The Real Reasons Your Waist Isn’t Shrinking (And What to Do About It)
Does this sound familiar? Your diet is consistently healthy, you exercise regularly, and you even throw in a few sets of crunches every day. Yet, your stubborn waist just won’t shrink. What’s up?
The culprit could be something you’ve never considered before: your breathing. That’s right, the way you breathe could be sabotaging your fitness results! It’s crazy to think that something we do every day without consciously thinking could have such a huge impact on our appearance, but the truth is that only breathing “into” the right muscles during exercise can work your abs correctly and result in a leaner waist.
Read on to discover two common waist-shrinking mistakes that most people make, and how to correct them today.
Mistake #1: Relying on crunches to work the right ab muscles
We’ve been conditioned by fitness magazines and infomercials to think that if we do enough crunches, we’ll end up with a flat stomach or killer six pack that would make The Rock jealous. But that darn transversus abdominus muscle layer… well, the only way to exercise it is to put your spine in a neutral position.
This means that crunches, which curve your spine, just won’t slim your waist no matter how many you do.
What to do instead: Change your focus
I’m not telling you to abandon crunches or other bodyweight exercises, of course, but it’s time to adjust your expectations of what kind of waist you’ll get by doing 100 crunches a day and nothing more.
Consider using crunches as one part of a comprehensive exercise and diet plan rather than a silver bullet to get a slimmer midsection fast. And most importantly, focus on breathing correctly and making the most of each workout no matter what exercise you’re doing.
Mistake #2: Holding your muscles in during exercise
“Hold your abs while you move!” You probably hear that all the time during exercise class. It sounds great but I hate to tell you—tensing your abs is not helping your waist. Here’s why:
The deepest layer of your abdominal muscles is the transversus abdominus. Scary name, I know, but it’s actually an awesome muscle layer that narrows your waist when it’s exercised correctly. The problem is, most people end up exercising the transversus abdominus incorrectly or totally ignoring it during workouts.
What to do instead: Ribcage breathing
Breathing correctly during workouts gives your muscles more power and ensures that you’re working the right ones to drop inches from your waist. Train yourself to breathe the right way using this exercise that I like to call ribcage breathing:
· Place your hands on the sides of your ribcage and wrap your fingers around it.
· Imagine a jellyfish swimming in the water—that’s how you should breathe, with your diaphragm widening and sliding down, and then doming and sliding up.
· Practice inhaling and feeling the ribs expand under your hands. Your diaphragm should contract and slide down the spine to make space for your lungs to fill.
· Practice exhaling and feeling the ribs narrowing underneath your fingers. Your diaphragm should release up into the ribcage and take the shape of a dome to push the air out of the lungs.
· Envision this alternating dome-like movement while repeating the breathing cycle 5 times.
Do this exercise before every workout to get into the mode of breathing correctly. Soon enough, you won’t even need to think about it as you watch the inches slide off your waist.