Upper and Lower ABS

by Dr M. C. Siff

Introductory Note
For newcomers, these P&Ps are Propositions, not facts or dogmatic proclamations. They are intended to stimulate interaction among users working in different fields, to re-examine traditional concepts, foster distance education, question our beliefs and suggest new lines of research or approaches to training. We look forward to responses from anyone who has views or relevant information on the topics.

Puzzle & Paradox 92
The debate about whether or not it is possible to separately exercise the upper and lower abdominal erector muscles may not have been definitively settled yet.

There is still considerable debate about whether or not it is possible to exercise separately the upper and lower portions of the recti abdominis muscles, especially since the recti constitute a single band of muscle between origin and insertion. Numerous books and fitness professionals refer to crunches and situps for the ‘upper abs’ (with the pivot being the distal rectus attachment on the pelvis), and pelvic curl or leg pushes into the air for the ‘lower abs’ (with the pivot being the proximal rectus attachment on the lowest ribs and spine).

EMG studies show that both the ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ abs show considerable electrical activity during both of these types of exercise, so that some authorities dismiss the idea of separate isolation exercise of the upper and lower abs.

Yet, a TV programme some years ago showed a belly dancer using her highly skilled abdominal musculature to roll a few quarters (US 25c pieces) up, down, diagonally and sideways across the belly. She concluded her unusual display by successfully folding a dollar bill placed on her belly. From this vaudeville display, it would certainly appear that it is possible to activate different parts of the abdominal musculature in skilled sequences. This might then suggest to the skeptic that it may be meaningful to talk about separate exercise of the upper and lower regions of the abs.

Of course, we must note that the effectiveness of most non-explosive exercises depends primarily on the amount of concentrated focus and voluntarily produced goal-directed muscle tension, so that one’s visualization of the exercise would appear to have a profound effect on the pattern of activation of any muscle. This also depends on the patterns of breathing and breath-cessation used during the exercise.

Some authorities state that, since the different regions of the abdominals are separately innervated, one should certainly be able to activate upper and lower regions of the abs separately.

However, in saying that the lower abs are separately innervated we have to be cautious in misapplying this information. All of the rectus abdominis and the obliques are innervated by branches of the thoracic nerves T6 or T7 – T12, as is transversus (by the ventral rami and L1). This would tend to imply that the lower abs and lower obliques(?!) should be activated by stimulation of T6/7 – T8/9 and the upper abs and upper obliques (if these exist!) by the remaining thoracic nerves. In addition, an examination of their nervous innervation would also suggest that there should be separate activation of upper and lower transversus.

This clearly confounds the entire issue of trunk action and situps for the supposedly different parts of the trunk muscles. We can only resolve the issue if we stop talking about upper and lower abs etc and analyze in terms of a graduated activation of all of the trunk muscles progressing from the extreme top to the extreme bottom (as defined by the appropriate nerves) – much in the way that a caterpillar moves.

This would appear to offer a far more accurate and logical biomechanical approach, since the current view of upper vs lower abs would imply that there should be a somewhat jerky discontinuity somewhere during a full crunch. The entire action of trunk flexion is smooth, well-controlled and continuous, so this observation supports my view that there is a smooth continuum of activation of the entire abdominal (and erector spinae) group.

If one wishes to simplify, then it would be crudely accurate to talk of upper, mid and lower abs, but this still tends to mask the fact that there is really a continuum of muscle activation involving all of the trunk muscles, each exhibiting a different level of involvement, depending on the type and pattern of movement.

This means that it is highly unlikely that you will be able to totally isolate the ‘lower abs’, since there is always accompanying involvement of many other stabilizing and mobilizing muscles.

This, of course, has not answered the other issue which we raised earlier. If there is differential innervation of the obliques and transversus, must we then conclude that we should recognize upper and lower portions of these muscles, too? We have to bear in mind, even though essentially the same nerves are involved in activating the abdominal musculature, that different

Does this not imply then that one single exercise should be able to exercise all of the trunk muscles? Another point – if one sits up, then both the absand the obliques have to become involved in flexion, as a consequence of basic biomechanics – but what about transversus which is more strongly activated by coughing and forceful expulsion of air from the lungs (or by initiation of walking)?

Give your views on the concept of upper vs lower exercise of the abdominal musculature, including the obliques. Quote any relevant references or personal findings to corroborate your reply.

