A dance that doubles as a great ab exercise is currently taking TikTok by storm. The newest trend is the “ab dance” challenge, which promises to help users lose belly fat by dancing. Some TikTokers swear by the positive results they’ve seen, but not all health professionals think the rhythmic exercise is completely safe.
The move itself consists of swinging one’s pelvis back and forth in short, rapid movements while twisting the hips from side to side. According to TikTok user @Janny14906 — who Cosmopolitan credits with the dance’s recent popularity — the move has the power to burn belly fat, with results in as little as a month.
Janny’s TikTok account has been posting fitness-oriented clips since March, with many demonstrating the ab dance. The caption “As long as you enjoy the skinny come together” accompanies the majority of the user’s recent posts.
Ab dance clips have since taken over fitness TikTok, with examples popping up on hashtags including #abs and #dancing. One user has even made a 30-day challenge out of the dance move.
“I enjoy doing the dance because it is fun and easy,” Carline Marques Lauriano told NBC Today. “You are having fun and losing weight at the same time.”
Lauriano said she did the ab dance every day for 20-30 minutes for the challenge. After 30 days, she says she lost 18 pounds.
“I do 10 minutes in the morning then 10 before bed,” she said. “I do it during the day in between… You can literally do it whenever you want, you can be cooking or doing laundry, all you have to be doing is standing and make sure you move your abs.”
While users like Lauriano swear by the ab dance’s effectiveness, some health professionals are worried that it could lead TikTokers to hurt themselves.
“This particular move can cause significant lower back pain and injury if done improperly,” dietician and personal trainer Stefani Sassos told Good Housekeeping.
Sassos compared the exercise to “spot reduction,” or the idea that exercising a certain body part will eliminate fat in that specific area. According to her, that’s not the case.
“Hyper-focusing on these small muscles while neglecting the rest of the body, as well as a comprehensive training program, only increases your risk for injury in the long run,” said Sassos.
Personal trainer Sohee Lee agreed, while also questioning Janny’s broader fitness advice to TikTokers.
“This person is promoting this exercise as what to do if you want to get skinny,” Lee told Insider. “She also has other posts where she says multiple times, ‘Exercise for an hour a day and eat whatever you want,’ which of course is completely incorrect, and this kind of advice is exactly what gets people into a lot of trouble where they go for a run then eat their faces off and end up gaining a bunch of weight.”
Still, some experts argue that the ab dance is safe as long as it’s done carefully and responsibly.
“This is actually an effective move to tone your core — but only if performed correctly!” personal trainer and weight-loss coach Stephanie Mansour told Today. “Essentially it’s like a standing pelvic tilt, which engages your low abs and muscles of the low back in the forward motion, and releases them on the backwards motion. By tilting the pelvis forward and backwards, your core must kick on in order to control this movement.”
Sports medicine specialist Dr. Dennis Cardone echoed these sentiments, noting that while doing too much too soon could be dangerous, the move could have its benefits.
“It is low impact and it works the core and abdominal muscles,” Cardone said, recommending a slow start and gradually increasing intensity to avoid injury.