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7 Myths of Abdominal Training
Abdominal Training: There’s no doubt that a trimmed and toned six-pack has a certain amount of ‘sex appeal’, but targeting the abs can be an ongoing challenge. Sometimes even the most stringent diets and exercise regimes produce only marginal results. Why?
A number of myths seem to abound about the best way to turn that flabby mid-section into something you’d be proud of showing off down at the beach. Let’s have a look at each in turn and separate fact, fiction, and wishful thinking.
Myth 1 – Hundreds of crunches will remove fat from your abs
Working the abdominal muscles underneath won’t do anything to change the amount of fat covering them. Muscle and fat are different tissues and it’s impossible to remove fat in specific places without resorting to weight loss surgery.
The only natural way to reduce fat is to go into a caloric deficit. This means increasing your activity levels and decreasing your food intake (not crash dieting). This will result in your body burning fat in order to provide for its energy requirements.
The crunchies will undoubtedly develop and strengthen your abs, but until you combine diet and exercise to burn the excess fat, you may not notice the difference in the mirror.
Myth 2 – Twisting movements will remove fat from your waist
This falls into the same category as myth number 1. Twisting from side to side won’t burn any more fat from your waits than it will from the rest of your body. And even then it won’t be much at all.
Also bear in mind that no matter how many calories you burn through exercise, if you eat excessively you won’t be in a caloric deficit and you’ll never reduce your body fat.
TIP: For the most efficient calorie-burning, perform an activity that involves as many muscles as possible and can be sustained for long periods, such as walking.
Myth 3 – High repetitions work best for the abs
Your abdominals are like any other muscles in your body and will respond to exercise in exactly the same way. Keep the repetitions moderate and as your sets become easier try adding weight/resistance or doing sit-ups on an incline.
Myth 4 – You should work abdominal muscles every day
As per Myth 3, the abdominal muscles are no different from other muscles. While they may tolerate being worked more often it’s better to ensure they get adequate rest between sessions. Many people fall for this one mistakenly believing that doing high reps will remove fat.
Myth 5 – The abs have two separate muscles, the upper and lower abs
The visible or frontal part of the abdominal wall is the rectus abdominis This is the muscle that gives the 6 pack appearance when well developed. The ab wall also includes the external abdominal oblique and the internal abdominal oblique (the sides of the waists) and the transverses abdominis, beneath the rectus abdominis.
The rectus abdominis is one long flat continuous muscle that runs from the lower ribs to the groin.
The two sections respond differently to exercise that pull the shoulders to the hips and exercise that pull the hips towards the shoulders.
Myth 6 – You need the latest gadget advertised on TV to develop your abs
While some of these gadgets do work well there is nothing they can do that you can’t do yourself with a range of crunches. 9 times out of 10 you will be obsessed with the gadget for a few weeks and then it will find its way to the back of the closet. Most people forget about their abs again until the next gadget comes along. Targeting the abs requires patience and persistence, not a gimmick.
Myth 7 – Electronic muscle stimulation, while you’re watching TV, is the way to go
Electrical stimulation is a very useful tool in physical therapy but like the gadgets, it’s simply not necessary. Nothing compares to hard work, sweat, and resistance training when you’re trying to get into shape – the abs are no different.
So get cracking with your crunches but remember that if you want to see the evidence, your ab workout should be part of a healthy eating and aerobic exercise program.