Dr Mel C Siff
School of Mechanical Engineering
University of the Witwatersrand
WITS 2050 South Africa

Get the most out of your abdominal workout

There are so many people looking for the secrets to great abs. You see all the hype on TV infomercials. Companies peddling all types of equipment that will help you build rock hard abs and a miraculous mid section. Without spending tons of money or any money at all, I’ll discuss a simple and effective way of building great looking abs. It can be done at home or at your gym.

Now we all want defined, toned abdominal muscles. Mostly to look great. A lot of men strive for a 6 pack or close to it, while most women’s goal is for a tight toned mid section. Let me stress that besides the cosmetic reasons for having great looking adominals, having a firm and toned mid section has many other benefits. You’ll ease any extra stress a belly or extra weight puts on your back, improve your posture, increase your stamina and endurance because you are not carrying any extra weight and improve your self esteem. You’ll feel even better about yourself and what you have accomplished. Anyway, this is pretty basic knowledge, but it is good to reflect on why you want to have solid great looking abs.

To develop solid abs, you need to shed some excess body fat. This is accomplished by eating properly and consuming less calories each day than your body burns.

Secondly, your abdominals must be trained in accordance with proper resistance training. I’ll discuss Ab Crunches as an effective exercise to build your abs.

Ab crunches can be performed anywhere:

Starting Position:
Place your hands crossed on your chest and lie flat on the floor with your knees bent. By bending your knees you’re providing your lower back with support. You can also place your hands behind your head if you prefer, but this position often leads to poor posture and unnecessary strain on your neck. In other words, you also end up cheating by lifting yourself using your arms and neck rather than your abs.

Performing the Exercise:
Slowly raise yourself using your abs, with your lower back always pressed against the floor. Raising your lower back will put unnecessary stress on your back. There are many exercises specifically for your lower back and remember, the abdominals create the exercise. Following the same method, slowly lower yourself.

Try 4 sets of 24 with a short rest in between. The great thing about abs is that they can be exercised every second day or on consecutive days depending on your time and workout schedule.

Try the same procedure by raising your legs or when you want to work on your obliques. Most people forget about working the oblique muscles (your side stomach muscles). Lie on the floor the same way as for regular crunches and cross your legs over to begin the exercise. If this feels uncomfortable or difficult, you may want to try the exercise standing up.With a reasonable weight in one hand, slowly lower one side and then return to the starting position. Repeat the procedure on your other side.

These are just a few of the many ab exercises that you can perform almost anywhere.

Pilates vs. Yoga

by Kathy Smith

When people speak of the physical benefits of exercise, they tend to focus on the three S’s: strength, stamina and slimming. With this in mind, their training programs usually consist of weight lifting to build muscle, with some form of aerobic activity to build cardiovascular endurance and burn calories. But there’s a second tier of benefits we’re starting to value. These include flexibility, coordination, posture and stress relief.

It’s not that these secondary benefits weren’t always important — it’s just that they’re more in the spotlight these days thanks to the growing popularity of so-called “softer” training modalities. Two of the most popular of these are yoga and Pilates.

Yoga, of course, has been popular in the U.S. for decades. I started practicing yoga more than 20 years ago and it’s still one of my favorite ways to tone my body and calm my mind. Pilates though is a newer trend that apparently still has many people baffled. I often get letters inquiring about the difference between Pilates and yoga and asking which I recommend. As with most “which do I recommend” questions, the answer depends on your physical goals. Simply put, the difference between yoga and Pilates is that between East and West. Both systems build strength and flexibility; the difference between them is not so much physical as it is philosophical.

A Tale of Two Workouts

Let’s take yoga first. Yoga is based on the Eastern idea of moving energy through your body. The more freely the energy flows, the healthier and more energetic you feel. Physical tension hinders the flow; over time, areas of tension in your body can become tight and rigid, even painful. The goal of yoga is to keep the body supple through movement and stretching. But there’s another dimension. Yoga is a holistic spiritual discipline with its roots in Eastern forms of meditation. The physical postures, although they condition the body, are really aimed at the mind. They symbolize the goal of living your life in a state of balance and composure. When I spend an hour in a yoga class, I melt into a kind of meditative state and emerge wonderfully relaxed and refreshed.

Pilates on the other hand is physical conditioning first and foremost — and there’s nothing quite like it. Its creator, Joseph Pilates, was looking for a way to rehabilitate injured soldiers after World War I. He developed an assortment of curious machines with names like the “Reformer” and the “Cadillac.” Using cables and trolleys and unusual body positioning, Pilates exercises stretch and strengthen and are unique in their ability to encourage coordination between the muscles that stabilize the body.

