Fit and fine by Kamal Singh CSCS: In pursuit of a small waist
A question that I am always asked – is it possible to exercise your way to a smaller waist? The answer is as always – ‘it depends’. A number of conditions have to be met before we can consider using an abdominal exercise for tightening up the waist.
Doing thousands of reps of ‘abs’ is not going to give you a small, tight waist. So, forget all the misinformation spread by your favourite film star about how he/she used to do thousands of reps every day to develop a ripped six-pack. Abs are still made through diet. Eat clean to cut the blubber, then train those muscles like any other body part, two-three times a week with progressive overload. And voila, the desired six-pack makes an appearance. But the funny part is that you can have a six-pack but still not a small tight waist.
You would wonder how is this ever possible that somebody with a six-pack, low body fat and not have a small tight waist. This is possible because we have forgotten that a deeper muscle, which lies below the superficial Rectus Abdominis and Obliques also needs to be trained. This is the Transversus Abdominus or the TVA, which runs left to right and actually works like a belt or corset.
In the 1970s, competitive bodybuilders were judged on having small waists. Training to create a small waist was an integral part of their programme.
The TVA is trained by the famous vacuum pose. Yogis are famous for their vacuum pose as were the behemoths of the 1970s – Arnold Schwarzenegger and Frank Zane, professional bodybuilders would show off their ability to completely suck in their stomachs while posing in bodybuilding competitions.
Training the TVA
Training the TVA is very simple and does not require any equipment but simple does not mean easy.
•First stage: Lie flat on your back, bend your knees and keep your soles of your feet flat on the ground. Exhale all your breath out and then pull your navel inwards towards your spine. Now hold for 45 seconds. Do three sets like this. You can take small breaths while holding the navel in. This is not an exercise in breath control! When you can easily do three sets, increase the time to 60 seconds. Then up the sets to five. Once you can do five sets then.
•Second stage: Be on your hands and knees, do three sets of 30-45 seconds, to three sets of 60 seconds and finally five sets of 60 seconds. Successfully completing these two stages can take up to two-three months.
•Final stage: Sit comfortably on a chair and repeat the above protocol.
•By the end of the third and final stage, a trainee has enough control of his/her abdominal wall and can pretty much touch the navel to their spine. Their waist is tight and tiny when observed back to front.
There you go - the old school secret for a small and tiny waist. The funny part is that this was common knowledge in the not so distant past but has got lost in the pursuit of shiny exercise machines, latest supplements and complicated exercise programmes.
To summarise –
•Diet is necessary for reducing body fat. Exercise is inefficient for reducing body fat.
•The Transverse Abdominus or the TVA needs to be worked for creating a small waist.
•Practise vacuum holds in lying, on all fours and sitting positions to train the TVA.
•The stronger the TVA, the tinier the waist.
Now try it and let me know…
Kamal Singh is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist who has been coaching for 15 years
From HT Brunch, September 21, 2020
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