When it comes to training techniques, there’s no group of muscles on the body that draws more controversy than the abdominals (abs). I would bet there’s more misguided information out there about abdominal training than any other exercise topic. Here’s some of the top myths about training abs and what you should know:
Abdominal Exercises Help Melt Stubborn Belly Fat.
Sorry to break the news, but spot reduction doesn’t work (unless you get liposuction!) for abs or any other areas of your body you’re looking to trim fat from. Performing abdominal exercises will strengthen and tone your muscles, but will do absolutely nothing to reduce the layer of fat that surrounds them. The only way to shed fat from your waist area (or any other area) is to reduce your overall body fat by creating a calorie deficit through proper nutrition and a well-balanced home workout plan that includes aerobic exercise.
For Best Results, Train Abdominal Muscles More Frequently Than Other Muscles.
Your abdominal muscles are similar to all the other muscles in your body and don’t need special attention. Like all other muscle groups, you should train your abdominals 2 – 3 times per week (incorporating various exercises), with at least 48 hours rest in between workouts. You don’t need to spend valuable time every day doing countless crunches or following some useless 60 minute abdominal workout DVD. That time is better spent taking a nice brisk walk or a jog – you’ll see better results at your waistline!
It’s Best to do High Repetitions When Training Your Abdominal Muscles.
Keep in mind that your abdominal muscles are like all other muscles in your body. If you’re looking to make them stronger and more toned (which I hope you are), you’ll need to challenge them with the proper resistance. Depending on your strength training goals, you should use a resistance where you can perform between 8 and 20 repetitions. Doing higher repetitions (>20) with lighter resistance won’t do much for strengthening and toning muscles, and certainly won’t burn fat.
So why would you want to do 100 (or even 50) repetitions of an abdominal exercise? You wouldn’t do that many bench presses, would you? Of course not – it’s a waste of time. To see progress at your waistline, follow the same principles that apply to all other muscles. If you can easily do more than 20 repetitions (in perfect form) for a particular abdominal exercise, try holding a weight for added resistance. You can also step things up by including more challenging exercises.
Doing Side Bends With Weight Will Help Shrink Your “Love Handles.”
This gets back to the concept of spot reduction. You simply can’t melt away body fat by exercising the muscle that lies underneath a layer of fat. The side bend exercise will help strengthen and tone your side waist muscles – nothing else. In fact, those muscles may even get bigger if you train them with heavy weight. You don’t want that, do you? Remember: You can’t control where your body loses fat from. However, eating less and moving more will help you lose it all over.
You Can Work Your Upper and Lower Abdominals Separately.
The fact is, your main group of abdominal muscles (rectus abdominus) is one long muscle and its lower and upper portions can’t contract independent of one another. Therefore, the whole muscle (upper and lower) is activated during each abdominal exercise you perform. However, certain exercises are more effective than others at working each of the different portions of the rectus abdominus muscle. That’s all the more reason to incorporate a variety of abdominal exercises into your home workout plan.
You Need Special Equipment to Train Your Abdominal Muscles Effectively.
Contrary to what all those late night infomercial scammers want you to believe, you do not need any special equipment to train abdominal muscles. In fact, most abdominal exercises can be done with using your own body weight. However, I do recommend that you purchase a stability ball for training abdominals (see post). It’ll come in very handy, especially when you need more challenging exercises as those muscles become stronger. You also might want to consider purchasing an exercise mat, but that’s up to you.
I think I’ll end it there at six myths – there are others, but those are the main culprits. Just remember to treat your abdominal muscles like all other muscles. You don’t need to work them any more or any less. And if you’re looking to trim fat from your abdominal area, you’ll need to eat healthier and get the right amount of aerobic exercise – adding hundreds of crunches to your home workout plan won’t get it done.
I hope that helps,
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