Effective, safe tummy exercises

Can sit-ups really make you fatter?

No, but they certainly can make you look fatter. Sit-ups and crunches done incorrectly make your stomach pooch out and make your waist thicker so that you end up buying the next pant size. Not a great reward for all that work.

More importantly, sit-ups are a physiological nightmare for everyone. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health drew a line in the sand: No worker is to perform a task that loads 730 pounds (or more) of compression on the spine. Any pressure at 730 pounds or more skyrockets the probability of spine injury. Now guess where sit-ups are in terms of compression: Exactly 730 pounds of compression.

The good news: There are exercises more effective, less painful and less dangerous than sit-ups so let's stop wasting our time on this old-fashioned exercise!

  1. Hand-to-Knee Presses
    How it's done: Laying on your back press your right hand to your left knee. Press as hard as you can.

    Why it Works: This exercise has been shown to activate your 'six-pack' muscle, rectus abdominis (r.a.), even more than a sit-up does. A sit-up activates the r.a. at 52% of its possible maximum contraction and this exercise activates the r.a. at 75 percent. Remarkable because this exercise is so easy and can be done by anyone. Great for rehab; great for athletes.

  2. Crunch (NOT a sit-up)
    How it's done: Laying on your back, press the abdomen (not just the belly button) toward the spine. NO POOCHING! Lift just the upper part of the shoulders off the mat.

    Why a Crunch Makes the Stomach Thicker and How to do it Right. Muscles form in the shape that you put them in. If when you perform a crunch the stomach pooches out then that is the shape you are creating. Doing a crunch properly is essential if you do not want to add an inch to your waist.

    Interesting Tidbit: The hand-to-knee press (above) and this crunch both activate the six-pack muscle at almost the same percent. But the hand-to-knee press is still a more effective exercise because it activates the oblique (love handle area) much more than the crunch.

  3. Side Bridge
    How It's done: Sitting on your right hip, prop yourself up on your right elbow. Knees are bent. Lift the hips off of the mat, squeeze the gluteals (butt muscles) and push the hips forward.

    Why It Works: Whenever we want to work the oblique muscles or the sides of the abdominals we head for the typical elbow-to-knee cross-over crunch. This exercise works the oblique muscles at twice the work load of the traditional cross-over crunch.

  4. Push-ups
    How It's done: Push-up position

    Why It Works: Push-ups DO work the abdominals. Think of a push-up done incorrectly where the stomach sags to the floor. Right! All of the abdominal muscles: your six-pack and your oblique. Good job!
About Karena Thek Lineback:

Karena opened Pilates Teck after retiring from a professional dance career. The studio has been a center of learning for Karena as well as a catalyst to future projects (see below). 'The more I teach the more I understand about how our bodies respond to the stress we face in everyday life and how those stresses can be alleviated through movement.'

About The Book:

"OsteoPilates; Increase Bone Density, Reduce Fracture Risk, Look and Feel Great!" was created due to a lack of information about exercising safely with low bone density. This book teaches safe exercise to prevent fracture while exercising (Sit-ups are a high fracture risk situation) and the rules for preventing low bone density.

The Radio Show: 'Today's Woman' AM 1220 KHTS. Get to know Karena on air on Wednesdays 12-1 p.m. PST. Listen live at www.hometownstation.com or podcast the show and listen later. Karena's interviews are fun, upbeat and focus on what is on the minds of women.

The Television Special: 'Pilates for Every Body'. American Public Television not only requested rights to this special for two years but also funded 70 percent of the program. The special began airing nationwide on May 23, 2009. The special has a strong health and wellness focus.

>> Buy this book on Amazon: Osteopilates: Increase Bone Density Reduce Fracture Risk Look and Feel Great

For more information, visit www.osteopilates.com

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