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pulling in stomach is uncomfortable

By April 23, 2009 - 12:07pm
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when i exercise to my dvd's they alway's tell you to pull in your stomach. i try but it's hard for me. is that because i have to much fat there? i weight about 166. plus i can't breath when i do that. do i really have to do that to get result's??

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EmpowHER Guest

There are some great posts here and I have another suggestion to try and strengthen those ab muscles to help have them engaged. You can just lie on the floor and make sure your back is completely flat on the floor. This is pretty simple and engages your abs. This will also make you more comfortable engaging your abs in all your exercises.

Your abs are your core and everything that you do revolves around your abs. If you are wanting to lose that mid section, any ab engagement will strengthen your entire body.

I hope this helps.

April 26, 2009 - 8:57am

Hi, franinfl:

I run distances with my abs engaged. Here's how I learned how to engage my core:

The muscles surrounding your abs form a sort of box. First, see if you can pull the top and bottom of the box together. Then, focus on pulling together the side muscles. Once you have completely formed the box, hold it for a count of 5. Repeat this about 5 times. Eventually, you should be able to hold your box together for at least a count of 10 and be able to breathe through it. You need to breathe softly and into your diaphragm.

Now, when you exercise, say when you walk, engage your abs. If your middle hurts after a 10-20-minute walk, that's a good thing.

I'm not going to say this is easy, but it is doable. And, don't worry about the flab around your middle, your abs are under there! I'm not exactly as svelt as I used to be half my age ago, either.

Hope this helps!

April 23, 2009 - 4:57pm

Hi franinfl,

Interesting question!

From my personal experience, when the exercise instructors tell you to tighten your stomach, they are just wanting to make sure your core is engaged. I believe this is to help support your back during movements, and also to add stability to your entire body.

I would not pull in your stomach so much that it is uncomfortable. Perhaps if you just think about "engaging your core" or "slightly tighten your belly button toward your spine" instead of pulling in your stomach, you may feel better.

In pilates and yoga, the breathing technique is important; they actually teach you how to breath. You may want to try a few of those classes with an instructor, as the exercise DVDs are made for the masses and are not geared toward a specific population typically. An instructor can help you feel comfortable with some of the moves and breathing techniques, then you could resume your workouts at home. Just one idea for you.

As far as breathing, you want your core to feel like your muscles are working ("engaged"), but not tight or pulling. You should be able to breath in through your nose, and feel your rib cage expand in front and back, and your belly button will also expand slightly. You will not be able to pull in your stomach the entire time you are inhaling or exhaling; that would hurt!

What type of exercise DVD are you doing? Cardio, strength training, pilates, yoga or something else?

April 23, 2009 - 2:32pm
(reply to Alison Beaver)

Hi Alison,
guess i was doing it all wrong. i workout with alot of weight's. yoga, cardio. i do it all. when they tell you to pull your abs in i was thinking you REALLY had to. loseing weight is so hard to do i just wanted to get it right and not to hurt anything,so i made sure i really pulled my abs in,but thank you for clearing that up for me.

April 23, 2009 - 6:42pm
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