A Post Dispelling the Myths About Exercises for a Flat Belly and Sexy Abs by Cape Town Personal Trainer JP Steyl
Forget the crunches and sit-ups; there’s a better way to get that 6-pack.
Let’s be honest. We would all like to have a sculpted mid-section. But for all the crunches and sit-ups that people do, that 6-pack remains elusive.
You have no idea how many times I have been asked, “I do crunches and sit-ups daily, but my midsection is still soft and flabby. What’s going on?”
I have good news–I know how to get you that 6-pack. Mine is a no-fail blueprint.
But before we get to that, let’s do some myth busting concerning your abs.
Myth #1: Weight loss will reveal your abs.
If you want to see your abs, you must lose FAT, not weight!
A lesson in body composition: Your body is composed of both fat mass and lean body mass. Your fat mass is, well, fat. And your lean body mass includes things like muscle, bone, organs, and water. To reveal that sought-after 6-pack, you need to decrease the amount of fat in your body while at the same time increase your lean body mass. This will create a metabolism that blasts away fat and builds up muscle.
Do the math. If the scale tells you that you have lost 10kg of weight, but in reality part of that weight includes muscle mass, you are working against yourself. You have not only caused your metabolism to slow down, but your athletic performance will suffer and you will lose the great look that sculpted muscles bring.
However, if you see a loss of 10kg on the scale but those 10kg do not include the loss of any lean muscle, you will see the opposite effect. Your performance will skyrocket, your metabolism will stay at a healthy level, and you will begin seeing more definition on your body. You will also be in a great position to keep that fat off permanently!
Listen, the scale is NOT your friend. There are too many variables that cause insignificant fluctuations. How well you are hydrated, how much salt you have had and even the menstrual cycle for women all cause changes in what the scale says. You need to get past the numbers and get rid of the scale. You don’t need it.
Your objective is to lose fat, not weight. And the best way to tell if you have lost fat is to pay attention to how your clothes are fitting, what photos reveal (love those before and after pictures!) and what the mirror says.
Myth #2: You can remove fat from your stomach by doing lots of abdominal work
Spot reduction only works in the laundry! It is a myth that you can melt away fat from individual areas of your body by simply working the muscles in that section.
Consider this: lots of people do crunches, but few people do whole-body workouts. If crunches worked to spot-reduce, you would see a lot of people with fat everywhere on their bodies except on their abs! But most people have quite of bit of fat to lose on their tummies. And for hard-core gum chewers, they would have skinny faces in proportion to the rest of their bodies! Hehe!
No; leave spot reduction for the tomato sauce stain on your shirt, and let’s find out how to really move that fat off your stomach.
When you lose fat from your body, it is done in a way that is determined by genetics, eating fewer calories than you burn and having your hormones in optimal condition. This optimal environment is achieved through healthy eating and sensible training. So make it your goal to follow a supportive nutrition plan 90% of the time, and to burn as many calories as you can during each workout. Get your whole body involved, rather than just focusing on your abs.
A great way to include your total body is by doing exercises that use multiple joints such as squats, push-ups and lunges. These blast away many more calories than simply doing crunches and sit-ups. And if there is time after those big movements, you can spend some time working on stabilizing and strengthening your core with exercises like pillars (a.k.a. planks).
Myth #3: The best exercises for your abs are crunches and sit-ups
That 6-pack that you so desperately want to see has a proper name. It is called the rectus abdominis. Traditionally, people have been taught to believe that the best way to work those muscles is to feel the burn in that area by doing crunches and sit-ups.
But your rectus abdominis exists to keep you from hyperextending. It is not there to do endless forward flexes! Think of what you do right before you get punched in the stomach (hopefully this doesn’t happen to you very often): you suck in your navel, effectively bracing your abdominal muscles. This puts your spine into a stable and safe position. But as soon as you relax, you move out of that safe position, and your risk of injury increases because you will begin inclining toward a hyperextended posture.
So the goal is to bring greater stability to your abs by using variations on the pillar (also known as plank exercises). As we work in three planes of movement (frontal– side to side, saggital– front to back, and transverse– rotational), we will not only improve the ability of your abs to perform their true function (by increasing their anti-extension capability), but we will also engage and stabilize those deep abdominal stabilizers that traverse your spine and give support to your internal organs. These deep muscles must become stronger if you are going to improve your posture and performance. You will also be less prone to injury, which is a welcome situation, especially in the light of the fact that crunches and sit-ups frequently result in pain in the neck and back.
Myth #4: Long cardio sessions will melt the fat on your abs
All together now…FALSE!
You can’t use aerobic workouts by themselves to lose fat. It’s been scientifically proven, and this truth has played out time and time again in the real word. The only way to consistently and predictably reduce the fact on your body is through whole-body resistance training. And if you mix in interval training (alternating between high intensity and low intensity exercise), you will blast away 9 times more fat than with regular exercise. And if you really want to turbo-charge your results, combine interval training with both resistance training and cardio training.
Kevin will have more to say about that on Monday in part 2 of The “No More Crunches Flat Belly & Sexy Abs Solution”
In the meantime forget the crunches and follow a total-body, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) exercise program like we do at ForeverStrong P.T.
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GREATEST VICTORIES ARE BORN IN THE HEART
JP Steyl – Head Coach
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