November 7, 2011

Don't "Waist" Your Time with Dumbbell Side Bends

The dumbbell side bend is an extremely popular but ineffective exercise meant to target the waist.  Side bends are performed standing, by holding a weight in each hand and leaning sideways.  This is a useless exercise for several reasons:
1. You cannot spot reduce.  The only way to lose inches from the midsection is to lose body fat through a combination of diet and exercise. 
2. Many experts question the safety of repetitive lateral spinal flexion.  Bad form can also make this a high-risk exercise; it is often done with locked knees, which puts stress on the spine.
3. The mechanics of the movement make it a waste of time.  If you are holding two weights, when you lean to the right side, the weight in the left hand will help you get back up.

If you insist on keeping this exercise in your routine, you can make it more effective by just using one dumbbell.  Make it even harder by balancing on one foot.  For more effective and safe abdominal exercises, see posts from Nov. 2010.

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