Ab Workouts
August 3, 2004 7:31 PM   Subscribe

I want abs. I'm 5'8", 134lbs. I've never worked out and don't have time for a gym. Basically I'm looking for a good routine that I can do in, say, 15min a morning that will strengthen my abs and, if possible, give some visible definition. Right now I have a small belly. I've heard mixed things about crunches. Anyone have a good routine that meets my needs? I'd like to see results in a month or two.
posted by Grod to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
OK, that was flip, but I don't really think you've got a realistic set of expectations. If you've got a "small belly", sit-ups aren't going to make that go away--you'll just have a fit set of abs underneath a pot belly.

Unless you're naturally blessed, the only way to get visible "abs" is an overall program that includes diet, overall cardio, and a lot of crunches/sit-ups/something like that. And if you've got to work off a bit of a belly, it's going to take more than a couple of months.

There was a recent thread (that I have a hard time tracking down) about a guy who was in so-so shape, and really worked out hard. He ended up with a pretty impressive six-pack, but even with a full-blown program, it still took him more than a "month or two".

(Sorry--I guess I'm responding more to the tone of your inquiry. It's a great idea to get into better shape, but you seem to be insisting on a pretty unrealistic set of criteria.)
posted by LairBob at 7:44 PM on August 3, 2004

Use make-up to paint on the abs while you spend (probably much) longer than 2 months reducing your body fat to 8 percent or whatever insane level you need to get down to if you want a six pack.
posted by willnot at 7:46 PM on August 3, 2004

Pilates gave me abs, and the basic workout is extremely compressed and doesn't require anything but comfortable clothing and maybe a yoga mat. I would recommend finding a class rather than starting out with just a tape or DVD, because there are important points about posture and positioning that it's much easier to have someone show you in person. A teacher can also suggest alternative exercises for beginners, then teach you more interesting variations as you go along.
posted by zadcat at 7:49 PM on August 3, 2004

You *have* abs right now, but they're simply hidden under your "small belly." At 5'8"/134, you don't sound like you have a *lot* of body fat, but you'll need to do a little more than a simple ab workout to get them ready to show off to the ladies.

You have 2 choices: burn more calories than are going in (through aerobic exercise like running, biking, rollerblading) or simply reduce the number of calories going in, period (diet). Though the word is taboo, you can effectively reduce your caloric intake by simply changing a few things in your diet. It doesn't have to be drastic, either. Do you drink coke? See if you can manage on diet coke for a month or two. (or better yet, water!)

Combined with losing a bit of fat around your midsection, doing situps/crunches will help tone your abs and make them stonger. Just remember: your abs are like an accordion. It's not about how many situps/crunches you can do, but rather, how hard you can squeeze the accordion. Use your capacity to squeeze as your benchmark, not how many you can do. Also: your abs are just like any other muscle, and don't benefit from overexertion.

If you started doing 3 sets of crunches every other day and cut down a little on the diet (and/or did a little exercise) - the results would probably be very rewarding for you. At your size/weight, you don't really have all that far to go -- you'd probably start seeing desirable results relatively quickly.
posted by Hankins at 8:02 PM on August 3, 2004

I'll second the pilates rec. It definitely helps build muscle down there, but as Lairbob mentioned, you might end up with ripped muscles under fat if you don't alter your diet and do some (ok, a lot!) of cardio. Another rec, if you've got space and about $100, buy a power tower or join a gym and lift free weights. Building upper body muscle helps burn fat which will reveal your abs. Given focus and determination and strict diet, you might have a 2 pack or 4 pack within 3-6 months. Though, as always, YMMV.
posted by shoepal at 8:07 PM on August 3, 2004

Lose fat. Crunches are not worthwhile unless you progressively add resistance (eg hold a small soup can under your chin, increase weight regularly).

You are unlikely to lose any significant fat in 15 minutes a day,
unless you do something really intense like interval training. Half an hour every other day is more like it.

Also, you may never see clearly defined abs. Some people just carry their fat there and would have to be dead with zero bodyfat before they show. Be prepared for that possibility.

And what LairBob and Hankins said.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 8:12 PM on August 3, 2004

I asked about this earlier. Here's what I was doing, ontop of normal weight training:

100 situps, then 120, etc. until I got to like 150 situps. I did this every day for a month. Then I started doing situps with weights and making it more like a workout (4 sets of 10). This helped my abs get as big as they would get without insane dieting.

