Fitness Ideas

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 25, 2002

Training abs for summer

The ultimate way to tell if someone is in really good shape is to look at their stomach. No one wants their belly to hang over their pants nor do they want to have jiggling love handles. You can tell if someone takes care of their body and eats a balanced diet by the way their stomach looks. Before you put on your bathing suit this summer, spend some extra time getting your abs in shape with the following exercises.

For each exercise, try to do as many as you can without feeling it in your back; if you reach 25 reps, move on to the next exercise.

1. Reverse Crunches: Lying on your back with your knees bent, place your feet flat on the floor. Keeping your knees bent, bring them into your chest as far as you can, keeping your upper back on the floor. By lifting your glutes up off the floor, you will really feel a burn in the abs. However, if you feel this in your back, you should not do this exercise.

2. Oblique Crunches: Lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, reach your right hand toward your right heel, crunching your right side. Then, reach your left hand toward your left heel, crunching your left side. Keep alternating between sides. This works your obliques – the sides of your stomach.

3. Overhead Crunches: Lying with your back on the floor and your knees bent, place your arms straight over your head. Keep your elbows right by your ears, tighten your abs and lift your shoulders off the floor. Keep your eyes focused just beyond your knees, then lower your shoulders. Do as many as you can without letting your back take over. You’ll feel this higher up in your abs.

Keep in mind that what you eat has a lot to do with the way your stomach will look. Stick to a low-fat, well-balanced meal plan and your hard work will start to show.

Make fitness a priority

When beginning with a new client, there are several steps to develop a safe and effective fitness plan:

1. Medical History. It is very important to evaluate the medical history of anyone who is beginning an exercise program. Risk factors (heart disease, high blood pressure, etc.), past injuries or current illnesses need to be cleared with your physician before starting a fitness program.

2. Goal Setting. Goal setting is the key to achieving the results you desire. Practical goals might include training for a race, increasing upper body strength to carry the kids, or sleeping better.

3. Program Design. Develop a realistic and safe fitness program that fits into your lifestyle. This will include aerobic and resistance/strength training done at home or at a gym.

4. Program Evaluation. Establish a reliable measure of progression and achievement. Lowered body-fat composition, a decrease in the time it takes to walk or run a specified distance, and monitoring heart-rate responses to exercise are great measures of progress.

5. Accountability and Motivation. Develop a support system to encourage continued success during your new fitness program. Finding a workout buddy or incorporating your workout program with a family member will allow you to reach your goals and, at the same time, maintain your social and family life.

You can follow these same steps in starting a fitness plan (or improving your current one). When you make fitness a priority in your life, you’re taking positive steps toward a more energetic, productive and satisfying lifestyle.

Why not take up the fitness challenge today?

© 2002 King Features Synd. Inc.