Have you been trying to target your abs with “belly-fat blasting moves,” but see no visible difference? You’re not alone. We gathered data from personal trainers, fitness enthusiasts and physiologists to discover some of the biggest myths surrounded ab workouts.
Find out why some of these tummy toning moves are totally overrated.
Crunches – countless crunches – are many people’s go-to abdominal exercise for trimming down their midsection. But doing 1,000 crunches is not only boring, it’s not very effective or efficient. If you really want to work your core, try planking. Planks not only strengthen your abs, they also build up strength in the muscles that support your abs such as your back. Better yet, incorporate full-body exercises and compound movements to strengthen and tone your core more efficiently.
Many of us remember the dreaded sit-up test in gym class when we were in school. One person would hold our feet while we did as many sit-ups as possible while being timed. For one thing, doing sit-ups in this manner barely works your abs at all. Raising your body to where your chin touches your knees wastes a lot of energy. A more effective “sit-up,” if you’re deadset on doing them, is to raise your body only halfway to your knee, pulsate a few times, and then very slowly, in a controlled manner, lower back down. The more slow and controlled your movements are, the better your chances are of actually working your abdominal muscle groups.
3. Spot Reducing In General
Go to any gym and you will see people doing endless variations of crunches, twists and ab moves on the floor. The idea, of course, is that if you work the muscle groups in your abs, you’ll lose the fat there. This is simply not true. Working the muscles where you have fat will develop the muscle, certainly, but the only way to get rid of fat is by being in a caloric deficit. This simply means burning off more calories than you consume. Spot fat reduction is a myth, and is one of the most common and misleading ab exercises out there.
4. Daily Ab Work
If you’re doing ab work every single day, you’re actually doing unnecessary workouts. For truly strong and chiseled abs, working on an ab specific exercises two to three times per week is plenty. If you want to burn more fat off of your waist, add in HIIT exercises and compound movements into your routine. You’ll use all of the musculature in your abs, back and legs which will burn more fat and leave you looking lighter and more trim.
We’ve all seen the infomercials on gadgets that promise easy and effective abdominal workouts. Make no mistake; these gadgets do not work. While electric currents do have a place in certain physical therapy treatments, it in no way will it ever develop your ab muscles to the point that you’re “ripped!” If someone is offering you perfect abs without doing any work, that’s a red flag.
Part of the myth surrounding abdominal workouts is that you can target fat around your waist by doing more ab work. The truth to this is that if you reduce your caloric intake to be less than the calories you burn, you’ll see a reduction in fat from all over your body, including your middle. If you do 1,000 crunches per week but consume more calories than you need, you won’t lose any fat on your abdominals or anywhere else.
“A lean midsection comes down to diet, not core exercises,” says London trainer Steve Mellor. “My take-home advice for clients who aren’t professional athletes is that core work should be supplementary exercise that is important but only one piece of a big puzzle. They should not be obsessed by it.”
Bottom line? Work smarter, not harder. Focus on eating a clean diet and improving your overall strength and fitness, and you’ll have a flatter tummy and stronger core as a result.