Monthly Archives: April 2012

Fitness Article : The Abs-olute Truth Part I

I guess the centre piece of every well defined body is the abdominal muscles, a bulging set of six packs which show superior genetics, discipline or dieting. And in fitness, many people would like to train to get that centre piece and see that as the end-all in the training.

It isn’t that difficult, but it also requires hours of dedication per week as well as a sensible diet plan. And you can stow away the myths that some hi-tech equipment would help you achieve abs with 8 minutes flat, or some diet mix would help you.

Well, there’s this one equipment that will DEFINITELY help you get an instant six pack, except that its a bit ridiculous and would be only good for a laugh.

Instant Six Pack Abs – For about 10 minutes

But seriously, you cant buy fitness instantly, though you can fake it. But why deprive yourself of the joy of exercise and go through dubious shortcuts. It defeats the purpose of the journey – its like telling people that you can become an expert on a subject matter by reading just one book. Like I always say, fitness is the journey, you have to enjoy the journey and all the benefits would come naturally. And now on to the “short cut” methods and their efficacy.

The Lowdown on these “Short-Cuts”

TV Advertised , Ab-cruncher type machines

These come in many forms, and they all promote a rocking motion of the body to enhance the flexion of the abdominal muscle and cradle your neck, making the exercise easy and giving you a nice tight feeling on your waist, and all in 8 minutes a day.

What you dont see is the fine print that says this should be conbined with a sensible diet a an hour of exercise 4 tims weekly in the box, which would make the money back guarantee almost impossible to get back unless you expend real effort. But by buying this product you dont expect to put in any substantial sweat meets the ground (1-2 hour hard workout) kind of effort would you ?

These exercises work by creating an easy abdonminal exercise, but you dont need easy abdominal exercise to get stronger abs. Lifting weight or running would use your abs in substantially more useful ways than an ab specific machine. The abs are not powerful muscles but rather muscles that are quite fatigue resistant and strong by themsleves. They are not visible because they are covered by fat and not that they are weak.

The only real and compelling reason to strength your core (not just abs which i will explain later) is to have greater back support and stability which will help in all aspects of movement, sports and daily life, and there no specific one exercise to do it. Over-strengthening the abdominal muscles would only cause potential for more injury if the rest of your muscles are not strengthened in proportion. Which leads us to the next point.

Diet Pills and Powders 

They have been around for some time, each diet powder promising that you will lose 5 kgs of weight if you follow their strict diet plan and take their miracle powder – which is made from safe herbs and ingredients. Basically, its like paying for overpriced dubious vitamins and a diet plan.

Like exercise equipment, these diet pills and powders come with a nice disclaimer, which says that you have to follow the strict diet plan (which is at a restricted 1000 Kcal or less). Meaning even without the diet pills and powders, you can lose 1kg per week or more. Maximum weight loss recommended is about 1 kg (2 lbs) per week. To lose 1 kg, you theoretically have to cut back on 3850 calories per week or 550 calories per day. But these diets make you cut about 1000kcal per day. (Normal Intake is about 2000-2500 Kcals).

Essentially, you are paying to starve.

Furthermore, alot of the ingredients in these diet pills are not tested, diet pills are not FDA regulated because they are viewed as supplements and not drugs. Thus, they could get away with claims like lose 100kg in 1 day and still get your money. Alot of the ingredients contain substances which might not be good for your liver, there are documnted instances which led to liver failure and death.

Popular Fat busting drug Hydroxycut under big brand name Muscle Tech

“Hydroxycut is the most popular brand of weight-loss supplement, selling approximately 1 million units per year. On May 1, 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration(FDA) issued a warning after some Hydroxycut products were linked to liver damage, rhabdomyolysis, and at least one death. The manufacturer then agreed to recall the products. Shortly after the recall, Hydroxycut was “reformulated” with reportedly some different ingredients and placed back for sale.

