Here at Knope-Jenkins Personal Training I am often asked by new clients, “What exercises should I be doing for my stomach?”. Now that question typically has a couple meaning behind it. Often when people start working out with a trainer, they want to lose weight. For both men and women, the place they frequently want to lose that weight from is their stomach. When people ask for “Core exercises”, what they are really asking for is a way to decrease body-fat from their midsection. Doing planks, situps, or other core exercises is not going to shrink the size of your waist! Now this might seem like common sense to people who know a lot about fitness, but its easy to forget that when people are first getting started they often have no clue that there is no such thing as spot treatment.
Everyone has a six pack. Not everyone’s six pack is visible. What I mean by that is that having visible abs is a byproduct of a low body-fat percentage. If you are at 16% body-fat or higher, unless you have a lot of ab muscle, you’re most likely not going to see your abs. Between 16% and 14% BF you will most likely have visible abs if you flex. When you reach around <12% BF you will have visible abs even when relaxed. After hearing that, The next question I get is “How do I decrease my body fat percentage?” The way to decrease BF and waist size is to eat healthy and workout your legs. Why your legs you ask? Because your legs are the biggest muscles in your body, and therefore burn more calories with every exercise performed. The nutrition side of things is something that is often underestimated. 70% of weight loss is nutrition, you can’t out cardio bad eating habits.
So when a client asks me, “What exercises should I be doing for my abs?”, I always make sure they understand that holding a plank wont help them be skinnier. When they get a low body-fat percentage, their abs will look more defined then they would if they hadn’t been working their abs, but doing crunches wont get you thin! Now, I’m not advocating never working your abs, far from it, the benefits to doing core work are plentiful; less low back pain, more stability in your trunk, improved posture, and so much more. The reason I tell my clients this, and the reason I’m telling you this, is because if you think working your abs will help you decrease waist size, you’re going to be disappointed when it doesn’t work. Disappointment and lack of progress are what makes us give up on our goals.
Make sure to check out our post on the best core exercises that you are probably doing wrong, and the 5 best leg exercises everyone should be doing!