A survey recently named excess belly fat as the UK’s biggest body hang-up (or hang-over?). So the most logical way to beat the bulge it is to jump on the Swiss-Ball and crack out 100 sit ups a day, right?
Wrong, according to Gareth Cole, head of education at the Third Space gym in London’s Soho. He says by focusing too hard on the ‘core’ muscles, people neglect other important muscle groups integral for fitness and health.
Another fitness expert, Jean-Claude Vacassin, agrees. He says: “There is a place for sit-ups but not for people who spend a lot of time hunched over a desk. If your lower back is often rounded – spinal flexion – you don’t want to create more flexion. To say it is all about core training is like looking at the world through a straw.”
Millions of people in the UK spend all day shackled to their office desks, often hunched over their screens. This only increases the likelihood of injury when they do finally get a chance to exercise.
Although spending 15 minutes in the morning doing sit ups may seem like a good idea, doing isolated exercises can lead to back problems caused by damaged spinal discs.
Sports rehabilitator Christnoel Buhay believes men are more likely to get obsessed about the abs because they tend to only train the muscles they can see. A man’s typical training session focusses on the chest and biceps, whereas he should be looking to open up his posture by strengthening the lower back instead.
So what exercise should we be doing to fight the flab? Gareth Cole suggests trying something called the ‘Plank Matrix’:
Start in the basic plank position, then roll onto your side and lift each of your legs into the air in turn. This will strengthen the muscles around the spine and improve your posture.
Other recommended exercises include lunges, squats, push-ups and dead-lifts.
So the moral of the story? Vary your workout – try not to focus too much on just one area because this could lead to injury.
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View and comment on the original London Evening Standard article.