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Ask A Question

Would you like to ask a question about abs or ab training, general fitness, weight loss, or any other aspect of exercise, fitness and health? Well you can here and I'll do my best to get you an accurate answer.

As a certified personal trainer with 25 years experience and a graduate degree in Kinesiology, hopefully I'll have an answer for you. If I don't, I'll try and point you in the right direction to find the answer.

I'll do my best to get you an answer as quickly as possible. Feel free to comment on my answers and add any helpful information you might have.

Questions Other People Have Asked

How Do I Lose Baby Weight From My Belly?

by Lisa

QUESTION: Is it possible to lose the fat in the lower part of my stomach after having a 3rd child. What exercises work the best?

ANSWER: Yes, it is possible to lose the fat in your lower abs. The best exercises to target that area can be found in my

Lower Stomach Flattening Exercises and Lower Ab Workout for Beginners. There are also additional more challenging lower ab workouts you'll find there as you build more ab strength.

HOWEVER, doing ab exercises that target that area is just part of what is required. Unfortunately, exercising a specific area of the body will not directly result in fat loss in the area you are targeting. That is know as "Spot Reducing", and it's a myth that's been around a long time. So doing lower ab exercises will tone your ab muscles and strengthen your core (which is important and a worthy goal), but won't directly burn the fat there.

The way to lose fat in your lower abs is the same way you lose fat in any area: consuming fewer calories than you're burning. Most everyone knows this, but making it happen is the challenge. Consistently burning more calories than you're consuming will cause you to lose fat from all over your body, with the majority coming from the areas that have the most to lose.

Here are the key components of how to lose that baby weight from your belly:

DIET

Diet is the real key to fat loss. There is almost no amount of exercise that can make up for bad eating habits. The best way is to eat a healthy, low-calorie diet spread out over 5-6 meal/snacks per day. Try to include protein in every meal/snack. It helps build muscle, keeps you feeling full for a longer period of time, and takes more calories to digest, thus lowering it's true caloric cost. Be sure and limit refined carbs, saturated fats, trans fat, and high fructose corn syrup.

STRENGTH TRAINING

Building muscle is another key component of burning belly fat. Muscle is a fat burner, all day. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism. It doesn't have to be bulky, body-builder type muscle. You can build lean toned muscle without bulk. Focus on whole body strength training (functional training), which targets your large muscle groups-- your legs, chest, back, and shoulders this is the best way to build muscle. Your goal is to use exercises that hit as many different muscles and joints at the same time as possible.

CARDIO/INTERVAL TRAINING

For additional calorie burning, you should be doing cardio training 3-5 days per week. You should split it between interval training and traditional slow cardio. Interval training is when you alternate between periods of high intensity exercise and low intensity exercise. You can vary the intensities and rest intervals in different combinations depending on your condition. Interval training can be done using any mode you would do traditional cardio: running, walking, biking, swimming, stair master, or elliptical machine

With a combination of ab training, proper diet, strength training, and cardio/interval training, you can lose the baby weight from your belly. It sounds like a lot and it won't be easy, but just do the best you can and stick with it! Your hard work will pay off in the end.

Good Luck

Bill

Best Diet For Weight Loss

by Chrissy Slavey 

(Kentucky)

QUESTION: I am wanting to lose 20 pound by June of this year. I was wondering if you had suggestions on a good diet that I could go on. What is the best diet for weight loss? I am really wanting to do this, but I need a little guidance and some encouragement. I have tried dieting before but failed. I do not want to fail this time.

ANSWER: Chrissy, If you lost a pound a week between now and the end of June, you would reach your goal. Losing 1-2 pounds a week is the healthy way to do it. You can do that.

There are a number of ways you can go about reaching your goal. 

The first question you need to ask when evaluating any diet is, can I eat this way the rest of my life? The best diet for weight loss results in you adapting healthy eating habits that you can continue forever. Many diets use extreme measures and eating choices that may work temporarily, but are not a way of eating that you can use for any extended period. As soon as you go off the "diet" you regain the weight. 

There are many ways you can go. I recommend the Abs Diet for Women(or Men) by David Zinczenko for many of my clients. Weight Watchers is another plan that works for a lot of people. Just counting calories and limiting yourself to 1200-1400 calories a day can be effective.