Many more of these untested drugs by smaller companies up for a quick buck are making huge claims with harmful substances. So before you put these in your body, ask youself.

“Would i waste time and money and health on untested diet pills and powders that will only make me rely on them in the long run, or should i stop relying on quick fixes and start putting in the time and effort on the things that i know will work and will be beneficial for me in the long run”.

More on Fitness Article: Ab-solute Truth Part II (How to get a six pack and keep it).

Mind Article : The Psychology and Heart in Running

Mind Article : The Psychology and Heart of Running

According to Christopher Mc Dougall, the author of the best selling book “Born to Run“, he mentioned that people set targets – a marathon to run and that they were running in a performance arena. In a race, there is only one winner.

So many people run with this kind of attitude – that if you don’t win, you lose. Then began the metaphor that life was a race, a rat race and that we have limited resources in. Life becomes a competition, and in a competition there are only other competitors and no friends.

We often take the competitive spirit and use this psychology to push us far, really far. And sometimes this makes us stronger but then we end up strung out and on our toes. Life is a race, but in the end this race is only with ourselves. We do not need to make up enemies to charge at in our pain and discomfort , to hardwire ourselves for a struggle when that is not the case.

Running your own Race – The Secret of the Tarahumara

One thing i found very interesting is that the Trauhumara tribe who were actually insanely good runners (super athletes to be exact), do not run to win – they run as a way of life. They run in groups not to race but to work (hunt) and play together, maybe life is not so much about seeing people as competition but rather working with each other to put our best foot forward.

Maybe that’s what makes them such great runners because they have a sense of joy and from that sense of joy there comes greatness, and when we stop screaming and start listening we become kinder and gentler to people and kinder and gentler to ourselves. They run not for victory or a list of accomplishments to boast of but for camaraderie and the sheer joy of using their bodies for a basic, essential purpose. And therein lies the secret power of the super athletes.

Run not to win but to be happy

I see some people run casually in the streets, they have this grim mask, that says “I must do this I must compete and beat myself, I must win” or “Not again, not another run”. They run with a certain kind of intoxication that’s dangerous (an intoxication with themselves), they usually are focused on the results so much so that the reason and joy of running is lost to them , they run not with a clear headed purpose and playfulness but drop dead seriousness as though this is a life and death run. That its part and parcel of their “discipline”, “must-do” and checklist of achievements.

In this kind of running there could be either two outcomes, that you fail to achieve or that you finally conquered yourself and you feel disappointed because the next guy beside you ran a 3 hour 59 minute marathon while you ran a 4.5 hour marathon.

Live life on your own term - Stop Comparing

There are no “must-dos” in life, but rather a choose to do. When you resign yourself to must-dos you resign yourself to giving up the self awareness and the joys of making choices that matter, instead you assign yourself a hard script which you have to follow.

In the end the race is only with yourself, are you going to enjoy the process of running are you there just for the results ? Do you approach your health and fitness (and life in general) with reverence and awe or as something that has to be accomplished and crushed under the sheer force of your indomitable will ?

Running with Heart

There is strength in compassion and a greater strength in ourselves than we believe in. Chris MacDougall recounts this story about, an Ethiopian woman named Derartu Tulu who turns up at the starting line in a race she would unlikely be able to win.

She kept up with the lead runners and was pitted against Paula Raddcliffe who won the New York Marathon four times. Paula had a hamstring injury crop up but Derartu encouraged and waited for her, while the lead pack blazed forward. While Derartu finally ran, she won the marathon, with alot of heart and compassion. The true epitome of victory.

Finishing Strong

The video above is that of Derek Redmond, an Olympic runner. He posted the fastest time of the first round in the Olympics, and went on to win his quarter-final. In the semi-final, his hamstring snapped. He hobbled and stopped and fell to the ground in pain. Medics rushed to help him, but he wanted to finish the race. He began to hobble along the track and was joined on the track by his father. When they crossed the finish line, the crowd of 65,000 spectators rose to give Derek a standing ovation.

