Twist your way to a TIGHT tummy.
THERE'S far more to a flat belly than sex appeal. Studies claim that this is also the key to good health. It's the flab that collects around the abdominal region which marks the onset of obesity as excess fat starts accumulating in this spot, first. " Abdominal fat is the precursor to a host of medical complications. These include acid reflux, cardiovascular diseases, blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis and even back problems," says Zubin Atre, director, The Atre Yoga Studio. It's also linked with higher chances of sleep apnoea, dementia and Alzheimer's.
Reducing abdominal fat calls for a holistic approach where you will need to work on your entire midriff and follow a step- by- step programme. " Doing crunches alone is not the answer to a flat tummy as this works only at the surface level. You need to work on your abdominal muscles that lie deep inside," explains Kiran Sawhney, owner, Fitnesolution.
Here is a step to step guide on how to shape up your midriff.
CHANGE THE WAY YOU EAT
IN ORDER to shed flab around your waist, start with mindful eating.
" Research says that 70 per cent of this can be achieved only by diet modification. It's only the remaining 30 per cent that can be attained by regular and consistent exercises," says Sumaya Dalmiya, director, CREeME Beauty & Bodyworks.
Diet modification doesn't mean starving yourself, but making some changes in the way you eat. " Increase lean protein such as poultry, fish, dairy, peas, beans and lentils.
Reduce sugar in your diet that mainly comes from refined sugar, potato and rice. Small meals taken in shot intervals are better as they help in faster digestion and better utilisation and distribution of calories, thus minimising the chances of fat accumulation," she says. Don't hit the bed immediately after dinner, but keep a gap of 2- 3 hours.
BURN CALORIES, DO AEROBICS
THE second step is to burn the fat that's already present. " The idea of spot fat reduction doesn't really work in the beginning.
You need to go for overall weight loss with specific attention to certain body parts," says Sawhney. Get involved in cardio- aerobic activities. " All activities that increase the heart rate and help in burning body fat come under the ambit of aerobics.
Walk on the treadmill, go for brisk walk, run, jog, swim, dance, or do cycling," she says. Any of these, if done consistently, will show positive results. " However, make sure you do these at least four times a week for better results," points out Dalmiya.
NEXT come core strengthening and stabilisation that help improve abdominal muscle strength. Core strengthening goes beyond workout of muscles at the surface level and helps utilise the internal muscles of the back and abdomen.
" Pilates exercises are one of the best forms of core strengthening that work overall on back muscles, oblique and abdominal muscles as well as legs," says Dalmiya.
Also isometric workout done on a plank is a great tummy tightener.
" Isometric workout is a static workout that doesn't involve any dynamic movement," says Sawhney.
As the name suggests, " iso" means same and " metric" means length -- so basically you need to hold yourself in the same position of contracted muscles and do the exercise. " This has a direct impact on core abdominal muscles," says Sawhney.
TONE UP WITH DEVICES
THE fourth stage involves shaping up, and abdominal crunches play a big role. However, technique is crucial to avoid injuring your cervical spine. Also remember to isolate your muscles during the workout. " This means while lifting your upper body, ensure that only your abdominal muscles are doing the job and not taking support from hands or other muscles," says Sawhney. Some athletic training devices such as the Bosu ball come in handy. An acronym for " both sides up", this half ball offers an unstable surface and is used for balance training.
" Abdominal crunches, when done using a Bosu ball greatly benefit as it gives support to the spine, which is not possible in the conventional crunches," says Sawnhey.
Also use Swiss balls, iso toners, hula hoop, medicine ball, etc.
BALANCING WITH YOGA
WHILE core strengthening and toning will give you the desired look, you can't ignore the fact that many cases of belly fat are an outcome of hormonal imbalances that need to be addressed differently.
And this is where yoga comes in. " There are various asanas that work either directly on abdominal muscles, or indirectly on the endocrine system which in turn correct the hormonal imbalance and belly fat connected with it," explains Atre.
But breathing technique is extremely important as 50 per cent impact is made by this.
Remember that you need to breathe in and out throughout and not hold breath in one position.
This massages the organs involved internally. " If you hold your breath, the blood pressure tends to go up, muscles become stiff making you uncomfortable.
So you won't be able to hold your position for long," says Atre.
INCLUDE THE BACK
KEEP in mind that back muscle strengthening and extension exercises must complement abdominal exercises for a complete midriff workout. " This is so because if you work only on one muscle, it becomes prime and strong, while the opposite muscle becomes weak and hence starts getting pulled towards the prime muscle," says Sawhney.
In case of abdominal exercises, if you don't work on your back muscles parallel, your posture will go for a toss and you will develop back ache too.
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