Here are the principles of effective dieting no matter what specific plan you're using:

  • Eat 4-5 small to medium meals/snacks a day, evenly spaced throughout the day. Avoid going long periods without eating.
  • Limit carb intake, especially white refined carbs: white bread, pasta, potatoes, white rice, etc. 
  • Avoid refined foods, saturated fats, trans fat, sugar, and high fructose corn syrup.
  • Focus on high fiber (fruits/vegetables), high protein foods as the basis of your diet. Try to include some lean protein with every meal/snack. Poultry, fish, lean cuts of beef, egg whites, whey protein powder, soy, and low fat dairy products are all good sources of lean protein.
  • Allow yourself one cheat meal a week where you eat anything you want. It will keep you from feeling so deprived of foods you like.

Exercise is a critical part of any weight loss plan. Using cardio interval training and functional strength training is the best way to build lean (not bulky) muscle. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism and fat burning capacity will be. Check out my How To Lose Love Handles page. I go into more detail about how the combination of healthy diet, interval training, and strength training is the most effective way to lose fat and build lean muscle. That's what you want. It's not just about losing weight on a scale. It's about developing a healthy body composition (low body fat/high lean muscle mass).

I hope that helps.

Get started today. Focus on your goal and stick to it. 

If you screw up (which everyone does) get right back to healthy eating. The greatest feat is not never falling, it's getting back up after falling.

Take it slow and steady and you'll get there.

You can do it!

Let me know about your progress.

Good Luck

Bill

Loose Skin After Losing Weight

by Jacob Z. 

(Monroe, Michigan, USA)

QUESTION: 

Well, about 1 1/2 years ago I was overweight. Being 15 years old I was at 236 lbs. I now train everyday (cardio, weight lifting, etc) and I actually started boxing as well. I'm now 6' tall and down to 175 lbs. But here's the problem... I have quite a bit of excess skin in my abdominal area. How do I get rid of the loose skin after losing weight? From the hanging bag at the bottom, nearly all the way up to my chest. Do you have any idea how I can at least reduce this extra skin?

-Thanks, Jacob Z.

ANSWER:

First, let me congratulate you, Jacob, on your successful weight loss. Good job! 

Getting rid of loose skin after losing weight is a common concern and a difficult problem to deal with. Over time you should see some improvements in your skin's elasticity, thus reducing the looseness of your skin. Unfortunately, you may not think it's enough and then surgery becomes the only way to remove the excess skin.

There are steps you can take to improve the elasticity of your skin and reduce the looseness.

The factors that affect your skin's elasticity are: 

(1) Age. Young skin is more elastic than older skin. That's good for you.

(2) Genes. You can't change this, but your genes control how firm your skin is as you age.

(3) Smoking. Hopefully you don't smoke. Smoking ages your skin badly.

(4) Sun Exposure. Too much sun exposure damages your skin.

(5) Diet. Eating a balanced, healthy diet with vitamins and minerals (especially Vitamins C & E) will help you maintain healthy skin.

(6 ) Water. Make sure you drink enough water to stay hydrated.

So make sure you avoid smoking and the sun, while eating healthy and staying hydrated. Keep working out hard and building muscle. By continuing to add muscle you can improve how the skin looks, and may be able to reduce some sagging. If you are doing all of these things, you know you are doing everything possible, short of surgery, to reduce your loose skin.

One of the best things you have going for you (aside from your work ethic and dedication) is your age. Give it some time. Your body will continue to change as you get into your 20's. If at that point you're still not satisfied, you could consider surgery. In the meantime, you may be surprised how time, a healthy lifestyle, and hard work can pay off and greatly reduce your loose skin problem.

Good Luck

Bill 

Will I Get Heart Disease?

by Katy 

(Lancaster )


QUESTION: I'm a 13 year old girl. I weigh 140 pounds and I am 4'10". Heart disease doesn't run in my family but my grandmother had it. Will I get heart disease?


ANSWER: While genetics can play a role in heart disease, how you live your life and your lifestyle choices play an even bigger role. Fortunately you are young enough that you can start and maintain healthy habits throughout your life... if you want. That, plus future medical advances, can make the odds of you ever getting heart disease, very small.


The American Heart Association suggests that a healthy diet is one of the greatest weapons against heart disease. You should really focus on eating right. Here are some other suggestions for a heart-healthy lifestyle:


-aim for a healthy weight. 

-be physically active every day. 

-limit consumption of alcohol 

-lower high blood pressure. 

-manage diabetes. 

-reduce blood cholesterol. 

-reduce stress in your life. 

-don't smoke.