A Hero in all of us

Kristen Koh

Never Give Up - Be Inspirational

The above picture shows Kirsten Koh. In a freak accident when she collided with a truck and was dragged underneath. She  fractured both ankles and femurs. Her pelvis was shattered. Her left shoulder, fibula and shin bones were broken. She went on to have 19 operations totaling more than 80 hours and was bed-ridden for 2.5 months.

Yet, she never gave up. The doctors did not give a good prognosis about her ability to walk, not to mention run. But she persevered, and in the article, she mentioned that it was very hard to keep going, when life everyday was a pain.  She drew her strength from stories people who have survived from accidents and come back stronger, but essentially i guess she drew power from herself – her inner hero. She would be in the Adidas Sundown Marathon, 42 km, completing the event from sheer heart and an ability to take life on its own terms and come out stronger and better – In short , she’s coming out a hero.

“Everybody loves a hero. People line up for them…cheer them…scream their names. And years later, they’ll tell how they stood in the rain for hours just to get a glimpse of the one who taught them to hold on a second longer. I believe there’s a hero in all of us…that keeps us honest…gives us strength…makes us noble…and finally allows us to die with pride”

Aunt May – In Spiderman

We all have that inner hero, the guy who tells us not to give up, it’s the hero within us that ultimately tells  us to live our lives brave and strong, and though it is not the easiest path but it is the most rewarding.

Fitness Article – The Science and Art of Running Part II (Final)

If you run 100 miles a week, you can eat anything you want — Why? Because
(a) you’ll burn all the calories you consume,
(b) you deserve it, and
(c) you’ll be injured soon and back on a restricted diet anyway.
–Don Kardong

First off, humans are great when it comes to running. Author of the ground breaking book – Born to Run explains (Do take a few minutes to listen, if you are a runner this will benefit you immensely).

You are more than what you think. Far greater.

Running – Our latent potential

Running causes overuse injury and somehow we link running long distances to a sure ticket to chronic injury and pain. Yet if we were to go back 10000 years, running injuries were unheard of. And marathons according to some prehistoric tribes (which currently still exist) were no big deal when they were doing 100 mile runs for hunting and gathering. An exerpt from wiki pedia on our latent athletic prowess – Do note that the Tarahumara still exist as a tribe in North-western Mexico.

“The Tarahumara also use the toe strike method of running, which is natural forbarefoot running. The long-distance running tradition also has ceremonial and competitive aspects. Often, male runners kick wooden balls as they run in “foot throwing”, or rarajipari competitions, and females use a stick and hoop. The foot throwing races are relays where the balls are kicked by the runners and relayed to the next runner while teammates run ahead to the next relay point. These races can last anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days without a break.”

Why aren’t we great runners ?

In short we have awesome and kick-ass latent stamina. More so than we think we are capable of. So why do we huff and puff after a run down a block of steps or a short jog to catch a bus ?

Avoid running injuries, strengthen your feet

Because we don’t have to run in modern society and the pain we associate with running. Imagine in school when you were forced to run, in whatever gait possible under a certain timing which you never trained for in your sedentary years as a student, This would probably shape your perception of running, its painful and extremely tiring. And most of us would not run unless we are forced to.

Our  tendons and muscles are not developed from young, so our bodies are not well developed for distance. Running on concrete in high-tech shoes can change our biomechanics in running, increasing the risks of injury, so a marathon in heavily cushioned shoes and concrete floors with a weird heel-strike gait using heavily cushioned shoes is a sure ticket to messing up your body. This explains why we are not great runners, we are not trained and equipped to run long distances. So ……

Throw away your shoes

Have you ever seen a toddler walk, they probably would walk with a mid-foot strike, meaning that it would be the most natural form of running. Traditional running shoes create a problem of ineffective gait.

