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The reason you have a ‘pooch’

Exercise: Simple steps to cure that annoying tummy bulge

Posted: May 6, 2010 7:06 p.m.
Updated: May 7, 2010 4:55 a.m.

This stretch can help eliminate your "pooch," which can result from too much sitting. Adding a few simple exercises to your daily routine will eliminate your "pooch" by summer.

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Working hard, but you just can’t lose that stubborn fat on your tummy? Doing lots of crunches and endless hours on the treadmill to try to get rid of it, but the muffin top won’t budge?

Here’s a little secret: When you sit all day — as almost all of us do — your butt muscles turn off, your hip flexors (the muscles on the front of your hips) get short and your abdominal muscles stop working.

You might have heard the song lyrics, “your hip bone is connected to your thigh bone, your thigh bone is connected to your.” This is where it all starts.

Sitting causes your hip bone (pelvis) to tilt forward which puts stress on your back causing, yes, lower back pain, but it also pushes your belly out.

You can be adding to this scenario with exercises like crunches and running on the treadmill creating shorter and shorter hip flexors.

So you look like you have a gut, even if you don’t have an ounce of fat.

This is also the case if you are spending a lot of time in spinning classes, which are a huge culprit for tightening the hip flexors and creating this pooch.

Look at yourself side ways in the mirror:

Do the top of your hips tilt forward making your posture look like a duck, creating a pooch?

This is because your pelvis is being pulled forward by your hip flexors and your core and glutes are not working to flatten out your center.

Or are your hips underneath your center with a flat tummy?

By adding a few moves to your routine you can flatten out your pooch without doing a single crunch.

The key is to stretch the muscles on the front of your hips, switch on your butt and get your core engaged to get your hips in the center giving you a flat tummy.

Think about squeezing your butt and drawing in your belly button making your hips less “duck-like” flattening your stomach.

Forget crunches and hours and hours on treadmill, instead perform these three exercises as part of your regular exercise routine and your pooch will be flat before summer.

Hip Flexor Stretch — This stretch will lengthen the muscles on the front of your hips which tighten up from sitting, doing crunches or spending too much time on a spin bike or treadmill.

Doing this stretch as part of your regular routine will loosen those muscles off putting your hips in a neutral position giving you a flat tummy.

Position: Place your back foot on a step or the couch and lower yourself as if into a lung, but lower all the way down until your back knee rests on the floor.

Movement: Push your hips forward, stretching out the hip flexor in the back.

To increase the stretch raise your arm over head. Hold the stretch for 30-60 seconds on each leg.

Hip Extension — with this move, you’ll get an active stretch of your hip flexors, engage your core and switch on your butt muscles, which will lead to your hips getting into the right position and  flattening out your pooch.

Position: Lie on your back on the ground, arms outstretched at 90 degrees from the body.

Bend one knee so the foot is flat on the floor, as it would be in a sit-up.

Movement: Keeping the other leg straight and in line with the trunk at all times, drive down with the bent knee foot, causing the body to lift.

The top of the movement is when the straight leg is in line with the thigh of the bent knee, which is about a 45-degree position.

Make sure the body is straight at this point, and both hips are even.

Perform eight to 10 repetitions on each leg.

Split Squat —  This is a modified version of a lunge.

By having your back leg up on a bench you are adding in an active stretch of the hip flexors, while you are working your legs, burning calories and achieving a flat belly.

Position: Standing facing away from a bench. You can hold dumbbells as you get stronger.

Place your left foot on a bench behind you. Keeping your torso upright, lower yourself into a lunge or split squat.

Your weight should be on your front right leg. Keep your core tight.

You should feel a stretch in your back leg as you lower.

Return to the start position and repeat.

Perform eight to 10 repetitions, and then switch legs.

Add these simple exercises to your daily routine for a “pooch-less” future.

Rachel Cosgrove is the author of “The Female Body Breakthrough” (www.thefemalebodybreakthrough.com) and co-owner of Results
Fitness (www.results-fitness.com). For more information, call (661) 799-7900.

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