Effective or not?
Tummy, hip and thigh classes are second to the longest running group exercise modality – aerobics, which was initially conceived by Dr. Kenneth Cooper in the late 1960's. This group exercise format has outlived most other programs due to its popularity with women, whose general public belief is that it will burn fat in 'those problem areas'. It is well known in the fitness industry that this is not a possibility, yet the classes maintain a strong attendance and always make a 'come back' to time tables that may have discarded it in preference to more challenging and current programming.
The humble tummy, hip and thigh class has to defend it's self against several issues other than perceived ineffectiveness. Lack of variety, lower heart rates and minimal upper body conditioning are the main concerns. Traditionally, the class format included a low impact warm up followed by stationary standing exercises that eventually led to exercises on the floor that culminated with a stretch. It would also include exercises that would require several repetitions before the specific muscle group would feel fatigue. This obviously had little appeal to those who wanted to get 'sweaty' during a class.
So how is it possible to elevate heart rate, include core exercises and upper body movement and effectively work the tummy, hip and thigh areas with the current educated methodology of the importance muscle fatigue within an appropriate repetition range?
The key factor is movement. Combining upper body exercises whilst performing conventional tummy, hip and thigh exercises, will also challenge the core muscles. Movement in more than one plane – saggital, frontal and transverse, will also increase the functionality of the exercises.
The tummy, hip and thigh class also provides the opportunity to include balance and stability training. The key is to consider what positions that the body feels most unstable. This is most effectively performed when the body is in an upright position and the feet are either close together or one foot is off the floor. Add momentum with either the upper or lower body, the participant will experience the required instability to encourage use of local and core muscles.
Once the body starts moving, heart rate will also rise. If large muscle groups are activated as in an alternating lunge, energy expenditure also increases.
Add a little weight
Ever wondered if there were any exercises that could use a really light weight effectively? When performing exercises that use multi planner movement, a light weight is useful with adding an appropriate amount of resistance to challenge the upper body whilst adding a controlled level of momentum so that the core muscles are activated.
Exercises like figure 8's are excellent in exploring a range of movement that is more functional than the conventional bicep curl or shoulder press as it incorporates the rotator culf and intrinsic muscles that assist with joint stability and mobility. Movements like these do not need a heavier weight to create fatigue in the upper body.
In fact, it is not recommended that a heavier weight be used as it will generate too much momentum resulting in poor control and technique.