Monday, May 21, 2001

Personal trainer

Shaping abdomen takes a balanced approach

By David Patania

        Question: I have been doing extra work for the past couple of months to get my stomach area tighter by doing crunches and using and ab-trainer type thing. I have become better at doing the exercises but no real changes in the abdominal area. What am I doing wrong?

        Answer: I noticed that you didn't mention anything about your eating habits. How you eat is 90 percent of the battle with regard to getting the results you desire.

        On any given day in America, there are millions of people ordering abmachines from TV and the Internet, doing tons abdominal exercises while, at the same time, ordering extra cheese on their hamburgers, etc. Rid yourself of this mindset that a particular exercise will allow you to make up for bad dietary habits.

        This cycle can easily be stopped by simply increasing your amountof physical activity and reducing the types/amount of foods that will add excess fat. You must pay as close attention to diet as ou do your abdominal exercises. This is because, while it is true that abdominal exercises will help strengthen the abdominal muscles, the layer of fat between your skin and muscle will not be reduced by ab exercises alone.

        You must take a balanced approach toward tightening up your abdominals. You must burn calories to rid yourself of excess body fat:

        • Get consistent cardiovascular exercise — no less than 3 days per week,20-30 minutes per session.

        • Do weight training — at least 2 days per week with at least one day of rest in between. This will help your body become lean which in turn helps make your body more efficient at burning calories.

        • Eat a low-fat, low sugar diet along with fruits and veggies. This will reduce this layer of fat in the stomach region.

        This process doesn't give you washboard abs in two days, but with consistency you will achieve great results that will last.

        You are doing the right thing by exercising the abdominal muscles. If you balance your routine by training the entire body, and view your eating habits as an equal part of the equation you will reach your goals.

        Dave Patania, a certified personal trainer, welcomes your questions at


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