This Viral TikTok Ab Dance Work May Be Dangerous

Is this viral ab dance the secret to a strong core?

If you've ever been to a Zumba class or attended a wedding, you know dancing is a great way to get your lungs working and your heart beating. 

So, hearing a specific TikTok dance has gone viral for reportedly helping people lose weight probably isn't too much of a surprise. But the dance in question isn't some elaborately choreographed routine, and its "benefits" are vastly overstated.

The dance is just the act of thrusting your hips back and forth, in a crunch-like motion, to the beat of the music. One overarching theme of the exercise movement is that you can tone and train specific body parts, sidestepping others.

Here's what you should know about whether the viral dance can help strengthen your core and shed excess weight and other ways to exercise healthily and lose weight.

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Should You Try the TikTok Ab Dance?

So, can the dance help shape abdominal muscles? Unfortunately, no.

The idea behind the move is called "spot reduction," Doug Sklar, CPT, a personal trainer and founder of New York-based fitness training studio PhilanthroFIT, told Health. The move "has been debunked ad nauseam." Overall, the idea that any particular exercise can remove body fat from a specific area is bogus, added Sklar.

Dancing To Shape Your Abdominal Muscles

In particular, the ad dance is probably not even going to work your abs much. 

There is not really much going on here," Albert Matheny, RD, CSCS, co-founder of SoHo Strength Lab, told Health. "This is not very impactful on your muscles."

"I would not consider this a strong movement for abdominal work," added Sklar. "This particular move appears to be more of a pelvic tilt without significant abdominal engagement."

However, how much you'd get in the way of results depends on your current level of exercise. 

"If you currently exercise regularly at a moderate to high intensity, this isn't going to do very much for you," said Sklar. "If you are just coming off the couch or limited in mobility, there is always a benefit to moving safely." 

The ab dance is "mainly just a waste of time," noted Matheny. And the move can even lead to injury. "You could hurt or sprain your lower back if you are jerking your pelvis around," added Matheny.

How To Work Your Abs

If you want to get strong abs and lose weight, deadlifts, pull-ups, and squats may help, recommended Sklar. Those exercises are compound movements, which work several groups of muscles at once.

Specifically, to work your abs, planks, or "any exercise where your abs are bracing under some significant load" would help, said Matheny. "Muscle responds to appropriate stimulus by getting stronger which, if you are 'working,' your abs, that is what you are looking for."

In one study published in 2014 by the American Council of Exercise, researchers looked at 16 healthy adults. They found that no exercises elicit a greater muscle activation than the traditional crunch.

And whenever you work your core, you'll get a stronger abdomen by doing the following:

  • Move from your waist: Make sure the movement happens from your bottom rib up whenever you twist. Be sure to keep your hips still.
  • Tighten up: Throughout each move, you should feel a tightening—similar to zipping up a pair of tight jeans—from one hip bone to the other.
  • Exhale deeply: To help strengthen your abs and protect your lower back, exhale thoroughly with every breath.

Overall, losing weight and getting firmer abs comes down to eating well and doing strength training—not moving your pelvis. 

"It's best to perform a comprehensive, full-body strength-training program, complemented by healthy eating habits, to truly achieve fitness success," said Sklar.

A Quick Review

TikTok dance trends may catch a lot of people's attention. But they're not always backed by research. In the case of the ab dance, experts agreed that the move amounts to little more than pelvic thrusts. 

Instead, to build strong abs, stick to proven exercises, like planks and crunches, and healthy eating to meet your goal.

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  1. American Council of Exercise. Abs! Abs! Abs!.

  2. American Council on Exercise. 4 core movements for beginners.

  3. American Council on Exercise. Core training: Don’t forget the diaphragm.

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