Pilates techniques quickly became a hit with dancers, who found them a highly effective way to improve body awareness and alignment and promote graceful, fluid motion. Machine-based Pilates actually has more in common with weight training than with yoga since it involves moving against resistance (provided by springs) with the aim of overloading the muscles. In particular it resembles functional strength exercises such as squats or cable pulls. There’s also a new form of Pilates, the Pilates mat class, which relies more on callisthenic-style exercises and stretches. This form is physically more similar to a yoga class though the emphasis is still on physical change rather than on spiritual development through postures and breathing.

The Choice Is Yours

Generally speaking, I think it’s fair to say yoga is more about how it makes you feel while Pilates is about how you look — how you carry yourself and move. So if you’re looking for a limbering, rejuvenating workout that will provide as much of a lift for your brain as your body — and you’re not too concerned about building muscle –I’d recommend yoga. If you’re interested in a more dynamic system of muscle conditioning — or if you just want to try something new and different — Pilates may be the answer.

In fact, it doesn’t have to be an either-or choice. After all, no single training system can give your body all the types of conditioning it needs. That’s why my week includes a variety of activities, from weight lifting to hiking, running, yoga and more. My best recommendation is to try everything — experience it all — and see what works best for you. East or West, the important thing is to explore!

Forget the fat burn zone

“Fat burn is greater when exercise intensity is high.” Izumi Tabata

I believe in high-intensity aerobics. In Ripped 3, for bodybuilders, I recommended “a variety of relatively short and infrequent aerobic sessions interspersed with explosive muscular effort.” In Lean For Life, published six years later, I emphasized high-intensity aerobics even more; I reduced the frequency of aerobic sessions to two times a week (in Ripped 3 I recommended up to four) and substantially increased the intensity. But it wasn’t until recently, when my friend Richard Winett, Ph.D., publisher of Master Trainer, called my attention to new research findings, that I came to fully appreciate the superiority of high intensity aerobics compared to the usual prescription that heart rate be maintained between 60% and 80% of maximum.

As explained in the nearby FAQ (Low intensity aerobics?), high intensity aerobics burns the same amount of fat as low intensity, but the expenditure of calories is substantially greater; plus, intense aerobics produces a higher level of fitness. Importantly, the more fit you become, the more likely you are to use fat as fuel for any given activity. And now, research in Japan and in Canada shows that short, very intense aerobic sessions are amazingly effective for both fitness and fat loss.

Maximal oxygen uptake, or V02max, is generally regarded as the best single measure of aerobic fitness. As the rate of exercise increases, your body eventually reaches a limit for oxygen consumption. This limit is the peak of your aerobic capacity, or your V02max. As intensity increases beyond V02max, your body must shift to anaerobic (without oxygen) energy production. An oxygen debt begins to build at this point and blood lactate levels climb. In general terms, one’s ability to continue exercising in the face of rising oxygen deficit and lactate levels is called anaerobic capacity.

This is important because many high-intensity sports (including basketball, football, soccer and speed skating) require a high level of both aerobic and anaerobic fitness. Clearly, total fitness involves both high V02max and high anaerobic capacity. A training protocol that develops both would be a godsend.

Izumi Tabata and his colleagues at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo, Japan, compared the effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on V02max and anaerobic capacity. (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise (1996) 28, 1327-1330). Interestingly, the high-intensity protocol had been used by major members of the Japanese Speed Skating team for several years; it’s a real-world training plan. As you will see, however, the protocol is unique among aerobic training programs for its intensity and brevity.

Many studies have been done on the effect of training on V02max, but little information has been available about the effect on anaerobic capacity. That’s because until recently methods for measuring anaerobic capacity have been inadequate. This study used accumulated oxygen deficit to measure anaerobic energy release, and is one of the first to measure the effect of training on both aerobic and anaerobic capacity.

Notice that the duration of the moderate-intensity and the high-intensity protocols are drastically different: (excluding warm-ups) one hour compared to only about 4 minutes per training schedule

Tabata’s moderate-intensity protocol will sound familiar; it’s the same steady-state aerobic training done by many (perhaps most) fitness enthusiasts.