Yes, Nike and Reebok pulled a fast one on you. Their impeccable studies on running has actually led them to conclude that to protect the feet they decided on stiff soles and arch supports. Stiff soles and arch supports are great in encouraging heel strike and weakening your feet. Weak feet and heel strikes promote crappy running posture, when you land on the heel you over-pronate, it causes rotation on the tibia and causes pain on the knee (In layman terms heel strike causes you feet to rotate and grind your knees to injury).

There’s tons of literature on the evils of the heel strike. Yet, Nike, Reebok and Adidas are making tons of money promoting shoes that are meant to make running comfortable but end up making it very painful in the long run. That’s commercialisation for you, with expert knowledge thrown around like Godiva announcing that mil choclate reduces weight.

The advantages of throwing away your shoes or getting minimal shoes are many. Which include

Stronger feet especially in the arch. A healthy foot is a strong foot, one that pronates less and is less liable to develop a collapsed arch.

Develop strong feet and grace But try not to balance on your feet like that.

Less energy used. as the forefoot strike uses the natural springs in your foot and calf muscles more to store and release energy. Instead of pounding the muscles and making them act as suspension for the impact, use your body as a spring to efficiently recycle energy from each stride (its like bouncing on a ball).

Minimal forces on your feet, running actually becomes more enjoyable. Shoes weigh a lot, multiply it by the number of times you lift your feet and the wasted energy from heel strikes and it makes running like swimming with a tugboat strapped on you.

In conclusion, you do not need cushioning for your feet, when you barefoot run, you automatically reduce the impact that your feet makes with the ground (or your will learn minimise the impact to because its very painful). Forefoot running is optimal in reducing impact by using natural mechanics of your body provided you have sufficient protection from abrasions (use minimal shoes if you are not a sucker for pain, otherwise developing hard calluses is a painful process).

Perfect your form 

Essentially running as about cadence, posture and technique. Perfected running technique has been described as effortless, fun and playful. It is almost an ART-form and a beautiful expression of our physical prowess (No we are not born cubicle dwellers, we were once proud hunter gatherers who now dominate the world). Anyone seeing a ballerina dance would easily identify the grace that efficient and effortless running entails.

Cadence – I mentioned previously about cadence, which is important because if you take less strides per minute, you would probably be placing more force and friction on one leg, to minisie it, increase the speed at which you move your feet and minmise your stride.

Posture – Its important not to slouch because unless you are looking for a back injury, a arms relaxed shoulder blades back and straight posture would benefit you more in the long run, it also opens up your lungs when you keep a straight posture enabling you to breathe deeper.

Technique – Mid-foot strike leaning in to generate momentum. Running should feel more effortless as you perfect this (and you should feel like you are running on springs).

Here are a few good sites to learn more about barefoot running

Good Form Running – Intuitive and easy to understand, all in one diagram-type of explanation. Recommended.

Beginners guide to long distance running – A good and sensible approach to running when you are starting out.

The Human Body is built for distance – On why we are the most kick ass runners, and why people running on sandals had less injuries than us when they did twice the distance.

Balanced Running – Learn more about running from a professional physio. Sensible advice.

Fitness Article – The Science and Art of Running Part I

“I always loved running…it was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs.”
Jesse Owens

Running can be liberating and fun

Running is one of the most popular sports in the world. Very much so because, you just need a pair of shoes and a good route, and you are off. Running is very liberating and it is like a not-so-quiet meditation we have with ourself, when we pant and sweat burn off the stress while subdue the raging maniac within us to find peace within ourselves. Running is a very credible and enjoyable sport in itself. IF we do it in our own pace and IF we do it correctly.

Why Running is Good 

1) It makes you breathe stronger – Long distance running helps your breathing capabilities. It enhances your lung capacity. Also do note that using proper breathing techniques like the Pranayam breathing techniques together with running also helps immensely as most of us simply don’t breathe deeply enough. The more oxygen in your blood, the less fatigued and more mentally alert we feel. We normally use shallow breathing in daily life and this does not exercise the diaphragm and lungs enough.

