Video games are often accused of spurring the obesity epidemic in America, but their real sin is in reinforcing bad habits. By making slight adjustments to how you game, your digital exploits can reward you with a chiseled midsection to match your character’s new set of top tier gear.
Get in Position
We tend to sit and relax while gaming, giving our core muscles a siesta. Over time, this can cause them to weaken and makes it more difficult to sit properly, creating a feedback loop of poor health. Your standard sitting posture should keep your spine vertically aligned, free of any leaning or dipping that can lead to musculoskeletal pain. If you have had bad posture for a while, you may need to work up to keeping your back straight for a whole gaming session.
Once sitting properly while you raid becomes second nature, mix in periods of leaning back without support until you are holding your torso up at roughly a 45-degree angle. Hold that position as long as you can, which won’t be long until the burn inside your abs gets you grunting. Dipping back into the harder posture during intense game moments can distract you from the struggle and let you hold it longer, but make sure your microphone isn’t broadcasting to your team.
Blitz the Abdominal Field
Even if you’re sitting upright and tight, your abs will need more than that if you want to really transform them. Instead of trying to squeeze out crunches while you’re aiming your rocket launcher, use interval training that incorporates your game performance.
For example, if you’re playing a 20-minute death match, add one sit-ups for a kill and two for a death; knock them all out at the end of the round, then get back to gaming. If you’re an MMO player, then do your workout in between quests or base it off of a metric like your damage per second. Adjust the rate depending on the length of the gaming session and your performance to make sure you’re not slacking.
Special Moves: Exercise Games
By moving the input from your fingers to your body, games become valid exercise tools that you might even find inside a gym. The Xbox One and PS4 both come with cameras that can detect motion, giving new motion games more power to position your body than ever before.
Fitness games guide your body through your choice of exercises, including some abdominal focused routines. Dance games like Just Dance do a better job of masking all that exercise you’re doing, but the motions are more about providing a fun challenge than working any specific muscle groups.
If you’re still using an older console, then hunt for a copy of Dance Dance Revolution. While it doesn’t specifically target the abdominals, the jumps and twists hit both everything from the core down while pushing your heart rate higher. You can find copies of DDR with the special dancing pad at prices much lower than the cost of a new game. If you pick up an extra pad, you can have head-to-head dancing competitions with your friends to motivate everyone into better health with a bit of fun.
These techniques work best if you keep at them, even when you’d rather just lay back and focus on the game. It may feel like your health bar is running empty, but you’ve got what it takes to master both the physical and the digital worlds.