Katy, if you're able to maintain as many of the suggestions above, you'll not only be able to practically eliminate your risk of heart disease, you'll greatly reduce your risk for other diseases such as cancer.


Do your best and live a long and healthy life!

Should I Use Steroids to Get A Six Pack?

by Amanda 

(USA)


QUESTIONS: If a woman takes steroids what are the risks? I know steroids work fast and you will see results for a fact.. I really wanna do it and have a six pack and look in good shape.. I was just thinking about taking it until my six pack showed and stop taking them after and exercise the right way after I get my results. Because I don't want to look manly.. Please help??


ANSWER: Hi Amanda


Steroids are a bad idea. Besides being illegal to have without a prescription, there are many bad side effects that will negatively affect your health. It's not worth it. Here's an article that explains the many dangers involved for women: Women and Steroids


You can get a six pack naturally and not have to worry about looking manly. It takes a lot of hard work, but most things that are worthwhile take a lot of effort.


There are two keys to getting a six pack are low body fat and ab development. Getting lean enough for the muscles to show is the toughest part and the most critical. No matter how pumped your abs are, if there is too much body fat covering them, you won't have a six pack. For women, you're body fat needs to be in the 15% range for your abs to show. So how you eat and getting lean will most determine how ripped your abs are. 


As far as your ab workouts go, check out the ab exercises in the video on this page- Best Ab Workout


Rather than doing a lot of crunches, zero in on ab stability exercises (plank, side plank, ab wheel, etc.)


Focus on them along with doing multi-joint, whole body strength training, also know as functional training, (push ups-squats-pull ups-lunges-dips, etc.), and doing high intensity interval training.


Work hard, stick with it, and you can achieve your goals


Good Luck


Bill

What's The Best Way To Tone and Define My Thighs?

QUESTION: I am a soccer player so I kind of have bigger thighs. I run quite a bit but not a ton because I am a goalie. I just was curious how to tone my legs and make then more defined but smaller because I am constantly active. I have found a few exercises for the inner thighs but I don't really know what to do.


Answer: The best way to tone and define your thighs overall, without making them bigger, is doing body weight exercises. The two that I would suggest are: Squats and Lunges.


You can see how to do Lunges here--


How To Do Lunges


Doing 1-2 sets, 12-15 reps, 3 times a week will really improve your leg muscle tone. You can prevent increasing your muscle size by avoiding heavy resistance exercises and doing an excessive amount of sets ( > 4-5 sets)


If there is fat on your thighs, you can lose that like you lose any fat on your body-- consume fewer calories than you're burning. Losing fat on your thighs will make them smaller. Unfortunately, specifically working your legs won't burn fat on your legs. Spot reducing doesn't work.


In addition to these exercises, most aerobic exercises will help tone your legs. Running, Biking, Elliptical, and especially the Stair Master really work the thigh muscles. The running you do during soccer practice should help too.


For your inner thighs, place a ball between your knees while lying on your back. Squeeze and Hold for 5 seconds (8-10) times. This will help tone your inner thighs. 


Good Luck

How Do I Get Flat Abs?

by Cathy


QUESTION: How do I get flat abs? What is the best exercise to get flat abs? I had a baby 2 years ago and I kept wearing a girdle after the birth. Now my stomach is flabby. Is it possible to firm it up or is it to late?


ANSWER It's never too late to get flat abs, Cathy. A flabby stomach is usually a combination of too much fat and poorly conditioned ab muscles. Unfortunately, ab exercises won't directly get rid of your ab fat. Spot reducing doesn't work. Belly fat can only be eliminated by consuming fewer calories than you're burning. 


To lose your belly fat and get flat abs you must:


--Eat a healthy, low calorie diet. Weight loss is 90% diet. If you don’t get this right, it won’t matter how much exercise you’re doing.


--Do cardio training, especially interval training. Interval training triggers the body to release adrenaline, a hormone that tells the body to burn stored fat which is often found in the stomach area. It also increases your metabolism for up to 48 hours after a hard workout. Something that slow cardio doesn’t do.


--Do strength training to build fat burning muscle, especially whole body strength training exercises like- push ups, pull ups, dips, squats, lunges, step ups, etc. They also speed up your metabolism for many hours after the workout, just like interval training.


--Work your abs. Even though you won't burn fat directly in your belly, you WILL tone the muscles underneath. A combination of fat loss and ab training is how to get flat abs.