Here are the details (stay with me on this): In the moderate-intensity group, seven active young male physical education majors exercised on stationary bicycles 5 days per week for 6 weeks at 70% of V02max, 60 minutes each session. V02max was measured before and after the training and every week during the 6 week period. As each subject’s V02max improved, exercise intensity was increased to keep them pedaling at 70% of their actual V02max. Maximal accumulated oxygen deficit was also measured, before, at 4 weeks and after the training.

A second group followed a high-intensity interval program. Seven students, also young and physically active, exercised five days per week using a training program similar to the Japanese speed skaters. After a 10-minute warm-up, the subjects did seven to eight sets of 20 seconds at 170% of V02max, with a 10 second rest between each bout. Pedaling speed was 90-rpm and sets were terminated when rpms dropped below 85. When subjects could complete more than 9 sets, exercise intensity was increased by 11 watts. The training protocol was altered one day per week. On that day, the students exercised for 30 minutes at 70% of V02max before doing 4 sets of 20 second intervals at 170% of V02max. This latter session was not continued to exhaustion. Again, V02max and anaerobic capacity was determined before, during and after the training.

In some respects the results were no surprise, but in others they may be ground breaking. The moderate-intensity endurance training program produced a significant increase in V02max (about 10%), but had no effect on anaerobic capacity. The high-intensity intermittent protocol improved V02max by about 14%; anaerobic capacity increased by a whopping 28%.

Dr. Tabata and his colleagues believe this is the first study to demonstrate an increase in both aerobic and anaerobic power. What’s more, in an e-mail response to Dick Winett, Dr. Tabata said, “The fact is that the rate of increase in V02max [14% for the high-intensity protocol – in only 6 weeks] is one of the highest ever reported in exercise science.” (Note, the students participating in this study were members of varsity table tennis, baseball, basketball, soccer and swimming teams and already had relatively high aerobic capacities.)

The results, of course, confirm the well-known fact that the results of training are specific. The intensity in the first protocol (70% of V02max) did not stress anaerobic components (lactate production and oxygen debt) and, therefore, it was predictable that anaerobic capacity would be unchanged. On the other hand, the subjects in the high-intensity group exercised to exhaustion ,and peak blood lactate levels indicated that anaerobic metabolism was being taxed to the max. So, it was probably also no big surprise that anaerobic capacity increased quite significantly.

What probably was a surprise, however, is that a 4 minute training program of very-hard 20 second repeats, in the words of the researchers, “may be optimal with respect to improving both the aerobic and the anaerobic energy release systems.” That’s something to write home about!

What About Fat Loss?

Angelo Tremblay, Ph.D., and his colleagues at the Physical Activities Sciences Laboratory, Laval University, Quebec, Canada, challenged the common belief among health professionals that low-intensity, long-duration exercise is the best program for fat loss. They compared the impact of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise and high-intensity aerobics on fat loss. (Metabolism (1994) Volume 43, pp.814-818)

The Canadian scientists divided 27 inactive, healthy, non-obese adults (13 men, 14 women, 18 to 32 years old) into two groups. They subjected one group to a 20-week endurance training (ET) program of uninterrupted cycling 4 or 5 times a week for 30 to 45 minutes; the intensity level began at 60% of heart rate reserve and progressed to 85%. (For a 30-year-old, this would mean starting at a heart rate of about 136 and progressing to roughly 170 bpm, which is more intense than usually prescribed for weight or fat loss.)

The other group did a 15-week program including mainly high-intensity-interval training (HIIT). Much like the ET group, they began with 30-minute sessions of continuous exercise at 70% of maximum heart rate reserve (remember, they were not accustomed to exercise), but soon progressed to 10 to 15 bouts of short (15 seconds progressing to 30 seconds) or 4 to 5 long (60 seconds progressing to 90 seconds) intervals separated by recovery periods allowing heart rate to return to 120-130 beats per minute. The intensity of the short intervals was initially fixed at 60% of the maximal work output in 10 seconds, and that of the long bouts corresponded to 70% of the individual maximum work output in 90 seconds. Intensity on both was increased 5% every three weeks.

As you might expect, the total energy cost of the ET program was substantially greater than the HIIT program. The researchers calculated that the ET group burned more than twice as many calories while exercising than the HIIT program. But (surprise, surprise) skinfold measurements showed that the HIIT group lost more subcutaneous fat. “Moreover,” reported the researchers, “when the difference in the total energy cost of the program was taken into account…, the subcutaneous fat loss was ninefold greater in the HIIT program than in the ET program.” In short, the HIIT group got 9 times more fat-loss benefit for every calorie burned exercising.

