The Britney Spears Syndrome

I know I have been slacking here, I suck!  But I have made it up to everyone – this post is a very interesting observation that might make you go . . . Hmmmm?!?

This is an excerpt from an article written by Chad Waterbury, he has got a knack for getting technical high-level information across very simply and effectively – he should, I mean he is an actual neuro-physiologist after all! He writes some very effective programs for all kinds of people – His new book HUge in a Hurry is on my queue to read next – so check him when you get a chance!

In this excerpt he speaks about the Britney Spears syndrome, and her abdominal training, and how effective it REALLY was – check it out and learn something!

The Britney Spears Syndrome

Think back to when you first saw Britney Spears. If you’re like me, it was when she tied that Catholic schoolgirl shirt in a come-hither fashion and started shakin’ her moneymaker to Baby One More Time. She was hot, young, and on her way to dominating the pop charts and dominating the fantasies of middle-aged guys around the globe.

Yep, she was perky up top, hard and protruding from behind, and rock hard in the middle. Let me translate that: she had firm boobies, a firm booty, and a slimly sculpted belly.

If you don’t mind staring at the above pictures for a few seconds, I’d like you to pay close attention to her midsection. You’ll notice that she had a very tiny waist.

Now the next part of this article can’t be verified with complete accuracy, but it bears discussion. It can’t be verified because it’s about her training regimen, and I wasn’t her trainer. Moreover, whoever trained her doesn’t really matter either. Why? Because not all celebrities follow their trainer’s advice with precision. If they did, there would be many more sexy, ripped female figures walking around Hollywood. So my point is this: her trainer probably has nothing to do with the next part of my discussion.

It’s been reported that Britney got heavily involved in training when she started approaching the level of über celebrity. That’s good. What I’ve heard around the campfire is that Britney is driven and committed to whatever she puts her mind to. Much like her music career, she put a lot of effort into keeping her body in tip-top shape. (Keep in mind I’m not referring to the Britney of today).

Anyway, I started noticing around 2003 that her physique was really changing. It was evident that she was indeed training, and doing a lot of it. But I could see a transformation taking place that I’ve seen so many times in the past with females. This metamorphosis that I’m referring to was happening directly in her midsection.

Sometime around late 2003 I saw an interview with her sister and, to paraphrase, she said that Britney did something like 1000 crunches every day. Now, as I said, I don’t know if that’s true but I can tell you that it sure looked like it. It appeared that Britney spent a lot of time doing crunches, side bends and the like.

What’s the big deal, you say? The big deal is this: a ton of direct ab work is bad, bad news for a female who’s trying to keep a slim midsection. Here’s a picture that demonstrates my point.

There are two things that should be noted about the above picture. First, she’s not any fatter than she was in the first pictures. In fact, her abs show more definition. Second, and most importantly, she lost virtually all of the hourglass shape that her younger figure exhibited. She’s still carrying very little body fat in this picture, but her waist is much larger than it was early in her career. And I’d be willing to bet a years salary that she wasn’t trying to make her midsection any thicker and wider than it was in the first pictures. But she sure did make it bigger.

When I consult females who’ve been training and want me to take them to the next level, I’ve seen overdeveloped abs and obliques so many times that I’ve lost count. In fact, I’ve seen the disorder so many times that I had to give it a name. I call the female disorder that’s caused by excessive core training The Britney Spears Syndrome.

Females typically perform too much direct ab and oblique work! They’ve fallen victim to the old theory of spot reduction — the idea that working a body part more will result in less fat around that area. My position is that spot reduction probably doesn’t happen, and even if it does happen, it doesn’t matter in the case of Britney. Why? Because any possible loss of body fat around her midsection from doing a zillion crunches and side bends every day will be overshadowed by the increased girth of her core muscles from training with such a high volume and frequency.

In fact, that’s exactly what my High Frequency Training (HFT) philosophy is based on: the more you train a muscle, the bigger it will get. The paradox is that she used a type of HFT plan to make her core muscles smaller, while I preach that HFT is the ultimate way to make your muscles bigger.

But this issue doesn’t end with the above thicker-waist-picture. One of the biggest challenges that a trainer like me faces is when a client inevitably falls off the wagon of fitness and nutrition. A good trainer will keep a celebrity client leaner than she needs to be in order to establish a “buffer zone.” If a female client of mine thinks she looks best with 16% body fat, I’ll keep her at 15%. That’s because with even the most diligent clients, their training and nutrition will waver during vacations, holidays, break-ups, etc.

Now back to Britney. If you’re one who thinks she doesn’t look too bad with the thicker-waist-but-still-lean-physique, then you should think about the buffer zone. Sure, she might not look all that bad with a thicker waist when she’s still lean, but guess what happens when she puts on a little extra fat? You get this:


Now that is some great observation by Coach Waterbury – So many people do not understand this concept when it comes to their weight training, they will do abs until they are blue in the face – literally, and they still expect to see a slimmer waist.

Women train to get a slimmer waist, men train to get more definition in their midsection. However, excessive core training will actually make your waist thicker, the issue in both cases is the fat over the six-pack, not the actual muscle itself.

Once you reach a certain level of leanness then you can work on developing those muscles – but until there is some sort of outline around your abdomen work on your diet, and developing the bigger muscles of your body –

So to answer the inevitable question – “How many times a week should I train abs?”

Answer: “It DEPENDS!” LOL! There is no true definitive answer – however I can say that EXCESSIVE crunches and side bends are definitely not the way to go.

Which one do you think looks better?

Now what is excessive??? Doing thousands of crunches everyday is excessive – come to think of it, doing thousands of anything everyday is excessive! Why should it be different with ab training???

. . .  Hmmmmm??!

Stay strong,


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