Try some of the exercises here: Best Core Exercises and here: Best Ab Exercises . Focus on doing core exercises like the Plank, Side Plank, Bicycle Crunches, and Ab Wheel. 


Good Luck

Physical Fitness: Why Is It Important?

by Nikko 

(Pasay, Philippines)


QUESTION: Physical Fitness: Why Is It Important?


ANSWER: Well, in short, Physical Fitness is important because it can make you feel better, function better, and probably live longer.


I wrote an article last year answering the question in more detail:


Why Physical Fitness Is Important?


Physical Fitness can be broken down into the following components: Body Composition, Flexibility, Muscular Strength, Muscular Endurance, Cardiorespiratory Endurance. If you workout regularly with a well designed program, you'll score well in these areas.


Some of the benefits of being fit are: Increased longevity, better mental health, stronger immune system, better bone density, improved appearance, and better sleep.


Check out the article for the details.


You have everything to gain and nothing to lose by becoming more physically fit. 

What Body Fat Percentage Is Needed For Six Pack Abs?

by Toni


QUESTION: Besides cleaning up my diet, I recently adopted a running program along with my strength training in hopes of losing some body fat. At what body fat percentage do your abs start to show? 


ANSWER: Good question, Toni. Men must get down to about a 10% body fat level and women 15% for the abdominal muscles to show. Those numbers are approximate and will vary according to the individual. Getting six pack abs is a combination of ab muscle development and a low body fat level so that the muscles become visible. If your abs are well developed you can get away with a little higher body fat level. If not, you would need to get leaner. Anyone who wants a six pack needs to get as lean as possible while working their abs hard, three times a week.


In addition to the ab work you do, the running program and strength training you're doing will help you get a six pack. As part of your running program you should definitely be doing some interval training. Interval training is when you alternate between periods of high intensity exercise (15-60 seconds) and low intensity recovery (30-120 seconds). This type of training burns fat and builds muscle much more effectively than traditional slow cardio. Perfect for six pack building! You can see a video demo of how to do interval training Here. 


The strength training you're doing should ideally focus on compound movements-- exercises that use multiple joints and large muscle groups. This whole body strength training, focusing on your large muscle groups: your legs, chest, back, and shoulders-- is the best way to build muscle and burn fat. Exercises such as push ups, pull ups, dips, squats, lunges, step ups, dead lifts, etc. really work. Don't spend much time doing machine based isolation movements that work only one muscle at a time. Your training motto should be: Train Movements, Not Muscles.


Toni, it sounds like you're doing a lot of good things to get lean and fit. The Truth About Six Pack Abs is an excellent program to consider if you want a detailed plan to achieve a six pack. You can read my review of it Here . 


Good luck in your quest to get six pack abs.

Exercising After Surgery

by DD 

(Harvest AL)


QUESTION: Are there any safe abdominal exercises for a 2 month post total colectomy (colon removal) patient?

Or exercises period? 


ANSWER: DD, thanks for your question. I hope your recovery is going well. 


First of all, no matter what suggestions I may have, you definitely need to check with your doctor before doing anything. Make sure you're medically cleared to do any type of exercise or strenuous activity.


Assuming you've been cleared to do abdominal exercises, I would start with two of the Stomach Flattening Exercises. Both Ab Bracing and the Plank will work your abs and deep core muscles without any flexing of the spine.


Ab bracing can be done lying down or sitting up. Brace your abs as if someone is about to punch you in your stomach. Hold for 5 seconds and then release. Be sure and keep breathing. Don't strain or hold your breath. Try 4-6 reps and then build up to 8-12 reps.


If a full Plank seems like it would be too strenuous at this point, you can modify it by planking from your knees instead of your toes. You can also do a plank with your forearms supported on the edge of a couch, bench, or chair. Start out holding the plank for 20-30 seconds. As you get stronger you can try a full plank and build up your time to 60+ seconds.


You should do both these exercises 3 times a week. As you get stronger you can gradually add in some crunches, reverse crunches, bicycle crunches, etc. All, of course, with your doctor's permission.


Good luck,


Bill


How to Lower Triglycerides

by Jeff 

(Seattle)


QUESTION:After taking a physical the other day, I found out my triglycerides were too high (280mg/dl of blood). What are they and how do I lower my triglycerides?


