Saturday, June 20, 2009
Lose Your Bellyfat
10 Steps To Tighter Abs
by Tom Furman
Having a lean, tight, abdominal, region, seems to be one of the primary fitness goals in America. Thousands of dollars are spent on fashion to either display or hide this showcase of human physiology. Even more money is spent on diet books, surgery, exercise devices and instruction to make one’s waistline lean and mean. The problem is confusion. Years ago there was little research and not a lot of resources. Today, the problem is too much. Too many methods, too many masters. The general public is conflicted with slickly worded ads, and colorfully filmed infomercials. The bookshelves are filled with attractive authors offering waist trimming methodology, dietary science, and physical voodoo. What is the easiest path to traffic stopping abdominals? There is none. I know, that’s not what you wanted to hear, but there ARE effective, clear cut methods. They DO require work. But you'll need some solid knowledge first. Let’s break it down into ten steps:
Understanding the different types of fat in the human body is important to understand.
• Visceral fat–This is the dangerous fat inside your abdominal cavity, in and around your organs. This is the fat that some men have in their midsections, it is well hidden, but it causes them to look big and when you touch it, they are quite hard or solid and they will usually tell you "I am not fat, I am solid, feel this!" This is because the fat is so deep, you cannot feel it.
• Deep abdominal fat–The deepest subcutaneous layer of fat around your middle. This is the fat responsible for "love handles". It is more visible than visceral fat.
• Upper superficial abdominal fat–subcutaneous fat (under the skin) in the upper sector of your waist.
• Lower superficial abdominal fat–Subcutaneous fat in the lower sector of your waist
• Hip and thigh fat, also called “stubborn fat”. Almost exclusively in women.
This list runs from easiest to lose, to hardest to lose. These types of fats react differently because of blood flow, hormones, and MANY other complex factors. The best part is understanding that FAT is stored energy. Despite what you hear, it’s about physics. If you burn more energy, and consume less energy, your body will lose fat. It’s frustrating, however, that the last place to go is the lower stomach and thighs. These are particularly troublesome areas for many people.
There are many arguments over which methodology is more important for a tight, flat, tummy, aerobics or strength work. The answer is both. The leanest of athletes (not necessarily a good example) burn lots of calories, do ample aerobic work and also do resistance training. The key is not to make things overly complex. Any person who participated in the Military will tell you how good their fitness level was. The Military trains the worlds most effective fighting forces with body weight calisthenics and running. The combination of using large muscle groups doing large movements like pulling, pushing, squatting, and lifting, combined with quick runs or sprints seems to be the best combination. In other words, if you are sitting in an exercise machine, get off of it, and go to the park for some FREE training on the par-course or jungle gym. You will get leaner faster, not to mention, cheaper.
How people should eat currently occupies a large portion of Barnes and Noble’s Bookstores. Here is a general rule, eat less. That’s it. Eat less, burn more, and magic things will happen. Because of modern manufacturing, the abundance of deep-fried carbohydrates is at an all time high. We are totally out of whack with what we stuff into our pie holes. The priorities should go like this. First, adequate, lean protein. Second, enough essential and good fat. Third carbohydrates from greens and fruits. Last, plenty of liquids that contain NO calories.
4. Age and Sex.
As we age things change. (There’s an understatement). We become less active and more focused on food. That 50 extra calories eaten add a pound of fat over 70 days. That’s five pounds a year, and by your 10-Year High School Reunion, you are fifty pounds overweight! Amazing how AGE gets blamed for getting fat and free will is not. The truth is, as adults age, their hormones change a bit. Men become more like women and women become more like men. Men gain more weight in their “female” areas like breasts. Women gain more in the “male” areas like the belly. The rules still apply. Get lean, stay lean, and stay fit. Adherence to tighter meals and less carbohydrates can help. These “fatty” areas are particularly susceptible to insulin producing carbohydrates as we age. Being stringent and sticking to veggies and fruits instead of bagels and pasta may be all the magic you need to beat nature.
5. Cold Water Drinking.
Ample cold water is a gimmick used by many diet gurus. The research is still unclear. The theory is that drinking huge amounts of cool water forces the body to dissipate heat and there is some caloric expenditure from the body dealing with cold water. There is no reason to over drink water. We are a very hydrated nation. However, drinking water in place of caloric enhanced beverages is a good substitution. Sitting in traffic holding your urine may give you a bladder infection which is not good for health and fitness.
6. Abdominal Exercise. There is plenty of mythology surrounding training the abdominals. The current BUZZ word is “core” training. It is based in the athletic science of training the postural muscles to create stability. Many sophisticated methods of movement are suggested to achieve this. Let me tell you the truth. Put 300 lbs. overhead in any fashion you wish and you find out all you need to know about core stability. Heavy lifting, or rather lifting heavy relative to your own levels, has benefits that are far reaching. Training the muscles of the waistline to look good, however, can be broken down like this:
• Folding. Bringing ribs to pelvis or pelvis to ribs
• Twisting. This would include side bending, chopping wood, etc.
• Bracing. Simply hardening the abdominals and holding them against gravity. It’s important to vary the stress, duration, and intensity of abdominal training. They are postural muscles and recover quickly. Feel free to try different methods but adhere to the outline presented.
7. Posture and Bodywork.
Constantly driving and working on computers has distorted modern day posture. Have someone take a photo of you from the side and go from there. Picture someone grasping your hair and pulling upwards. Shoulders should be down and back. Ears, hips, and ankles should be aligned. “Forward Head” posture may need more than just a change in habits. Deep tissue bodywork can relieve tension, and manage correct posture. In fact, all the sitting and hunching can shorten the distance between the ribs and hips making your waistline look thicker. A few sessions with deep tissue bodywork, like Rolfing, can eliminate the tension and “create space” therefore reducing waistline thickness.
No one currently gets enough sleep. Maybe your dog or cat. Recovery via restful sleep is paramount in the whole fat loss, muscle building formula. Seven hours is good, eight is better, and if you are really training heavily, a nap may be needed.
9. Create an Illusion.
If you are already lean and fit, but not as tall and lean as you would like, you need to create an illusion. This means working hard on your shoulders, neck, upper back, gluteal region and lower body. When those areas are fit and developed, the waist looks tinier.
Last, but not least is Cosmetic Surgery. No amount of diet or sit ups will remove loose skin. No amount of weight training will alter muscles torn from child birth or surgery. If a trainer tells you otherwise they are sucking money out of your wallet and not fat out of your waist. Specifically targeted liposuction removes fat depots that are resistant to even the most stringent of diet and exercise regimens. It is not a method to lose body fat or to make a fat person have less rolls. It should only be considered only after you are fit, lean and strong. Not everyone is a candidate for surgery, so you will also need to be cleared by your doctor for this.
So, there you have it. Ten steps to inform, motivate, and entertain you. What is missing is the motivation to start. I have to remember what my friend, Celebrity Trainer Mike Mahler said. “If being 300 pounds is not motivation enough to lose weight...don’t call me!” The responsibility to ACT is up to you.
Tom Furman has been involved in martial arts and conditioning since the early seventies. Tom’s training methods are derived from his decades long passion of martial arts and his study of exercise science. He is currently a devotee of Indonesian Pentjak Silat. Tom runs www.TomFurman.com, where he trains professional athletes and others in strength, conditioning and movement skills. He is the creator of the popular “Concrete Conflict and Conditioning” and “Activate Your Dynamic Range of Motion” DVDs, which integrate strength, movement, and physical combat.
Sources: www.bodyrecomposition.com from Lyle McDonald. www.mikemahler.com