How can that be?

Cardiovascular Exercise Principles and Guidelines: Part One

For maximum effectiveness and safety, cardiovascular exercise has specific instructions on the frequency, duration, and intensity. These are the three important components of cardiovascular exercise that you really need to understand and implement in your program. In addition, your cardiovascular program should include a warm-up, a cool-down, and stretching of the primary muscles used in the exercise. This article is part one of a two part series discussing the very important principles and guidelines of a safe and effective cardiovascular exercise program. Part one will explain the proper methods of warming-up, stretching, and cooling-down and discuss the frequency and duration of a sound cardiovascular routine. Part two will discuss how to monitor exercise intensity and heart zone training.

Warming Up and Stretching
One very common mistake is stretching before muscles are warmed-up. It is important to stretch after your muscles are warm (after blood has circulated through them). Never stretch a cold muscle. First warm up. A warm-up should be done for at least 5-10 minutes at a low intensity. Usually, the warm-up is done by doing the same activity as the cardiovascular workout but at an intensity of 50-60% of maximum heart rate (max HR). After you’ve warmed-up for 5-10 minutes at a relatively low intensity, your muscles should be warm. To prevent injury and to improve your performance, you should stretch the primary muscles used in the warm up before proceeding to the cardiovascular exercise.

Cooling Down

The cool down is similar to the warm-up in that it should last 5-10 minutes and be done at a low intensity (50-60% of max HR). After you have completed your cardiovascular exercise and cooled-down properly, it is now important that you stretch the primary muscles being used. Warming-up, stretching, and cooling-down are very important to every exercise session. They not only help your performance levels and produce better results, they also drastically decrease your risk of injury.

Frequency of Exercise
The first component of cardiovascular exercise is frequency of the exercise, which refers to the number of exercise sessions per week. To improve both cardiovascular fitness and to decrease body fat or maintain body fat at optimum levels, you should exercise (cardiovascularly) at least three days a week. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends three to five days a week for most cardiovascular programs. Those of you who are very out of shape and/or who are overweight and doing weight-bearing cardiovascular exercise such as an aerobics class or jogging, might want to have at least 36 to 48 hours of rest between workouts to prevent an injury and to promote adequate bone and joint stress recovery.

Duration of Exercise
The second component of cardiovascular exercise is the duration, which refers to the time you’ve spent exercising. The cardiovascular session, not including the warm-up and cool-down, should vary from 20-60 minutes to gain significant cardiorespiratory and fat burning-benefits. Each time you do your cardiovascular exercise, try to do at least 20 minutes or more. Of course, the longer you go, the more calories and fat you’ll “burn” and the better you’ll condition your cardiovascular system. All beginners, especially those who are out of shape, should take a very conservative approach and train at relatively low intensities (50-70% max HR) for 10-25 minutes. As you get in better shape, you can gradually increase the duration of time you exercise.

It is important that you gradually increase the duration before you increase the intensity. That is, when beginning a walking program for example, be more concerned with increasing the number of minutes of the exercise session before you increase the intensity, by increasing your speed or by walking hilly terrain.

Please check back for Part Two, where I’ll discuss how to monitor your training intensity and how to use heart zone training to achieve the specific results you desire. Until then, remember that cardiovascular exercise should be done a minimum of three times a week and a minimum of 20 minutes per session. Once your muscles are warm (after warm up) and after the cardiovascular exercise, you should stretch those muscles used in the exercise. For example, after bicycling, stretch your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, hips, and low back. After doing the rowing machine, stretch your legs, back, biceps, and shoulders. Good luck and enjoy all the wonderful benefits of cardiovascular exercise.

Which Pilates is Which

Authentic Pilates

The Pilates Guild is dedicated to the preservation of Pilates in it’s purest
form the way it was taught by Joseph himself.