ANSWER Triglycerides are a type of fat found in your blood and are a part of the cholesterol profile that was measured for your physical. When you get your cholesterol tested, they measure triglycerides because they are similar. A normal level of triglycerides is less than 150. Anything over 200 is considered high, so you definitely need to get your level down. High triglycerides can raise your risk of heart disease. They can also be indicative of diabetes, or may be an indicator of sensitivity to simple carbohydrates and alcohol.


Here’s How to Lower Triglycerides:


Reduce Sweets Sugar can quickly raise your triglycerides. Avoid the obvious examples: candy, pastries, soda, cookies, etc. Even drinks that may sound healthy, like fruit juices, are a problem if they are concentrated. Refined foods made with white flour can also increase triglycerides. 


Limit Alcohol Alcohol can have a strong effect on triglycerides. It is high in sugar and calories so it can really raise your levels. The type of alcohol doesn’t matter.... beer, wine, or mixed drinks will all do it.


Lose Weight Failing to maintain a healthy weight is a contributing factor for high triglycerides. Losing even 5 to 10 pounds can help. Focus on eating a healthy, low-calorie diet spread out over 5-6 meal/snacks per day for the best results.


Eat Healthy Fats Focus on eating monounsaturated fat found in plants, such as olive, peanut and canola oils, plus avocados. Include foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish, flaxseed oil, legumes, and dark leafy green vegetables.


Avoid Saturated Fats, Fried Foods, and Trans Fat Avoid high fat meats, sauces and spreads. Check labels for hydrogenated vegetable oil listed in the ingredient list. Those foods typically contain trans fats and should be avoided. Lunchmeat, hot dogs, and skin on poultry are all not recommended. 


Exercise Include exercise in your regular routine. Shoot for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, 3-5 times a week. This can boost your HDL (good cholesterol), while at the same time, lower your triglycerides and LDL (bad cholesterol). Make use of walking, running, biking, swimming, stair climbing, or an elliptical machine. Exercises that use the large muscle groups in a rhythmic and continuous manner. 


You may not be able to follow all of these recommendations, but try to implement as many as you can. The good news is that your triglyceride level can improve rapidly if you start making these changes. Do your best.


Good Luck,


Bill

Ab Circle Pro: Recommend or Not?

by Jacob 

(Michigan)

QUESTION: Would you recommend the Ab Circle Pro?

ANSWER: I would NOT recommend the Ab Circle Pro. There are many reasons, but the primary one is that the cost far exceeds the benefit. You don't need to spend $200 to get toned abs and a flat stomach. For about $25-$30 you could get an exercise ball and ab wheel. You will get a much better ab workout using those items than you will from the Ab Circle Pro. You can even spend zero dollars on ab equipment and get a great workout with exercises like the ones Here.

While the movement the machine uses will work your abs, it's limited to only one kind of move: lateral flexion. You should be working your abs in a variety of different planes of movement, as well as, static contractions like used in the Plank exercise. 

Other reasons against I would recommend against it:

1) They claim by using it you're aerobically burning fat. Not true. Aerobic exercise is characterized by use of the legs. Using the Ab Circle Pro uses the abs and upper body (which is supporting your weight while you do the movement), but it could not be accurately categorized as an "aerobic exercise".

2) They claim that you'll lose your love handles. That's spot reducing and it doesn't work. Working an area of the body does not burn the fat in that area. Only a reduction in calories along with an increase in calories burned through aerobic and strength training will burn your fat. An hour a day on the Ab Circle Pro won't burn fat on your abs.

3) Many of the reviews I read said the machine was not very sturdy. There is even a weight limit for use of the machine reflecting the concern about sturdiness. 

4) It takes up space in your house for a limited benefit.

While the Ab Circle Pro will work your abs and looks like it's fun to do, the cost, the limited benefit, and the false promises it makes prevents me from recommending it.

You would be much better off spending your money on a quality abs program like Mike Geary's instead.

Bill

How Do I Get Tighter Abs and A Washboard Stomach?

by Jeff 

(Texas)

QUESTION: I exercise a lot. I have reduced my obliques and abs, but want tighter abs. What can I do to get that washboard stomach. I'm a male, 36 yrs old.

ANSWER: Glad to hear that you've had some success in reducing your obliques and abs. That's a good start. In order to take it to another level you'll need to continue to lose fat. The key to getting washboard abs is a low body fat level.

Diet is 90% of a six pack. I like the Abs Diet For Men, but whatever healthy eating plan that can get you down to a 10-12% body level is fine.

