Q: I would do almost anything to get a nice six-pack. Can you give me some tips and hints?
A: Absolutely! Not everyone has this particular goal, but the ones who do seem to be very passionate about it. First of all, you have to do some serious core work, focusing on the abdominals, obliques and low back area. In doing this, most people make one of two mistakes. The first mistake is working these muscles too many days of the week. Some think you need to do abs almost every day, but you wouldn’t do this for chest, back and legs, so why would you do it for your abdominals?
The other common problem is that people don’t push themselves when doing core work. I’ve seen plenty of people stop their set right when they start to feel the “burn.” Others may only use their body weight, never thinking that weights might actually challenge them even more. Remember, the harder you work your abdominals, the less you’ll have to do them — and you’ll get better results. Aside from strength training, the other key components to getting a firm, lean mid-section include cardiovascular exercise and, of course, proper diet. You should try to do cardio five to six days per week, especially if you have some extra flab to lose, and try to follow a well-balanced, calorie-controlled diet. If you have more specific questions, be sure to schedule a meeting with a trainer at your local Anytime Fitness.
Q: Can you tell me the main difference between whole grains and refined grains? What are we really talking about here?
A: The main difference between whole grains and refined grains is the way in which they’re processed. During milling, whole grains are often stripped of their bran and germ in an effort to make them easier to cook with. The bran is the protective outer layer of the seed, which contains B vitamins, antioxidants and fiber, and the germ is the “embryo” of the seed, which contains even more B vitamins, some minerals, healthy fats and protein. When these are removed, the endosperm is all that is left, which is primarily just starch. Despite being enriched with some vitamins and minerals, these refined grains lack much of their original nutritional value. In an effort to provide healthier options, more and more companies are pulverizing the entire grain, resulting in what we call whole grain products. These are healthier for you, but you have to be a savvy shopper. Look for whole grains on the food label —ideally, they should appear at the beginning of the ingredient list.
Information provided by Chris Palso, owner, Anytime Fitness, West Des Moines, 225-3224, www.anytimefitness.com.