Contemporary Pilates

While Pilates was undoubtedly a man ahead of his time, the science of exercise has evolved
throughout subsequent decades. Contemporary adaptations of Pilates’ principles
have emerged, leveraging advances in physical therapy, spinal research,
biomechanical principles and anatomical understanding to ensure each exercise is
performed with optimal safety and results in mind” – quote from Prime Time
for Pilates by Moira Stott-Merrithew with Catherine Komlodi and Alison Hope.
Modern Pilates

Unlike the traditional method, which focuses on constantly holding in the lower abdomen and
on extremely effortful movements, modern Pilates is firmly based on the
functional movement possibilities of the body. The exercises in this book are
influenced by developments in therapeutic massage, osteopathy, and the
Feldenkrais method, Butoh (a Japanese performance art developed in the 1950s),
and ante- and postnatal work. With easy-to-understand diagrams, drawings, and
photos, it provides exercises for maintaining good posture, fitness, strength,
grace, flexibility, and freedom from injury” – quote from the Publishers of
Modern Pilates by Penelope Latey.
The differences:

In the book Return to Life through Contrology, (edited, reformatted and reprinted by Presentation Dynamics Inc): Joseph wrote the following; and in italics modern or contemporary Pilates suggests:

Open Leg Rocker: “Roll” over backward trying to touch mat or floor with toes -roll over only onto the top of the shoulders your head should never touch the mat.

Many exercises suggest that knees should be ‘locked’ – not locked

Double Kick: Thrust chest out with head thrown back as far as possible… – a long neck, centered and held steady

About the spine: “be sure wherever indicated, to keep your back full length always pressed firmly against the mat or floor” – respect the natural curves of your spine.

The Seal: “press soles and heels firmly close together pointed inward”
– heels together, attracting ankles together.

Maybe these examples don’t sound so different, not different enough to matter anyway. But there are differences and that’s something to remember – you decide which you prefer.
Yogalates: A fusion of the ancient discipline of yoga with the modern Pilates techniques, the exercises mix both disciplines to develop core strength, help tone muscles, increase flexibility and reduce
stress. Yogalates is trademarked by Louise Solomon.

“Expand your Self, move gently and celebrate the many possibilities which the union of Yoga and Pilates will reveal. Through the comparison of breath, core strength and inner spirit, discover new sensations through familiar movement. Awaken your self, enliven your lines and brighten your Yoga/Pilates experience. – the pilatescenter.com

Yogilates: (book) Integrating Yoga and Pilates for Complete Fitness, Strength and Flexibility by Jonathan Urla
The Pilates Method / The Method: a name coined first by The Physical Mind Institute in Santa Fe (they have subsequently moved to New York) to represent the traditional Pilates exercises when the law suit was ongoing and the “P” word couldn’t be used.

Pilates with Chi: (book) combining Pilates with the eastern influences of Chi

PowerHouse Pilates ™: provides a fitness approach to Pilates education, founded by Marci Clark and Christine Romani-Ruby in an effort to make Pilates education easily available for fitness professionals.

Also a book by Lynne Robinson “Body Control 5 – Powerhouse Pilates with Lynne Robinson” and Mari Winsor “The Pilates Powerhouse”

For a leaner stomach, exercise and get good nutrition

How do I get a lean stomach?
Best results are exercise, and menu planning for nutritional benefits. Each person is different, and needs a specialized plan to eat certain foods, especially for allergies.

Exercise should include abdominal muscle strengthening: contracting your stomach muscles for strong “abs,” and optimal pelvic area for circulation. This is called the abdominal crunch. To accomplish this, lie down in a horizontal position, bend your knees, and place your feet flat on the floor. Roll your upper body forward, contract your stomach muscles, and release after holding for a count of 15 or 20, then let go. Repeat as many times as possible, being sure not to push hard beyond your ability. Start slowly and steadily build up. Make this a daily routine.

Lift your shoulder blades off the ground, hold the pose, contract your stomach mus cles and lower yourself slowly. Repeat this three or four times, gradually building up. Most exercises need to be done every other day for the rest of your life.

Get a bicycle with a comfortable, padded seat and start moving your legs vigorously.

Ride around our beautiful island and take note of the beautiful scenery as you are increase your circulation. For beginners, take it slowly to start and you will reap your rewards. It is advisable to consult with your doctor before embarking on any exercise program.

Ask your nutritionist about high energy foods that will help you build muscles and strength. Remember, it takes work, time and your patience for as much as several months to achieve optimum results.

A mans workout

If you’re a regular Aussie bloke looking to get in shape, we’ve got good news.

