance requirements.
Detailed diet suggestions are out of the range of this article, but the simple formula for losing fat is to endeavor to use more energy than the calories you eat supply, hence you need to draw into the reserves of the fat stored around the waistline.
Calorie tables are readily available and it is usual for obese people to be advised to avoid high calories carbohydrates such as pastries, sweet foods, and excess fat.
Normal suggestions for slimness is to limit yourself to about 1000 – 1500 calories a day, generally resulting in a steady loss of 2lb per week. Crash diets are not advised, as they generally result in simply a loss of water and can even eat into some of the muscular tissue…something you do not want at any cost!
Exercising Your Core
The main muscles of the waist are the rectus abdominous, the muscles that give that much desired ‘washboard effect, and the external obliques.
The Functions of the rectus abdominous is to depress the thorax, compress the viscera and flex the body. The external obliques flex and rotate the pelvis.
For the Obliques all types of exercises which rotate the torso while keeping legs and hip stationery affect them, i.e. all twisting movements and side bends, plus of course most sports.
Progression on exercises is made by the normal practice of increasing exercise poundages or set/reps, for example, side bends with a dumbbell, all single-handed overhead lifts and bent forward twisting motions.
The rectus abdominous is exercised by all types of leg raises, or sit-ups, plus again almost all sports, especially gymnastics. Leg raises can include many variations from simple leg flutters to the usual straight leg raise, frog kicks hanging from a bar or parallel bars with added resistance provided by the use of a weight belt.
The general consensus is that the leg raising type of abdominal exercise is best for the lower abs. The alternative sit up exercise can vary from straight forward sit-ups with legs held straight or hooked under support to bent leg sip ups or ‘curl ups’.
Curl ups or ‘crunches are the shortest range move of all whereby the upper trunk is raised from just 2 to 4 inches to fully contract the abdominals. These types of sit up in general attack the upper abdominal formation.
It is important to realize that the abdominals range of movement is very short with the relatively unknown, but important hip flexors the Iliopsoas continuing the flexion of the trunk.
Anyone with a tendency to low back pain should particularly avoid any type of straight leg sit-ups or leg raises, as inherited or developed muscular imbalance often throws excess strain onto the hip flexors resulting in low back strain.
If you suffer from a ‘bad back’ do bent-leg sit-ups to avoid such possibilities.
Gymnastic stunts are great exercises for abdominals, from attempts at long arm press outs to ‘planches’ and ‘flags’. Most earlier strongmen practiced these showy stunts much to the admiration of their less fit fans.
Some of these hold out exercises take a whole lot of strength to perform and it would be good to see some of the stunts come back into fashion.
To get some idea of the long arm press outs effect upon the abs, try the popular ‘exercise wheel’ idea advertised to trim the waist and something you can make up from a centrally loaded dumbbell rod. (although you can get hold of a decent ab wheel for around $15)
Also useful for muscle definition and control is to learn how to perform the ancient YOGA exercise of sucking the stomach ( that’s not quite correct as really you breathe OUT and then lift the rib box, letting outside air pressure flatten your stomach wall). This exercise was improved upon in later years by the greatest exponent of muscle control Maxick…
Today all physique competitors of the highest category are familiar with and use the isolation techniques of muscle control in their posing routines resulting in some amazing displays of midsection perfection.
To Sum Up
In a nutshell..(a) Commence with dietary/calorie control to eliminate surplus flesh (b) Pay constant attention to posture attempting to hold your stomach in at all times…(c) Commence graduated muti waist exercises including twists and side bends for obliques and both sit up and leg raise variations for the rectus abdominus. (d) After a few months when strength has increased you can start to add extra resistance by poundage or repetitions
References & Acknowledgments
Excerpts taken from the excellent article ‘Midsection Perfection’, Author – David Gentle, BodyPower Magazine