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All About Abs – What works, What Doesn’t

We all want rock hard abs and a flatter stomach, and with a good reason – A flat stomach not only looks great; it’s also a boon to your health—especially when compared to abdominal obesity, which is correlated with several health risks. We all seen them advertised on TV – Infomercials full of gadgets and potions that let you slide, swing, roll, and energize your abs into a flawless six pack. But do they really work? Are all these abs-training products and supplements really getting us any closer to the abs of our dreams?

When it comes to training your abs, there is a right way and wrong way to do it. Which ones are you guilty of?

#1: Crunches is not the ONLY answer

Most people think “crunches” when they think about abs training, and although crunches are a great way to target a section of the abs, there are better, more effective ways to workout without straining your neck. The truth is that you can train your abs without ever doing a single crunch. As a matter of fact, planking is a much better exercise that targets your entire core without leaving anything out.

#2: More doesn’t always equals better

Some people are under the impression that doing 500 crunches a day will help them achieve the golden goal by targeting a specific spot – at this case the stomach – which will reduce fat from their belly and reveal a beautiful and sculpted mid section. That is a myth. In fact, if you are doing your exercises correctly, 3-4 sets of 8-15 repetitions are all that you need to target those muscles and get results.

#3 Dump the Abs Routine

Do you have an abs routine? Don’t. Doing the same exercises each time you work your abs will only get you so far. Your abs routine will become, well, routine, and you won’t be challenging your muscles anymore. Change up your workouts and mix up your exercises regularly. Keep your muscles guessing at all times.

#4 Not Focusing on Form

If you’re doing an abdominal exercise and you’re not really feeling it, I’m going to tell you a cold, hard truth: It’s probably not because you’re super strong and fit. More likely, you’re not doing it properly. The key to really working your abs is to focus on your form, by deeply engaging your abs throughout each movement.  Engage your core muscles next time and you’ll notice the difference.

#5 Believing in Belly Fat Burners

Can specific foods, nutrients, diet pills or supplements really target belly fat and help you melt it away? Probably not. There is some research to show that certain nutrients may help people lose more belly fat, but most of this “research” is sketchy at best—poorly controlled, poorly designed, and not well replicated. It’d be nice to think that you could just eat an exotic berry or pepper—or pop a pill that contains them—and melt away the inches from your waist, but don’t fall for this hype. The person telling you that any food or product can burn fat from your belly has one goal in mind: selling you something. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

#6 Neglecting the Rest of Your Core

The rectus abdominis (or abs, for short) run down the front of the torso, from the center of the ribcage to the pubic bone. These are the main muscles that work when you do any sort of “crunching” motion (spinal flexion). But your torso also extends, bends and rotates—and all of those motions should be part of your abs training repertoire. Your obliques (which run diagonally across your middle) active during laterally flexion and rotation; the transverse abdominis (a long muscle that runs horizontally beneath the rectus abdominis) acts like a brace during plank-style exercises and is highly targeted during Pilates; and your back (erector spinae muscles along the spine) is the primary mover during spinal extension, which most people don’t do enough of. A good rule of thumb is that every time you train your abs, you should also target the obliques and lower back as well.

#7 Using Abs Training Gizmos

Every year, a new gadget that “helps you achieve” a perfect six pack hits the market and sells millions. Machines that swing, roll, rock, shake, slide, and make abs training look oh so easy! Although these machines can give you a nice little workout, they will not make you look like the people in the commercial. All you got to do is maintain a proper diet, do some high intensity interval training, along with proper abs training, none of which require any magical abs making gadgets.


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