Monday, January 28, 2002

Personal Trainer

Focus on quality when training abdoninal muscles

By Dave Patania
Enquirer contributor

        Question: What is the best way to exercise my abdominal muscles without increasing my waist size? I am short-waisted and a serious routine of sit-ups just seems to make my waist widen!

        Answer: To get the results you are looking for, concentrate on three things: disciplined eating habits, cardiovascular exercise and focused training.

        What I mean by focused training is paying close attention to detail. This involves creating well-shaped and defined abdominal muscles by fully isolating the muscles with proper body placement and contracting the muscles throughout the full range of motion in a very slow and deliberate fashion.

        Create quality over quantity by emphasizing how well you perform each exercise over how many. Just picking a number of exercises and doing as many as you can is not focused training. Cut down the number of reps/sets and focus on getting quality reps/sets that will produce top-level definition rather than basic muscle development.

        There are only so many abdominal exercises, so concentrate on improving your technique and slowing your speed of movement on the exercises.

        Even if you start the focused abdominal training, it will not give you the appearance you desire without consistent cardiovascular exercise and disciplined, well-balanced meals that will help to metabolize the layer of fat between your skin and abdominal muscles.

        Q: I am 14. Could I gain 30 pounds of muscle in six weeks just by doing squats?

        A: You could put the family car on your back, squat it and still never gain that much lean muscle in six weeks.

        At 14, you should focus on learning how to lift rather than how much. And you should learn to eat well-balanced, nutrient-packed meals. Your body is still in a rapid state of growth so it is hard to tell how much weight you will gain or not gain in the coming weeks, months or years. However, shoot for gaining one pound of lean muscle mass per week for 10-12 weeks by training smart and eating in a disciplined manner. You will be surprised at what an extra 10 pounds of lean muscle looks like.

        Step 1 is finding a fitness professional to show you how to do that without hurting yourself. Most — 99.9 percent — of teen-age lifting injuries could have been prevented by proper form and technique.

        Before you pick up a minivan, pick up the phone, call a gym and set up a meeting with a fitness professional.

        E-mail certified personal trainer Dave Patania at


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- Focus on quality when training abdoninal muscles
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