To Your Health: Battle the Bulge

Dear guys,
You are my last resort! I have had two children and I think that no matter what I do, my stomach will never be the same again. It used to be flat but now it’s a protruding paunch. If I did 200 sit-ups a day, or bought one of those miracle ab crunch machines from QVC, would it help or am I stuck with my bulge forever?

Sarah Rently

You aren’t stuck with your so-called bulge; but don’t be fooled, there are no miracle machines or diets that can give you an instant six-pack or a flat, toned stomach. So, don’t waste your money – no matter how good the commercial.
You have to remember that no matter how strong your stomach muscles are, if they’re covered with a layer of fat you won’t be able to see them. Losing fat around your waist through a healthy, lean diet is essential.

Although it may be surprising, traditional sit-ups aren’t the best exercises for a stronger, flatter stomach – in fact they are some of the least effective. The reason for this is most people use the strength in their hips and backs to pull themselves upright, which can cause strain and injury.

The best exercises and equipment for muscle stimulation in the rectus abdominis (the long, flat muscle on the front of the abdomen) and the obliques (the long, flat muscles on the sides of the abdomen) are as follows:

1. Bicycle Crunch
2. Captain’s Chair
3. Ab Crunch on an Exercise Ball
4. Vertical Leg Crunch
5. Torso Track
6. Long Arm Crunch
7. Reverse Crunch
8. Crunch with Heel Push
9. Ab Roller
10. Plank
11. Traditional Abdominal Crunch
12. Exercise Tubing Pull
13. Ab Rocker

*The Ab Rocker was the worst piece of equipment tested. The Ab Roller and the Torso Track were better than the Ab Rocker, but statistically they weren’t much better than the basic crunch.

crunch on an exercise ball:

Sit on the exercise ball with your feet flat on the floor.

Let the ball roll back slowly and lie back until your thighs and torso are parallel with the floor.

Raise your torso upwards toward the ceiling using your stomach muscles. Keep your upper body in the same position and don’t let your chin drop.

Aim for 20 repetitions.

Do these exercises correctly, achieve a healthy body fat ratio and your abs will have no choice but to show themselves again.

Billy Katz and Hudson Ellis are the co-owners of Simply Fit gyms. Read more tips from them in Renaissance Publishing’s e-newsletter. Sign up by visiting

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