Thursday, August 17, 2017

Why the Abs?

If you didn't know already, I am a personal trainer.  I am also a group fitness instructor, running coach as well as a black belt in mixed martial arts.  

Every time I take on a new client, I do an assessment of their physical fitness. I ask them thing like; “how much time do you have to commit to daily exercise?”, “Are there exercises you absolutely hate to do?”, “What does your current routine look like?”, and of course, “What are your goals?”I also ask my group fitness class every month if there is something would like to focus on over the next few weeks.

Inevitably, the answer is: “core”. “We want core work.” “I want better abs.” “I want a flat stomach.”

In my head, the response is always; “You know you have other body parts, right?” And usually during the assessment for an individual, I discover areas other than core that are needed to improve ADLs (activities of daily living). 

Most younger people don't think bout ADL's because they function just fine (note: the activities of daily living are considered: eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring [walking] and continence.) Even if they have some weakness, their youth and strength is enough to muscle through or compensate in some way. No one should use the compensation approach but they do.

Unless you had a sudden debilitating health incident, it is hard to understand the importance of having a full functioning body.  I broke my wrist many years ago and relatively recently had an ACL/meniscus surgery. I understand being disabled. Walking is kind of important. Try brushing your teeth with your other hand!

So why to you all want the Abs?!  Most of you are not going to walk around with exposed bellies even if they were rock hard.  I get it. Most of us are vain to a degree, but we’re not likely going to wear a bikini to the pool or beach. I know I personally would be judging your fashion choices more than admiring your oiled midriffs. 

Nobody wants to walk around with a big stomach regardless if it is due to a medical condition or lifestyle choices. Focusing on core alone won’t produce 6-pack abs and it won’t improve your overall quality of life.

Yes, you need a strong core to support your spine. But you also need a strong back and shoulders too.  To really achieve less back pain, you need those things in addition to a daily dose of cardio to burn calories preferably HIIT (High intensity interval training).  HIIT taps the easy stored abdominal energy to fuel the workout and afterward keeps your metabolism elevated through EPOC (exercise post oxygen consumption).  

A combination of steady state cardio, HIIT and strength should give you a rocking core (I am not promising a 6-pack). To get the abs of your dreams, it is a full-time commitment to diet and exercise. Your dinner could be steamed broccoli with skinless chicken with dessert of a Listerine strip. Yum!

Flat abs start in the kitchen.  I am not a dietician and cannot recommend your daily diet but you know darn well why your belly bulges out from under your clothes.  Exercise is needed, genetics play a big part but diet is what will make the most difference.

The big concern regarding the abs is the fat that is hanging around your middle. It is killing you. This visceral fat increases your risk for cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Keep an eye on your abs for the right reasons, your health. 

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