By Tresanna Hassanally
Is joining a gym your New Year’s resolution? As titillating as the idea of a washboard stomach is, you’ve probably already given up the hope of your Buddha belly ever turning into a stomach fit for a Greek god.
The perfect, flat stomach is becoming more visible as various celebrities, such as Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez popularize the fit figure. And thanks to hip huggers, naval rings and belly tops, abs are on display all the time.
But looking good isn’t the only benefit of abdominal muscles, says Ryerson’s women’s volleyball coach Arif Nathoo.
“You need abdominal strength for a lot of the skills in volleyball,” says Nathoo.
Sasha Simic, starting power on the men’s volleyball team, says his first reason for working on his abs is to perfect his volleyball skills.
“I don’t do it just to look good, though, I’m over that stage from puberty,” he says with a laugh.
Simic, 23, works out seven to eight times a week during the volleyball season and five times a week during the off-season.
He says he is naturally blessed with the body part in question. “Since I was a little kid, I’ve always had a six pack and I’ve always got it through sports,” says the former Ryerson athlete of the year. “I have a super turbo metabolism. I can eat as much as I want and I don’t gain a pound. I’ve been the same weight for six years.”
Ryerson student Serena Schwab recently signed a contract to do promotional modeling for a supplement company.
Schwab starting working out three years ago after landing a job at Extreme Fitness. She says that 80 per cent of the battle to get great abs is nutrition.
Schwab says tight abs are tough to gain on a tight schedule.
But if you want a quick fix to look good on a Saturday night, Schwab suggests that you eat high protein and balanced carbohydrates for a week. The night before you go out stop drinking water she says. The morning of the party, she suggests eating a high carb meal like waffles.
“In a nutshell, it will make your muscles swell and the lack of water will make skin cling to muscles making them appear more toned and defined,” she says. However, she does stress that this is a short-term solution.
Ulysses Aiello, a personal trainer at Bally Total Fitness, says popular culture has increased the number of people working on their ab muscles.
“On TV everyone is exposing their stomachs now. TV has the ability to corrupt,” he says.
The appearance of various ab machines has also increased the desire to get a flat stomach. In Aiello’s opinion these ‘gimmicks’ are ineffective because while they do give you some resistance, they force you to plateau easily, which does little to build the muscle.
He says that the stomach is the focal point of the body. “You can be a really well built person, but if you don’t have abs your body is really incomplete,” he says.
According to Aiello, resculpting the entire body is necessary to see the ab definition many people desire. He says if there’s fat above the abdominal, the six-pack won’t show through.
“Most people don’t have the time to do that,” he says. “And most people don’t have the eating habits either.”
Aiello points out that only three per cent of the population push themselves enough to gain the benefits of ab resistance training.
“Basically, the key to abs is a solid workout program used in conjunction with a proper diet and consistency,” Aiello says.
Sound easy? Maybe this year the resolution may actually work.