Round Belly? Crunch It
By Lynn Difley
The most common question I am asked by students and fellow Rvers is what is the best thing I can do to trim my belly? It seems a universal annoyance, the fact that as we age, our six pack turns into a keg shape and refuses to reduce no matter how we frown at it. First of all, let me say that there is no way that a 60 year old belly is going to be as flat as a 20 year old belly.
Even those who are in top physical shape, with a low body fat ratio, are going to have some belly roundness to accommodate the internal organs which need a little more space as we age. Particularly if you have been through a pregnancy–as sympathetic mate or biological mother–the muscles of the abdominal wall will not have the appearance of the supermodel on the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. That said, what is the most effective exercise you can do to keep the flab at bay and keep the abdominals strong and functioning to protect the spine–as they are designed to do.
Studies show that the bicycle move is the one that involves the most abdominal muscle fiber. The Bicycle Crunch scored at the top of the list of best exercises in a study done at San Diego State University. The study compared the favorite 13 abdominal exercises using a EMT (which rates muscle stimulus)
Here’s how you do this winner of the ab flattening contest:
- Lie on your back on a mat or padded surface.
- Keep your lower back pressed against the ground.
- Bring your knees up right above the hips.
- Place your hands lightly behind your ears. Be sure to keep those hands lightly placed, so you do not pull on your neck.
- Bring your left elbow toward your right knee, then your right elbow toward your left knee.
- Keep your back gently pressed into the floor.
- Squeeze the abdominal muscles and breathe deeply throughout.
Tip: Remember to slowly but deliberately lift your shoulders off the floor and focus on the abdominal muscle doing the work. Don’t aim to get your shoulder off the ground as much as possible but to feel the abdominal contraction. You should not focus on bringing the shoulder up with any other muscle grou, such as the neck and shoulder.