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Myths About Your Abs

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Updated April 09, 2014

Plank

Plank

Every day I receive emails from all over the world: emails from teenagers and adults, men and women, boys and girls. These emails express heartbreak, obsession, frustration and anxiety and all over one thing: Their abs. It's hard to believe that one little muscle group could cause such a stir, but it's true. Most of us would love to have flat abs but, no matter how hard we try, we just can't seem to get there. So what's the answer? Get the facts about your abs and learn what your body is really capable of.

The Facts About Your Abs

Much of the frustration surrounding the abs is due to misinformation and unrealistic expectations. Despite the hard work of trainers everywhere, people still cling to outdated ideas on the proper way to work their abs and get the much-desired 'six-pack.' Examining the myths surrounding your abs is the first step towards setting reasonable goals for yourself.

Ab Myth No. 1: Doing Ab Exercises Gets Rid of Abdominal Fat

Unfortunately, spot reduction doesn't work, either for the abs or for any other body part. The fallacy of spot reduction assumes that, if you have fat over your abs, then exercising the ab muscles will make that fat go away. While exercising the muscle may increase endurance or strength, it won't burn off the fat in that area.

The only way to burn fat from your belly is to reduce overall body fat by creating a calorie deficit. The healthiest way to do that is with consistent exercise (cardio, weight training and flexibility) and a healthy, low-calorie diet.

Ab Myth No. 2: Ab Muscles are Different From Other Muscles of the Body

Do you work your abs differently from other muscles in your body? If so, you're not alone. Too often people work their abs every day without rest, hoping to burn the fat off with more exercise. However, your abdominal muscles are just like every other muscle in your body, so you should train them the same way you would train, say, your biceps or your chest. That means strength training 2-3 times a week, with rest in between and a variety of exercises to target different areas of the abs.

Try dynamic Moves that focus on core strength and that involve your stabilizer muscles; the muscles you use all day long to hold your body in place. One of these is the plank: get into pushup position and hold it for as long as you can, keeping your belly tight and your body straight. Don't hold your breath. For a more advanced version, try it with the stability ball.

If you need more challenge, try this difficult exercise:

Lie on the floor with your legs up (straight or slightly bent) and aim soles of your feet at the ceiling. Imagine that you're holding something fragile on your feet, like a tray of glasses filled with water. Lift the 'tray' straight up towards the ceiling until your hips are off the floor.

The trick to your abs is to realize that strength training IS important to keep your belly strong, but ab exercises aren't magic. Incorporating ab exercises into a complete routine is the only way to the wonderful world of six-packs. And, even if you don't make it there, don't worry. The rest of us haven't either.

For more, check out Flatten Your Abs.

Next page More Ab Myths

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