When it comes to shifting fat and gaining muscle, it seems men have won the lottery. Thanks to their physiological make-up, men (the lucky buggers) can do both quicker and with less effort than women.
This is largely due to the fact that women tend to store fat on their hips and thighs, while men more commonly put it on their middles.
A little padding around the butt and thigh area might not be the stuff dreams are made of, but it’s entirely natural. Women are designed (physically speaking) to bear children and that means they need to store a little excess fat to support a child if needed. Men have no physiological need to store excess fat. Accordingly they are able to shed it easier.
“It’s a scientific fact that a beer belly is easier to get rid of than thigh or bottom fat,” says Professor Stephan Rossner, director of the Obesity Research Program at Luddinge Hospital, Stockholm.
“A beer belly is easier to mobilise and responds more quickly. Women don’t have the ability to shift weight like men do. That’s just the way it is.”

thinking it through
Studies have also shown that men are one step ahead of women when it comes to sticking with a diet or exercise program. Why? Because once they decide to shed fat and gain muscle, they do it.
There’s also the fact that men have often been raised on exercise.
“Men are encouraged to get involved in sport when they’re young,” says Katy Try, head trainer at Golds Gym in Sydney.
“If people exercise when young it’s much easier to reactivate that when older. If you have had no exercise history it’s harder to get started.”
Unfortunately it seems that many Australian men (women too, but we’re not focusing on them today) are finding it very hard to get started. At this point in time about 65 per cent of men (and yes, 55 per cent of women) are considered overweight. If you’re a bloke, and you’re part of that group and would like not to be, don’t panic – there are ways and means. As we said earlier, being a man means losing weight and gaining muscle shouldn’t be that hard for you. If it does get tough you can comfort yourself with this thought – it’s harder for women!

making a move
Of course, even men need to do it right. That means watching what you eat and getting plenty of exercise. By exercise we mean cardiovascular workouts (think walking, jogging or playing footy) and resistance training such as lifting weights. If you can, you should get some cardiovascular exercise every day. Weights can be performed anywhere from three to five times a week.
But don’t get too caught up with exactly how much weight you’re lifting, says Try.
“Correct technique helps build the muscle, not just the actual weight,” she says. And for those blokes who worry only about the “mirror muscles” it’s time to rethink your workout. Your exercises should be more balanced. “Many men tend to worry about the muscles they can see and forget about the others, but that’s not a good idea,” says Try.
Kelly Baker is a fully qualified personal trainer.
hey fellas

10 reasons why men should be working out

  1. It will help lower your blood pressure.
  2. It will decrease your chances of coronary heart disease.
  3. Your energy levels will go through the roof.
  4. You can greatly ease lower back pain.
  5. Your body will be a lean, mean fighting machine (or closer to it anyway).
  6. Stress levels will drop.
  7. You’ll lose fat.
  8. You’ll build strong bones.
  9. You will rev up your metabolism, meaning you can get away with eating more.
  10. It’s fun. Really.


  1. Dumb-bell shoulder press.
    Hold a dumb-bell in each hand and sit on a fitball or bench. Plant your feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart. Once you’re comfortable, push your weights up over your head until they almost touch. Slowly lower to about ear level and then repeat. Ensure you don’t lock your elbows at the top of this movement and keep steady. Form counts! 
    Gives you: sensational shoulders.
  2. Triceps kickback 
    Rest your left lower leg on a weight bench. Grasp a dumb-bell in your right hand. Lean forward at the hips and place your left palm on the bench. Bend your right elbow so your upper arm is parallel to the floor, palm facing in. Straighten your arm out behind you. Slowly return to the starting position and then repeat. Don’t forget your left arm! 
    Gives you: buff backs of arms
  3. One-arm dumb-bell row 
    Stand with your right lower leg resting on a weight bench. Grasp a dumb-bell in your left hand. Lean forward at the hips and place your right palm on the bench. Drop your left hand down. Then pull your left arm up until your upper arm is parallel to the floor and your dumb-bell is near your waist. Gently lower and repeat. Both arms please!
    Gives you: Gorgeous upper back.
  4. Dumb-bell chest
    Press Lie on the bench with your feet flat. Push your weights up so that your arms are directly above your shoulders. Lower the dumb-bells until your elbows are just below your shoulders. Then, push the weights back up. Move with control and don’t allow your elbows to lock or your shoulder blades to come off the bench. 
    Gives you: an amazing chest.
  5. Ball crunch 
    To get in position, rest your back (all the way from shoulder blades to tail bone) on the round curve of the ball. Ensure your head, neck and also shoulders are above the ball. Your knees should be bent and feet flat on the floor, roughly hip-width apart. Once you’re ready to get going, cross your hands across your chest. Then, curl up and forward. Hold for a second at the top of the movement and then gently lower. 
    Gives you: killer abs.