A common problem I see among men (and some women) is that they tend to have very thick and sometimes protruding waists. This is almost an epidemic among heavy powerlifters or prior athletes, especially football players. Often times the problem is not even that they have too much body fat, but that their midsections are simply so strong and muscular that they stick out. This can ruin your physique, and while useful in powerlifting, can cause muscle imbalances that will prevent you from performing activities in which you move your own bodyweight over distance(like basketball, soccer, or gymnastics).
What exercises to limit or avoid altogether to get rid of the “potbelly”
Right off the bat I need to mention squats and deadlifts. Now I`m definitely not against squats or sidebends despite the popular furor in many circles that they automatically create an ugly physique. I think that Deadlifts are awesome and will help you build insane Full body strength, great muscular coordination, and are simply fun to perform. Squats, I really don`t care for as much, but they definitely have their place in your routine. The problem I think is that people tend to get caught up in training specifically for these lifts, instead of using them sparingly as a tool to get in shape. If you`re obsessed with maxing our your deadlift or squat to insane levels, you either have awesome genetics so this won`t apply, or I`m betting your abs are way to bulky and your stomach sticks out. The key is to use these lifts in a limited fashion (i.e. lift moderate to heavy 1-2 times per week and keep the volume very low), and focus the rest of your workout on cardio, cosmetic lifts, or specific sports training. Moderation is key.
Why you shouldn’t be doing weight ab exercises
Two exercises you need to stop doing right now are weighted sidebends, and weighted situps. We used to train these really hard in high school for gymnastics, and I`m still trying to make up for the excessive hypertrophy and size in by abs. Now some people have the genetics that allow them to to whatever they want and maintain a perfect waist, but I`m betting that if you`re reading this that isn`t you. If you are having a problem with protruding abs, I will even go so far as to suggest that you drop all or most direct ab work at this point, particularly if you are an experienced lifter. Honestly, your abs need only a limited amount of direct work when you first start working out, and within a year or so should be developed enough that they will engage whenever you do any exercise or lift. I don`t do any isolated ab work at all and I can hold a perfect L, and do the Iron Cross on the Rings.
A “super secret” bodybuilding technique to shrink your waist
A cool trick that elite bodybuilders use to shrink the size of their waist is called the “stomach vacuum”. Basically you will try to make your abdominal muscles touch the back of your spine through muscle control. Yes, I`m telling you to suck in your gut, so those chubby dudes at the beach were actually on to something. This movement can take sometime to get used to, but once you have mastered it you can visibly and drastically reduce the size and appearance of your waist and abs. This is a great exercise since it can be done almost anywhere and at any time (Just not after a big meal, trust me). After a while, your abs will be “trained” to rest in this partially contracted state which will give a slimmer and more proportional look to your waistline.
Patience and persistence are important
This technique is incredibly effective for shrinking your waistline, but it does take time to get used to. How long exactly is entirely up to you. If you only do this for a few minutes a couple times a week, then expect very slow going and minimal results. Practice every constantly and consistently, and you can see results within weeks or even days!