2)Your heart literally gets stronger from running, which makes sense because your heart is a muscle as well as the most important muscle in your body (you can live without a bicep but not a heart).A stronger heart improves your resting heart rate, which in the long run would mean that you will tire less easily. Your heart rate after a slow jog would be that of a person sitting down and playing the piano. In short – Very important for vitality.

3) Reduce blood pressure, Increased red blood cells and Increased energy levels , these all work in tandem, as you heart gets stronger and pumps blood more effectively, it conditions a reduction in blood pressure (and with it all the diseases related with a high blood pressure). Red blood cells also increase making you more efficient in carrying oxygen with less blood. These work to increase your energy levels and ability to sustain straneous activity for a longer period of time.

4) Running makes you smarter, according to scientists Cambridge and the National Institute of Ageing, running generates new grey matter in the brain. This means running can literally improve your memory. Also, physical benefits like the release of endorphins (“Runner’s high”) and reduction of stress hormones also are good reasons why you should start putting on your running shoes.

Running Makes You Smarter ? Maybe NOT in this case.

How to run correctly

Starting a running program is tricky because usually when we start running we punish and push ourselves to incredible lengths. Most times only to give up when a debilitating injury hurts us. Running is most dangerous for the beginner and most precautions should be taken when you start running. It isnt as simple as hitting the track and running your guts out and hoping to be slim  and achieve a six pack ( a diet and eight training could help you achieve that in no time).

Running is more of an Art and you have to approach it carefuly. Theres alot of noise about the pushing and never-give-up mentality and pound the ground with nothing but pure frustration and a better timing. But hold your horses for a while because …………………

Running is a high-impact activity

It has a strong potential to cause injuries from overuse, and this is especially dangerous for beginners who are high in enthusiasm and low in fitness. Beginners have lower bone density, joints and muscles that are ill suited or adapted to the stress of impact. A normal 5 km run would see your feet strike the ground at about 3-5 times your body weight for about 6000-9000 times, once off alignment, You would be asking for injuries in the long run. Thus it is important to ease gently into running and proceed cautiously.

That’s because running is a repetitive high-impact activity. Consequently, it has a strong potential to cause overuse injuries, especially in beginners whose bones, joints, and muscles have not yet adapted to the stress of repeated impact. Therefore it is important to ease gently into running and proceed cautiously. Otherwise you will surely get injured and have to take a break and start over.

Ease into it 

Start with brisk walk (or based on higher fitness level, a slow jog ) to mobilise major joints especially the lower body such as your ankles, knees and hips before moving into a sustainable and moderate or easy pace. From here gradually increase the jogging segment until you are able to jog for 20 minutes straight with proper warm up. (Aim for time first then distance)

Program Yourself 

Try not to grind yourself into the ground by working out everyday, chances are that your muscles and knees would likely give out before you do. Your legs need a good 48 hour rest between runs to repair and get stronger (especially if you have not been running for some time). Alternate runs with non impact exercises, such as weights and cycling or swimming. Over a period of a few weeks, try to increase the duration and/or frequency of each run, until you are at a comfortable and challenging position.

As below are a few running schedules for Beginner and Advanced levels

1) Couch to 5K Running Plan – For the ultimate beginner , a good guide.

2) 5 K Race training – For speedier 5K runs for beginners.

3)Advanced Marathon Training – For those who would like high levels of progression and probably end up in a marathon some day.

More in Fitness Article – The Science and Art of Running Part II (Get the right shoes!)

Mind Article – Courage to Change

Many times, be it in fitness or in life. We face uphill challenges, usually those that will uproot us and cause us to sell out our dreams for something less (and again in some point of time, to sell out for something lesser until our dreams are effectively and totally sold out ). Circumstances or people, tell us in our face that we should do this or that – that this job is the dream job or that we look good with the excess weight and should focus on more important things in life other than health and fitness. They have our best interest in mind and would want us to take the least risk adverse route in life. But the least risk adverse route is not always the best route (see previous article).

