It doesn’t matter if you want to build muscle, lose fat, or boost your strength, we can all agree on one thing: six pack abs.
No matter your fitness goal, attaining that lean and defined set of abdominals is something we all want to make happen in 2017. The problem is the misinformation that you’ll find spread across the search result pages of Google. Let’s set the record straight and take a look at 5 of the most common myths about building a six-pack.
5. You Should Only Do Crunches
Crunches have long since been shown to be one of the less effective exercises when compared to movements such as the plank or windmill. Still, you see so many people crammed on to the mat doing crunch after crunch in the hopes of getting a six-pack. Here’s the problem with crunches: They only hit the upper portion of your abdominals. That means you still need an exercise for the lower portion AND those deep ab muscles that you don’t hear much about.
Crunches are okay but you need to perform a variety of core movements to hit the entirety of the muscle group. According to a report from Mark Anders, ACE (American Council on Exercise) commissioned a study to determine the best abdominal exercises. The top movements were the Bicycle Maneuver and the Captain’s Chair. (1)
4. Cut Out All Fat from Your Diet
Understandably, when you want your abdominals to show, the last thing you want to do is add fat to your midsection. However, that doesn’t mean you should be cutting out all fats from your diet. Fats are an important macronutrient that can actually support fat loss. Sounds odd, doesn’t it? Fat helps you burn fat. Think of it like this:
If you’re going to cut back on anything in your diet, it’s carbohydrates. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that a low carb / moderate fat diet was effective in improving cardiovascular health and promoting a decrease in adipose tissue (body fat). (2)
3. You Need to Take Several Different Supplements
Sure, supplements are a great way to spike your metabolic rate, suppress your appetite, and support your six-pack endeavors but they aren’t a requirement.
Use a supplement ONLY if you feel it will benefit you but be careful. Supplements may lead to more supplement use. This may put you at risk for dependency on a specific thermogenic like caffeine. Play it safe and try L-Carnitine, an amino acid that has been shown to support fat loss. (3)
2. Twice a Day, Every Day
Just because you want a six-pack doesn’t mean you need to exercise your core to the point of torture. You need to remember that like any muscle, your abs need time to recover. If you over train them, you risk doing exactly the opposite of what you want. Over training may lead to muscle loss! Training every other day is okay but steer clear of muscle strain by giving your core a breather.
1. You Can Target Abs Only
Have you ever seen a terribly out of shape person with a perfect and cut six-pack? Neither have we.
If you want incredibly defined and sculpted abs, your whole body needs to get involved. It’s not possible to spot treat or target ONLY your abdominals. You’ll need to develop the ab muscles WHILE promoting the loss of body fat. The only way to do this is through total body resistance training and cardiovascular exercise. That means you’ll need a complete and comprehensive workout program that hits the major muscle groups as well as your abdominals, obliques, hip flexors, and lower back.
There are plenty of fitness myths still lurking about concerning how you can sculpt your ideal abdominals. It’s time to get the record straight. Be sure to choose a variety of core exercises while eating a diet that’s high in protein and low in carbs. Stick to scientifically proven fat burning supplements like L-Carnitine while you perform your weekly training program and don’t forget about those rest days.
- Mark Anders. New Study Puts the Crunch on Ineffective Ab Exercises. ACE Fitness. May/June 2001. Web.
- Tian Hu, Katherine T. Mills, Lu Yao, Kathryn Demanelis, Mohamed Eloustaz, William S. Yancy, Jr, Tanika N. Kelly, Jiang He, and Lydia A. Bazzano. Effects of Low-Carbohydrate Diets Versus Low-Fat Diets on Metabolic Risk Factors: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Clinical Trials. Am J Epidemiol. 2012 Oct 1; 176(Suppl 7): S44–S54.
- Brandsch C, Eder K. Effect of L-carnitine on weight loss and body composition of rats fed a hypocaloric diet. Ann Nutr Metab. 2002;46(5):205-10.
Please Note: Before following exercise routines or changing your fitness regime, please consult a certified fitness professional. Always talk with a medical practitioner before following dietary advice or taking supplements.