Getting tighter abs is the easy part compared to the diet side of the equation. I don't know what kind of ab workouts you're doing now, but like most people, it probably includes a lot of crunches.

Believe it or not, you can get a six pack without doing a single crunch. My own ab workout includes only one set of crunches on a stability ball. Research has shown that in most real life activities the ab and core muscles work much more as stabilizers to stiffen the torso and prevent motion in the trunk, rather than movers of the trunk and spine.

So I would focus on ab stabilizer exercises. They are more functional and effective. Exercises such as the plank, the side plank, plank on a ball, and the ab wheel (or ball rollout) are the key ab stabilizer exercises. They make up 90% of my own ab workout. I also do the swiss ball jackknife and mountain climbers, along with push ups with my hands on two medicine balls. This works your core to an incredible extent.

In 5 minutes of work these kinds of exercises can strengthen your core, tone your abs, and protect your back more than 10,000 crunches can.

You can see how to do some of them in the video on this page- Best Ab Workout

Spend 10-15 minutes doing these exercises, 3 times a week and you can have a strong core, toned abs, and a six pack.....IF you can get your body fat low enough. That's still the key.

Get started and good luck.

Fat Burning Foods?

by Maria 

(Chicago, IL)

QUESTION: I’ve heard that there are Fat Burning Foods. Is that true? If it is, what are they? I need to know!

ANSWER You do hear a lot about fat burning foods. It would be great if there were foods or a pill that would burn fat directly. Unfortunately, there isn’t. There are no foods that directly burn fat. What IS available are foods that speed up your metabolism and create a positive hormonal situation for increased fat burning, starting with protein.

Advantages To Eating Protein

You may notice that protein is often the focus of many weight loss diets. There is a very good reason for that. Protein has a number of qualities that are advantageous for burning fat. The most critical one is that there is a higher caloric cost to digesting protein compared to carbs and fats. About 25% of the calories in protein is burned during digestion, while only 10-15% of the calories in fats and carbs are burned. Eating protein has at least a 10% advantage in caloric burn compared to carbs and fat. The more protein you eat, the harder the body has to work to digest it.

Protein is essential in building muscle. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat resulting in more calories burned at rest.

That’s a huge advantage in fat burning. Eating more protein along with doing strength training results in the following: More Muscle = Faster Metabolism = Less Fat.

Finally, eating protein will keep you feeling fuller, longer compared to carbs and fat. Eating some protein in all your meals and snacks will help you avoid the feeling like you’re “starving” and help prevent overeating. 

"Fat Burning Foods" To Focus On Whole Grains and Oats 

The complex carbs and fiber that are contained in whole grains and oats break down more slowly in your stomach compared to the more refined carbs that are in things like bagels or white bread. That helps keep your insulin levels low. High levels of insulin cause the body to store fat. That’s obviously something you want to avoid. Eating protein along with your complex carbs also helps avoid an insulin spike. Look for 100% whole grain wheat products along with oats.

Low Fat Dairy Products

Using low fat dairy products can help your fat burning. The key is calcium. Research has shown that calcium can aid your fat burning ability, as it plays a key role in how much fat is stored or broken down by the body. High calcium diets favor burning rather than storing fat. Low fat dairy sources should be used to keep the caloric cost down. Eating high fat dairy products could offset the calcium fat burning effect.

Lean Protein: Chicken, Turkey, Beef, Pork 

I covered the fat burning benefits of eating protein above. Increasing the amount of protein in your diet will boost your metabolism. Try to include some protein in all you meals and snacks. As with dairy, go with lean protein sources. They are healthier for you and are much lower in calories. 

Fish: Salmon and Tuna 

The key component for fat burning in fish is Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids can alter the level of leptin in your body. Leptin is a hormone that affects your metabolism, determining whether you burn calories or store them as fat. Low leptin levels allow you to burn fat more quickly. Eating fish will lower your leptin levels. If you don’t like fish you can take Fish-oil supplements. They work just as well as actually eating fish.

Hot Peppers 

Peppers like jalapenos, cayennes, red savina, and habaneros contain capsaicin. Capsaicin speeds up your heart rate. Studies have shown that peppers in a single meal can speed up your metabolism for hours after the meal. If you like peppers, why not include them frequently in your diet to help with fat burning.

Coffee and Green Tea 

Coffee contains caffeine which speeds up your heart rate. That means more calories burned. EGCG is a polyphenol found in green tea. It has been found to speed up your metabolism and aid in fat burning.