The direct relationship between Life and Courage

In the face of uncertainty, we always want to stick with the well trodden path that many people (who don’t know us as well as we know ourselves) think is right for us – and if we accept it, we will resign ourselves to limits that circumstances and people impose on us.

I always remember this video by Victor Frankl – a powerfully motivational man who says that “If you take man as what he really is, we make him worse. But if we seem to be idealist and overestimate him and see him for what he CAN be, we promote him to what he really is capable of. So we have to be idealist in a way, so we can be the true realist and unlock the potential of man.” Goethe also quotes that “When we treat man as he is, we make him worse than he is; when we treat him as if he already were what he potentially could be, we make him what he should be.”

In order to go where we need to go, it requires a lot of trying and not settling for things that are not in line with our purpose – it requires COURAGE.  When we try to change something, there is always resistance -strong resistance. When we try to start a fitness routine, we have to deal with major muscle aches, time reschedules, lack of instant results, pain of not eating whatever we can. Likewise, be it a career move or decision to study something you want, we will always face major obstacles.

We need the courage to not back down and somehow bite down hard and keep trying all avenues. Change is never easy, but neither is life. If we aim for an easy life, we would find out that we never truly achieved anything. If we never struggled, we would lose that fighting spirit to really go out and get what we want, instead of relying on our own personal power, we would then be relying on sifting through whatever life throws at us hoping it would be a piece we want. Which is not how we would want to live.

I believe that to change, we need courage, not excuses. If Thomas Edison accepted when his teacher told him he was too stupid to learn anything where he was counselled to go into a field where he might succeed by virtue of his pleasant personality. Would he end up where is was ?

Limits are what others and circumstances impose on ourselves. Creatively limits have been constantly erased by people who believed in themselves (rather than circumstances or other people).

Nick shows us that its courageously possible to live life fully if you don't limit what you are capable of.

Nowhere is  this more true than in Nick Vujicic, who was born with no arms and legs. He has gone on to skydive, surf, play golf and soccer, achieve a university degree and even win a fight against a school bully (by launching a flying head butt) and is one of the best motivational speakers in the world. If someone told him that he could not achieve anything in life without limbs, where would he end up ? If he did not believe in himself and things that he can accomplish , where would hthen end up? Always have the courage to stand up things you want to change and with conviction it is possible to find a way.

We all have a choice, to choose a better life (or bitter life). Have the courage to choose a better life.

Mind Article – Chasing Dreams

I heard as you get older (and bigger), your dreams get smaller. When we were younger (much), we had dreams of doing certain things with our lives, to travel the world in a hot air balloon, run a marathon, join a competition, do something big with our lives. But along the way as we go along life, we get less willing to dream, and many times, these dreams slowly get killed off by this thing called reality.

What then is reality, is it pragmatism ? It is being less able to dream ? Alot of people say, stop having your heads in the clouds be realistic and do what everyone does. But is the average man happy ? Divorce rates are at one of the highest now, prozac and other anti depressant pills as well as mental illness are increasing together with obesity and drug use. I guess the average man isnt happy and if we continue to think like the average man, then we would have an average life, which is quite bleak if you ask me.

Dream a little longer and stronger, and maybe live your life with less “what ifs” because you live only once, “what if you found that you are more capable of what you think you are able to achieve ? God forbid that we end up as all dreamers and chaser, but wouldn’t the world be slightly brighter if we chased our dreams or kept them in sight instead of locked up in our hearts somewhere and stowed away by tons of “being realistic”. I guess this video shows all, take a minute or two out of your busy schedule to at least see it, it was meaninful (at least to me).

Body Article : An Equipment-less Gym – Part II (Final)

Back workout

The back muscles are often neglected. As we tend to train the more visible and easier seen, chest, arms and leg muscles. However, the back muscle is one of the most important posture muscles. Have you seen a ballet dancer, when they walk their chin is drawn back and shoulder blades are taut with a straight spine. Basically to achieve a complete body and great posture, include back muscles into your workout.

