Let’s face it. Ask anyone what body part they would like to improve, and a large majority will most likely answer, “my stomach.” As a student-athlete, I’ve noticed that my teammates and classmates generally associate a visible 6-pack with a strong core, and simply an overall healthier lifestyle. While this may be the case for some, visible abs don’t just indicate physical health. While there is no clear right or wrong way to get abs, there are clearly many ways to get abs that prove to be more productive than others, and those that prove much less efficient.
If you’re thinking about getting those summer abs, make sure you train knowing the TRUTH.
Here are 5 common myths about getting abs and what you can do instead to get results.
1. You need to train your abs every day, 7 days a week.
Like any other muscle in your body, your abs need rest. Working out is basically putting stress on your body and not allowing your muscles to heal. Why? Truth be told, your muscles don’t grow while you train, they grow during the healing process. As your abs work and push their limits during the workout, you may feel pain once you rest. This pain is simply your muscles trying to heal themselves, and they will gradually show definition over time.
Try training your abs on 2 days on and one day off, or you can train every other day with high-intensity and weight-bearing abdominal exercises.
2. Working out your abs will give you a flat stomach.
For simplicity :
If you want to lose fat in one place, you have to lose fat all over your body. It’s the sad truth.
You could do 1,000 sit-ups every day (with rest days of course, as mentioned in the previous paragraph), but that won’t help get a flatter stomach. Also, it is important to remember that quality is more important than quantity. Doing ab exercises incorrectly can lead to muscle imbalances in the hip, back, and abs, making the amount ineffective and ultimately a waste of time.
Engage your whole body in different forms of cardio, HIT, and other aerobic exercises. Intensity levels can vary from low to high, but frequency and duration are important to keep in mind. Weights that are very effective at reducing body fat and burning calories, and adding weights to your abdominal exercises can also make your abs look sharper and more defined. Aim for at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity each week, and even walking for an hour after a meal is effective.
3. I need to go on an emergency diet to lose belly fat.
Yes, a lean diet is very important for getting rid of the fat around your abs, but suddenly switching to an unsustainable low calorie diet is often very ineffective as it promotes rapid recovery; a diet that promises rapid weight loss will most likely promise rapid weight gain. But most importantly, the diet should be sustainable. If it’s not a diet you can stick to for 2-4 months, about 70% of the time, don’t test yourself.
Gradually add changes to your diet. Cut a few snacks from your diet every day (that cookie you eat before dinner, that cup of wine you feast on after dinner), which can easily reduce your daily calorie deficit by about 300-500 calories. Healthy alternatives will also give you the best nutrient to calorie ratio. It is also important to note that abs are built on MUSCLE and protein is what feeds muscle and starves fat. Focus on slowly improving your diet and keeping it healthy for a while. You can start by cutting out some sugary snacks from your diet and avoiding these 5 often unhealthy foods that are often mistaken for health.
4. I only have one abs workout to do.
Your body can adapt pretty quickly to that 10 minute workout you’ve been doing for 4 weeks now. If you’re doing the same workout for more than 4 weeks, now’s probably a good time to mix it up.
Expose your abs to different abdominal workouts, movements, and stretches. This not only works the abs even harder, but it’s also much more effective than doing the same workout and expecting results. This also goes for cardio; mix up your cardio! Go for a run on a few days and join a group class on the other days. Be sure to mix up your workouts to improve your body more and more.
5. Anyone can have abs.
For some, genetics, disorders, or just body types can prevent them from getting a visual six-pack. Remember: the abdominals are visually apparent. Body fat should be low and their muscles should be toned, and yes, it’s often true that men get it more easily than women. Women naturally carry more body fat, so don’t be surprised if men get those visual abs faster than women, even if they follow the same ab routine and eat identical foods.
Visual abdominal muscles do not indicate your state of health. Even if it’s genetically impossible for you to have abs, that doesn’t mean you can’t be an athlete. Eating a cleaner diet, getting 60 minutes of aerobic exercise every day, and staying happy all contribute to a healthy lifestyle. In fact, you can still do the same ab workout and maintain a strong core. Just because you can’t see your abs doesn’t mean you can’t have a strong core.
Well-defined abdominal muscles, whether achieved through sheer dedication and commitment, superior genetics, or a combination of the two, are coveted because they are so elusive. In short, everyone is different. Some things are just achievable for some and impossible for others, but in the end, it’s important to remember that every person is built differently, and in some cases it can all just come down to genetics. But more importantly, eating a strict diet, sticking to an effective and sustainable diet, and drinking plenty of water are all essential to getting the defined ab look and leading an overall healthier lifestyle.