While there may not be foods that directly burn fat, there are a lot of foods that can contribute to increasing your metabolism and burning your fat. Fortunately, most of the foods that help in this way are good healthy foods. You should include as many of them in your diet as possible.

What Would Be the Best Ab Workout After My Accident?

by Jacob Z. 

(Michigan, USA)

QUESTION: Recently I was in a bicycle accident, and now regular crunches hurt my back (tail bone). What ab workouts could I do that will not hurt my back?

ANSWER:

Hi Jacob

Sorry to hear about your accident.

Fortunately, one of the best ab exercises you could possibly do should be perfect for your situation. The Plank should be a part of everyone's ab training. It works your deep core muscles and can tone and flatten your stomach like no other exercise. You should be able to it without any strain on your tailbone. You can see how to do it here: Best Core Exercises

Also try the side plank on that same page. That is another excellent core exercise that you should be able to do. 

Both plank exercises are done for time. The front plank should be done between 20 seconds and 2 minutes depending on your fitness level. The side plank, 15-60 seconds, each side.

Two additional ab exercises that could work for you can be found on the Best Ab Exercises page. If you have an exercise ball, crunches on the ball might work if you position yourself so your tailbone is not contacting the ball. You'd have to try it. 

The ab wheel is another great core exercise that should work without any pressure on your tailbone. If you don't have an ab wheel, but have an exercise ball, you can do exercise ball rollouts. You can see how to do those in the video Here.

So I would try:

1) Front Plank 20-60 seconds 

2) Side Plank 15-25 seconds

3) Crunches on the Exercise Ball 15-20 reps

4) Ab Wheel, or Ball Rollout 6-10 reps

Do them 3x a week, 1 set of each exercise, rest 30 seconds in between sets. After 2 weeks consider adding an additional set. 

All 4 of these exercises are great to do whether you're injured or not. They should keep your abs strong and toned.

Be sure and check with your doctor to make sure these exercises are ok for you to do in your current condition.

Hope that helps and you have a fast recovery.

Bill

What Should I Weigh?

by Alice 

(Atlanta)

QUESTION: What Should I Weigh? The weight charts I see give wide ranges and seem to be way off. How do I figure out what is a healthy weight for me?

ANSWER: That’s a good question and one that gets asked a lot. It’s a more complicated question than it appears. The information you get from the typical bathroom scale can be misleading. The biggest problem with using scale weight as a way to determine ideal body weight is that it doesn’t tell you about your body composition (your % body fat). Two people could weigh the exact same amount, and one (with high body fat level) could be considered overweight, while the other (muscular athlete) considered fit. Other factors that can determine how much you should weigh are age, height, sex, and bone density. 

There are generally three methods that are used to determine what you should weigh. They are Body Fat Percentage (BFP), Waist-to-Hip Ratio (WHR), and Body Mass Index (BMI).

Body Fat Percentage (BFP) 

Let’s start with Body Fat Percentage because it is the best method. The drawback is that the most accurate ways to measure it involve expensive equipment you have to go to a facility for, while WHR and BMI are easily measured at home. The various ways of calculating a person's body fat percentage include Hydrodensitometry Weighing (Underwater Weighing), Calipers (Anthropometry- Skinfold Measurements), BOD POD (Air Displacement), and BIA (Bioelectrical Impedance). 

Fortunately, many scales now have BIA included to estimate your body fat percentage. Calipers are also available at many gyms or doctors offices. Both of these methods can give you an estimate of your BFP, but are not considered as accurate as the more expensive equipment. You can also use the YMCA Body Fat Calculator if you don’t have access to a scale with BIA or Calipers.

Once you have a measure of body fat percentage, you can see the recommendations based on age and sex with this Body Fat Percentage Chart

Waist-Hip Ratio (WHR) 

The WHR is the ratio of the circumference of your waist to that of your hips. It is primarily used as an indicator of your health, as a high ratio can indicate an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. At the same time, it is also a good indicator of whether you body weight is at a healthy level.

How to calculate WHR: Measure your waist at the narrowest point and your hips at the widest point. Divide your waist measurement by the hip measurement to get your ratio. For instance, a male with a waist of 33 inches and hips of 40 inches (33 divided by 40) equals a ratio of .825.

