Fitness Q&A: Challenge your abs to keep them in shape

Fitness expert, Namita Jain answers readers’ questions on fitness. Get your doubts cleared and see them featured on our FAQ page every Thursday.

1. I have a query on weight loss. Is it good to take lime and honey with warm water on empty stomach. Will it be safe? Because heard that they mix sugar or jaggery syrup to honey. Also, can we consume tea or coffee after taking lime juice? Please confirm.
Manjula Mukund

Lime and honey with warm water can stimulate bowel movement and therefore may prevent constipation. Make sure the brand of honey you purchase is of good quality (to avoid the fear of any addition of sugar or jaggery). It is advisable to wait for at least 30 minutes before consuming tea or coffee. However, the best way to lose weight is to exercise regularly and eat meals that are healthy, and low in fat and sugar.

2. Hi.I was 50 kg 5 yrs back when i got married.After marriage,I gained weight very rapidly about 12 kg in a year.Since then I have tried practically everything to lose weight including taking low calorie,high protein diet coupled with gym and cardio ,various medicines without any effect.I currently weigh 67 kg and want to get pregnant.I am a vegeterian and I have calculated that my calorie intake is about 1600 cal.I have got so frustrated with the difficulty in losing weight that now i am not doing any exercise regularly.Recently I read your book and you are my last hope.Please tell me which exercises are safe during pregnancy and what kind of diet to follow.Thank you.

I suggest you walk briskly for 1 hour everyday. Follow a low-fat nutritious diet plan, eat at regular intervals and drink 8 to 10 glasses of water daily. And you are bound to get results.

3. What is the healthy right nutrition?
Raj Dua

Cereals, protein-rich foods, fruits and vegetables, and fats and sugar are the 4 essential food groups for a healthy diet. The 4 food groups ensure a balanced, wholesome diet for you. You only understand how vital a balanced diet is, when some nutritional components are missing, or in short supply, such as baggy eyes, split nails, poor skin, falling hair, fatigue, nausea and nutritional deficiencies.

4. Is there any yoga asan I can do to help quit smoking?

There is no particular asana that helps quit smoking… however, I suggest that you walk regularly and do yoga asanas to help you feel strong and fit.

5. What are the exercises to keep the lower body in shape?

Five great moves to shape the lower body

The goal of this workout is to tone the lower body.

1. Calf lifts

Stand with your heels off the edge of a step or a bench. Now, slowly raise yourself up on your toes (tensing your calf muscle) and then lower down.

Do 2 sets of 12 repetitions.

2. Squats

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent; and hold dumbbells in your hands. Keep your back in a neutral position and bend your knees to about 90-degrees, make sure your knees do not go over your toes. Return to starting position.

Do 2 sets of 12 repetitions.

3. Power Lunge

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold dumbbells in each hand, bring one foot forward. Make sure that when go into this lunge position, both your knees are bent in line with your ankles. Return to starting position and switch legs.

Do 2 sets of 12 repetitions.

4. Butt Bridge

Lie on your back with feet on the floor, and your knees bent shoulder-width apart. Raise your pelvis and squeeze your hips as you lift up. Slowly return to starting position.

Do 2 sets of 12 repetitions.

5. Wall sit

Press your back against a wall and squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor.  Hold for a count of 50 and return to starting position.

6. I read you are a kick-boxing coach also. Could you please share some tips


Kickboxing is an integrated program that is designed to train mind as well as body. Focus is required on where and how to kick a leg and throw a punch. Learning new moves, correct technique and combinations requires concentration and skill. You could expend an average of 10-12 calories per minute for a 55-60 kg person. A high-intensity cardio kickboxing routine can burn from anywhere up to 500 to 700-calories an hour.

Do it right!

Don’t lock your joints when throwing punches or kicking in a martial arts inspired workout. There is a significant chance of injury if you compromise on technique.

Athletic shoes

Good quality shoes are a must for this kind of exercise routine, especially when kicking the bags or doing cardio drills and aerobic moves.

Basic punches

Jab: works the shoulder, chest and arms

From the ready stance, extend one arm and punch forward with your fist, then quickly bring the arm back to start position.

Uppercut: works the shoulder, back and waist

From the ready stance, take one leg back, bend the elbow of the punch arm, quickly take the arm backward and then forward punching in front with your fist, palm facing up. Your torso rotates slightly during this movement. Then quickly take the arm back again.

Basic kicks

Front snap: works front and back of the thighs and glutes/hips

From the ready stance, bend at the hip and knee; extend the knee in a thrusting motion and then return to start position.

Sidekick: works the outer thigh, and back of the thighs and glutes/hips

From the ready stance, abduct (lift laterally) the hip while it flexes slightly with knee bent, then extend the knee in a thrusting motion and return to start position.

Back kick: works the back of the thighs and glutes/hips

From the ready stance, bend at the hip and knee; extend the leg backwards in a thrusting motion and then return to start position.

Roundhouse: works the outer thigh, and back of the thighs and glutes/hips

From the ready stance, abduct (lift laterally) the hip while it flexes slightly with knee bent, then quickly extend the knee forward pivoting in a circular motion. Unlike the side kick which attacks the target sideways, the roundhouse is a frontal assault with the forefoot.

7. Please recommend some abs specific exercises that can be done at home

The abdominal exercise routine

Abdominal crunch

Lie on your back with your knees bent, and your hands behind your head. Lift your shoulders off the floor and curl your legs towards your ribcage; simultaneously. Slowly, return to starting position.

Do 2 sets of 12 reps.

Reverse curl

Lie on your back and lift and bend your knees at 90-degrees. Contract your abs to stabilize your torso, and bring your hips and knees towards your chest. Slowly return to starting position.

Do 2 sets of 12 reps.

Oblique scissors

Lie on your back with legs extended and arms behind your head to support your neck. Contract abs and lift shoulders off the floor. Use your oblique muscles by attempting to bring the left shoulder towards the right knee and the right shoulder toward the left knee. The right and left leg accounts for one rep.

Do 2 sets of 12 reps.

Back extension

Lie on your stomach and place your hands on your lower back. Lift your upper body off the floor; keep your eyes on the floor and your chin in a relaxed position. Slowly return to starting position.

Do 1 set of 10 reps.

8. I do cardio training 20-30 minutes 2-3 times a week. Will it help me have a flat tummy?


The three important aspects for fat abs are

1. Train your abdominal muscles, hard and smart.

Constantly challenge your abdominal by varying your workouts.

2. Evaluate your eating habits.

Incorporate a diet that is healthy, well balanced and low in fat. There is no getting away from the fact that food you eat plays a vital role in defining your mid-section.

3. Incorporate cardio training (atleast 30 to 45 minutes) to burn calories.

Unless you burn fat, your toned abdominal will remain hidden underneath a layer of fat. That is why burning calories is an integral aspect of abdominal training.

Namita is a Clinical Exercise Specialist and Lifestyle & Weight Management Consultant. She is currently attached to Bombay Hospital as their clinical and wellness specialist.

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