This article will hopefully give you an insight into some of the most common myths about abdominal training. Getting a ripped abdominal six pack is something that most people strive for but find it hard to achieve. The best bit of advice you will ever get when it comes to six pack abs is that “abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym”. Your abs will only be visible if you follow a good diet and have very low body fat. If you live off junk food then forget about getting a six pack because it won’t happen no matter how much training you do. Stripping away fat around your mid section should always be your first priority if a head turning six pack is what you’re after and simply doing more abdominal exercises won’t necessarily help you get the six-pack you want. This is our definitive guide to the most common abdominal training myths.
Crunches are the key to a six pack
This is a big myth about getting a ripped midsection. The next time you see someone who is overweight training their abs, take a moment to think about what they are doing and why they are wasting their time. No matter how big or strong their abs are, you will never be able to see them because there is too much body fat covering them up. Have you ever seen a fat person with abs? Of course not. Abs are only visible when you have a low level of body fat and this can only be achieved through proper diet, weight training and cardiovascular exercise. We all have abs but they only become visible when we have a body fat level of less then 10%. Have you ever noticed you can see some people’s abs even though they never train them? This is because if you have a low body fat level then you will have abs, plain and simple. If you have over 10% body fat you can forget about doing endless crunches because there is a big layer of fat covering your abs so you will never see them no matter what you do.
I should train my abs every day
Your abdominals are a muscle and, like any other muscle, training them every day is really stupid and will get you nowhere fast. Your muscles grow when they are at rest, not when you are working them. If you train your abs every day then they will never have a chance to recover and grow stronger. This idea applies to all the muscles in your body. No one in their right mind would train the same muscles two days in a row and your abs are no different. Ideally you want to train your abs no more than three times a week for maximum results and only twice if you are doing things properly. Make sure you train them hard and with intensity for no more than fifteen minutes. If you can, try to add resistance with weight to your abdominal exercises to make them stronger.
I need to do hundreds of crunches
If you are doing a hundred reps of any exercise you should seriously ask yourself this question: “why the hell can I do so many reps?” The simple answer is that the exercise you are doing is far too easy and it is not challenging your muscles at all. You will often see people doing hundreds of sit ups and crunches in your local gym and they wonder why they don’t get stronger abs. All muscles grow when you apply adequate resistance to them and this means you shouldn’t be able to complete more than 12-15 reps of any exercise. Would you do 100 arm curls weight a feather weight or 10 brutal reps with a heavy weight? Obviously you shouldn’t be able to perform much more than about 10 reps of any exercise if muscle growth is what you are looking for. Abs are just the same as all other muscles and should be trained with heavy resistance and between 10 and 15 reps. If you can do a hundred reps of any exercise you are wasting your time because you are not using enough weight for you to build muscle. If you find that you can do more than 20 reps of any abdominal exercise then there is either not enough resistance or, more likely, you are doing the exercise wrong. The key to muscle growth is to overload the muscle so that you fail at about 10 or 15 reps.
Ab exercises will help me lose fat
This idea is complete rubbish but a surprising number of people actually think that doing crunches is going to help them get leaner. In order to lose fat around your mid section you need to do create a slight calorie deficit by eating good food and exercising regularly. You cannot spot reduce fat (i.e. you can’t choose where your body loses fat from.)
Crunches are all I need
Properly executed crunches are a great exercise for your abdominals but if you really want to get good results you should target the abdominal muscles with a variety of exercises. Hanging leg raises, reverse crunches and weighted crunches are other exercises you should add to your abdominal training workouts. As well as focusing on small isolation exercises, you should try and do a lot of big compound lifts at the gym. I promise you that heavy deadlifts and front squats will kill your abdominals better than almost anything else and they have the added advantage of working all the other muscles in your body at the same time. Some bodybuilders do very little abdominal training at all because the compound exercises they do work their abs anyway.
So there you have it, the most common six pack myths. Don’t waste your life training your abs day in and day out with pointless exercises. The real key to getting a defined midsection is to get your body fat level down below 10% and to work on challenging exercises that fatigue your abdominal muscles no more than three times a week. A stronger core will be a great help to you and improve your ability to perform any exercise.