Renate Engelbrecht
Content producer
3 minute read
19 Jul 2021
3:46 pm

How safe is the viral TikTok ab dance everyone is talking about?

Renate Engelbrecht

An ab dance said to promote weight-loss and toning has gone viral, but experts warn against its physical and psychological effects.

Experts warn against TikTok's ab dance craze. Picture: iStock

The ab dance challenge that has been doing the rounds on TikTok has caused a lot of controversy, with people dubbing it the next best thing to toning and weight-loss, while experts have a couple of contradicting comments when it comes to the safety of the at-home fitness fad.

TikTok has become the breeding ground for questionable weight-loss exercises and challenges, which might highlight problems with how the platform operates as it allows these questionable weight-loss tactics to go viral. Fad weight-loss techniques have various physical and psychological effects and experts are increasingly warning the general public against these tactics.

Popularised by TikTok user, @janny14906 the weight-loss dance has taken the world by storm while her profile is rather misleading with limited information on her fitness credentials, medically inaccurate claims and offensive captions. In previous posts, @janny14906 said: “Exercise for an hour a day and eat whatever you want,” which is the kind of advice that might just make you question her credibility.

Still, videos of people doing the ab dance have been popping up on social media, claiming that the rather amusing movement works for weight loss.

How does it work?

The ab dance is a standing abdominal exercise, requiring you to tilt your pelvis back and forth while slightly bending your knees, swinging your arms and crunching your abs.

What do experts say?

Personal trainer Suret Alive says you can easily hurt yourself – especially if you do the exercise for the suggested five minutes. “The movement places a lot of stress on the lower back, hips and pelvis. It is actually just a cardio movement that doesn’t build any muscle.” She says that it might burn some fat, but it won’t bring about any muscle strength. “Therefore, it is a short-term solution for weight loss or fitness.”

Doug Sklar, personal trainer and founder of the New York City-based PhilanthroFIT, says he would rank the ab dance low on his list. SoHo Strength Lab’s Albert Matheny says the ab dance won’t have much of an impact on your muscles.

Suret says that if you are adamant to try the exercise, rolling your thighs out with a foam roller afterwards might prevent back aches.

READ: All your Covid-19 vaccine questions answered here

Alternatives for the ab dance

Suret Alive suggests that people rather opt for the following exercises to replace the ab dance:

• A quick jog or walking at a fast pace for cardio benefits.
• Cat stretches with deep breathing to allow movement in the lower back and pelvis. Work the deep core through breathing techniques.

She says a mother who just gave birth will benefit much more from deep breath work that will strengthen her core and protect the pelvic floor.

Many experts have been highlighting the fact that a healthy diet is more important than exercise and that targeting one body part to lose weight as with the viral TikTok ab dance, is ineffective.