I eventually stopped doing it since the gains were small compared to the amount of work I was doing. Since stopping I have noticed a difference in my ab size, but it's so small I highly doubt anyone would notice.

So to echo what everyone else has been saying, either go on an insane diet and exercise the ab muscles like crazy or just ignore it.
posted by geoff. at 8:24 PM on August 3, 2004

Response by poster: Hmmm. OK. Thanks. I don't want to be ripped or have a six-pack, all I want is for my stomach to be flat. I take it doing a steadily increasing number of crunches and adding weights at some point will eventually give me this?
posted by Grod at 8:38 PM on August 3, 2004

I have same problem. I am 5'5, 135 lbs, don't particularly care about being super-strong or having chiseled abs, but would just like a flat stomach - what should I do?
posted by ac at 9:25 PM on August 3, 2004

Just losing body fat via general exercise and diet is more likely to be effective. You can have stonking huge abs that won't show if there's fat in front of them. When people claim that they've gained abs through doing 100s a day, it's the sheer calories burned in doing so, not the crunches, that have made the difference.

Check out this. Or just google "spot reduction myth".

To reiterate: you have a fat stomach because that is where you carry most visible fat. To reduce your fat stomach, lower overall bodyfat. Training abs will give you BIGGER abs, and stronger abs, but will not make them show through your belly until you have lost fat through aerobic exercise, weights and diet.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:32 PM on August 3, 2004

Sigh. I remember the days when I was 5'8" and 135lbs.

Then middle age started sneaking up on me.


and then metafilter, and that's when it all really started going to pot. Must. Walk. More.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:28 AM on August 4, 2004

posted by oh posey at 6:11 AM on August 4, 2004

i'm 5'8" and 140lbs and have a flat stomach, but there's no sign of what i'd call "abs" - no 6 pack. anyway, if that's all you want, i'm like that because i was (1) born that way (tho' a tad lighter i guess ;o) and (2) run (which perhaps means i have less body fat than you as i prolly have rather heavier legs for the same overall weight).

not sure that helps, but since i matched your weight + height i thought i'd throw it in.
posted by andrew cooke at 6:56 AM on August 4, 2004

I guess this is another question, but how much are you suppossed to weigh at 5'8"?
posted by xammerboy at 6:56 AM on August 4, 2004

according to this page a normal bmi is 18.5-24.9, so someone 5' 8" should typically weight between 122 and 164 pounds.

bmi is only a statistical measure - individual circumstances vary, etc etc.
posted by andrew cooke at 9:03 AM on August 4, 2004

I guess this is another question, but how much are you suppossed to weigh at 5'8"?

the easy answer I have always heard for this is 100 lbs for 5 ft, 5 more pounds per inch (so 5'8" -> 140lbs) - which seems to be spot in the middle of andrew cooke's bmi range (well, 3 lbs off, I guess...).

Anyway, it does not sound like you are overweight. Some people are just luckier with basic body shape, I think - not to say you shouldn't give it a try, but a person can have ribs poking through and still have a bit of a belly, so I wouldn't say the best route would be just cutting calories. I'd concentrate on general fitness ; crunches, leg lifts, etc are all good exercise, though be careful about straining your back by doing too many before you build up the muscle - I would start light and work up. But again, I'd try for an overall fitness approach, not just concentrating on one muscle group.
posted by mdn at 12:44 PM on August 4, 2004

I'm 5'8" and 178lb. Also about 16% bodyfat. "How much should I weigh" depends very much on imponderables like your build (big legs, broad back in my case) and amount of fat (on the low side in my case).

I have a hint of abs in a good light... dunno if I could be bothered putting the effort in to cut down to where they'd really show. At the moment I'm training with weights and doing capoeira while eating at around maintenance level, and my bodyfat seems to be very slowly dropping. So maybe this time next year. Or not.

When did abs become the signifier for fitness anyway? Seems to me that absent a gut, a triangular outline is the thing for blokes to go for.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:18 PM on August 4, 2004

5'8" and 154lb, about 20% bodyfat. So it looks like there is significant variability. I do note that joe, 24lbs heavier but with less bodyfat, is actually working out, whereas I'm sitting on my ass.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:42 PM on August 4, 2004

Also, bodyfat measurement is pretty inaccurate. The only really reliable way is to render you down for tallow, which has some unfortunate side effects. So fff could be leaner, I could be fatter.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 8:05 PM on August 4, 2004

« Older Tennis Tournaments   |   What launcher do you use? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.