What Does Your Ratio Mean: 

For Men:

-Less than 0.9 - low risk of cardiovascular problems

-0.9 to 0.99 - moderate risk of cardiovascular problems 

-1 or over - high risk of cardiovascular problems


For Women:

-Less than 0.8 - low risk of cardiovascular problems 

-0.8 to 0.89 - moderate risk of cardiovascular problems 

-0.9 or over - high risk of cardiovascular problems

Your goal should be to get your WHR into the low risk category. That will assure a healthy body weight along with a lower risk of health problems. People who have larger WHRs (apple shaped bodies) have more health risks than those who have lower WHRs (pear-shaped bodies). 

Body Mass Index (BMI)

Your BMI identifies whether your weight should be categorized as Normal, Overweight, or Obese. It is calculated based on your weight in relation to your height. You can measure your BMI with the BMI Calculator. By changing the number you enter as weight, it can reveal what weight you have to be to be classified as “normal”.

The biggest issue with BMI is that it doesn’t allow for a differentiation between muscle weight and fat weight. A heavily muscled athlete will be categorized as overweight. BMI is more accurate for the average person. The biggest plus for BMI is it is a fast and easy way to screen a lot of people.

Your best bet for answering the question: what should I weigh?, is to use all the tools available to you: The Body Fat Calculator , The BMI Calculator , and the calculating of your WHR. Between these 3 methods you should be able to arrive at an estimation of a healthy weight range for you.

Good Luck 

Bill

Losing Lower Ab Fat

by CAROL 

(DAMON TX )

QUESTION: I have most of my weight in my lower abs and in my abs in general. Is it true that no amount of training one certain spot on your body will make you lose weight in that spot?

ANSWER: Carol, you're not alone having excess weight located in your lower abs. It's a very common problem. Unfortunately, it is true that training a certain area will not make you lose weight in that area. What you're describing is called "Spot Reducing". It is one of the biggest Ab myths and it has been used to sell a lot of Ab products on infomercials over the years. You can read about more ab myths on my Ab Workout Basics page

The way to lose ab fat is the same way you lose fat in any area: consuming fewer calories than you're burning. It's not complicated, but unfortunately it's not easy. Doing that will cause you to lose fat from all over your body, with the majority coming from the areas that have the most to lose.

The best way to lose fat is to eat a healthy, low calorie diet, do cardio training (with interval training being the best), and do strength training. Interval training will burn the most calories, along with giving you the best "after burn"....the amount of calories you burn up to 24 hours after working out. Strength training will also result in a good "after burn", along with building fat-burning lean muscle.

It's also a good idea to do ab training 3x a week as part of your strength training workouts. Even though you won't be burning the fat in your lower abs, you'll firm and tone the ab muscles under the fat. That will help flatten your belly. Check out the Best Core Exercises and Stomach Flattening Exercises for some good ab exercises. Definitely include the Plank as part of your workout. It's one of the best core exercises and will strengthen and flatten your abs better than almost any ab exercise.

Hope that helps

Good Luck

Bill

How Long Should I Do The Beginner Ab Workout?

By Ian 

(Indianapolis,IN,USA)

Question: I was looking at the Beginner Ab Workout and I was wondering how long I would have to do this until I see results. Also, should I do the same workout for a week or so, or should switch it up everyday.

Answer: You should start to see results after 3 or 4 weeks of doing the beginner ab workout. You'll be able to do more reps and, depending on the amount of belly fat you have, you should start to notice increased muscle tone and stomach flatness. If you're talking about 6 pack results, then that will take a lot longer. Getting a six pack is dependent on having low body fat and well developed ab muscles. Also, the further out of shape you are, the faster you'll notice results.

You should train your abs three times a week for 10-15 minutes per session. If you're doing the right exercises you don't need to do more than that. Stick with the beginner workout for 4 or 5 weeks and then switch up your workout with some new exercises. It's a good thing to alter any type of workout every 4-6 weeks. Using variety and adapting to your improving condition is the key to getting the best results.

Check out the Best Core Exercises for some good choices to take your ab training to the next level. For the next step I would look at the Plank, Side Plank, and Bicycle Crunches. You also should take a look at the Beginner Exercise Ball Workout . An exercise ball is a valuable piece of ab training equipment that I highly recommend everyone have.

If you stick to doing your ab training 3 times a week, while doing a variety of exercises and changing your routine at regular intervals, you should be able to get the results you want. 

Good Luck

All the information received here is for educational and resource purposes only. It is to help you make informed decisions about physical training and exercise. Be sure and consult your physician before starting any exercise program or adhering to any information you receive from us. 

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