Back muscles are trickier, because you cant just use your bodyweight to train your back muscles without any equipment. Push-ups require nothing more than going down on your hands, and squats just require you to – well , basically squat. But back exercises require at least a decent pull up bar or some weights. I recommend using light weights first if your bodyweight is too much to handle, a fit person would have difficulty doing a pull up or incline pull up if they had 20kg of excess weight strapped onto themselves – So you shouldn’t be ashamed to use light weights before you progress to heavier weights. Progress from weights to bodyweight and finally if you are hardcore fit, try strapping weights onto yourself to do pull ups or try various pull up styles, varying the grip ect.

Without further ado. Heres some some videos on back training

The higher the bar the easier it is (beginner take note), you would like to space your hands further apart to train your back muscles more (that’s the purpose of the pull up). If you would like to focus on biceps, then i recommend a closer grip. But there’s tons of exercises on bicep, and usually people have weaker back muscles compared to other muscles, so it would be a good idea to bring it up to par.

Chest workout

Chest workouts are quite literally push ups, i recommend that if you find push ups hard, do them with you feet on the ground and with your hands on a platform, then proceed to lower the platform as you get fitter and fitter until you are doing a push on the ground with your knees on the ground. Incline push ups are easy to do. And recommended for beginners.

Progress by lifting your knees off the ground with only your hands and feet contacting the ground as you do a normal push up.

Further progress is also possible if you place your feet on a platform or put some weights on your back (put some weight in a haversack then wear it for added weight to your push up). Vary the distance between your hands (thereby using more triceps if you place your hands closer). Or you can mix push ups with knee tucks, or leg movement ect, there alot of variations. Here is a clip on the Ninja Warriors advanced and kickass push ups. (Reality drama show where people are pit against an impossibly tough and physical obstacle course)

Abdominal wokrout

Finally abdominals… it’s hard to expect wash board abs, abdominals are usually tough to train because they require a low (very low) body fat and not strong bulging abdominal muscles. Don’t believe the TV advertistment promising washboard abs if you buy their ab-flex or ab-perfect machine. If you just use that, then probably you might have slightly stronger muscles which won’t show from the layers of fat covering it.

Its far better to aim for full body fitness with strong chest, back and leg muscles and with a sensible diet, it would be hard for your abs not to show. Remember, ripped abdominals are the result of low body fat and high overall fitness, not huge abdominal muscles.

That being said, there are alot of exercises that cross utilise the abdominals and you can get a 100x more decent calorie burn than if you do a 1000 sit ups a day (1000 sit ups it won’t help much except make your abdominal muscles very resistant to fatigue and cause back pain).

Here are some good exercises to incorporate. Moderate according to fitness level, and simple crunches are good enough if you feel they are too tough (which they are actually).

The good thing about abs is that usually you don’t require any equipment at all, as opposed to back muscles which at least require a pull up bar or some weights (you can make weights by filling up one litre bottles of water or using something heavy that you can find in your home, it doesn’t have to be barbells).

Conclusion – The revolution of the home workout movement is near. Do sensible exercises and ones that challenge your strength level instead of following aerobic tape workouts which are complex and might injure your joints due to the high repetition range and dynamic movements. Splitting your workout into strength training and gentle walking is better for beginners than some fancy jump around aerobic workout and much safer too. Build up strength levels first before attempting anything dynamic and fast paced. It’s not a race to the finish, but it’s always great to tailor your workout to fit yourself, I have provided some tools and it is up to your imagination to modify and adjust it SENSIBLY. Bodyweight workouts are cheap and i might say even more efficient than a gym workout because they use the bio-mechanics of the body instead of constraining it into a big bulky machine that only allows one plane of movement (and probably take up a huge chunk of your salary as well as space in your house, which will make dust mites happy). Train hard – Train smart.

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