I’ve worked in a gym setting for over 15 years now and every day, yes EVERY DAY, someone commits one of these “abdominal myths”. I’ve even heard other personal trainers misinform their clients about how to train their abdominals. Don’t worry if you’ve been misled, it’s just time to make a change!
1. Abdominal exercises help get rid of the fat around your middle and will give you the “washboard” stomach you dream of!
Truth: Abdominal exercises develop the muscles of the abdomen, but will not necessarily get rid of the layer of fat OVER your “washboard”. A combination of diet and exercise will give you the best chance of reaching your goals, but don’t forget about your genetics! Many people will achieve a “flat stomach”, but will never see the washboard lines.
2. For best results, you should do hundreds of reps of abdominal exercises.
Truth: If you can do hundreds of repetitions of a single exercise, chances are, the exercise is too easy for you! Time to change it up! Instead of doing regular crunches with your feet on the floor, try doing them with your feet off the ground with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle.
3. You should work your abdominals every day.
Truth: Your abdominals are just like every other muscle in your body. When we workout we create very small tears in the muscles, but when they build back, they build back stronger! In order to do this, you must let them recover! Do your crunches on day 1, but then on day 2 use your abdominals for stabilizing only- try standing on a BOSU while you do your bicep curls!
4. The front of your abdomen is made up of upper, middle and lower abdominals so make sure you work all parts!
Truth: The front of your abdomen is 1 long muscle called Rectus Abdominis. There are tendonis intersections in between parts of the muscle which give it the look of sections. It is impossible to work the “upper” part of the abdomen without working the “lower”. You may feel it more in one area, but that is because of the choice of exercise. If you feel the need to work your “lower” abdomen more, it is most likely because that is where your body has chosen to store excess fat. * See myth #1
5. If your abs are not sore the day after your workout, then you did not work them hard enough.
Truth: Muscle soreness can be an indicator of a good workout, but a lack of it does not necessarily mean that you didn’t work hard enough. In fact, too much pain is a major warning sign of overtraining. As long as you challenged yourself during your workout you have stimulated the muscles and will reap the benefits!
If you need new abdominal exercise ideas or have any questions please contact Colleen at firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by The Wellness Center at The Fitness Loft.
*Colleen Proctor has a degree in Exercise Science from The Ohio State University. She has her Performance Enhancement Specialist Certification from The National Academy of Sports Medicine, Pilates Reformer certification from Balanced Body, and specialized training and certifications in group fitness.