One of the most common reasons we start or continue to work out is to tone or “get” abs. Every quick fix diet plan or detox or pill will claim immediate results in the stomach area- “a flatter stomach in days.” It’s crazy how many things can use this for marketing gold.
Here’s the bottom line: There is no secret or quick fix to achieve amazing abs.
However, that doesn’t mean that you should just throw in the towel and give up. If you want something, you have to work for it.
Here are some ab myths that I hear a lot about achieving abs.
1. Ab Exercises Target Belly Fat
Completing abdominal exercises does not decrease belly fat. It is not possible to spot reduce our body fat. In other words all of the crunches in the world will not take away that layer of fat that lies on the stomach. While this can be annoying think about it, would you want a strong stomach with flabby arms or legs. It doesn’t sound appealing right. The only way to remove body fat (no matter where it is stored on the body) is through eating a healthy balanced diet and having a consistent exercise routine. I recommend a balance of cardio and resistance toning exercises. Once body fat is reduced all over the body then you will see that tone in the stomach area.
2. All Abs Look the Same
Do not train for someone else’s body. Not only does this create an unhealthy mindset, but it completely ignores the fact that we all have our own genetic and biological makeup. No matter how hard you try your body may not look like that girl on Instagram, (Which may be a combo of good lighting and filters anyways) because the structure of your abdomen is different. Take progress pictures of regularly in order to track and see just how far you have come with your workouts and diet.
3. Pills or Fat Burners Are Needed
Apart from all of the claims about abs in a few days and cleanses, so many people believe that they can speed up their metabolism or burn more fat by taking a supplement. No matter what that bottle or commercial claims, no supplement can miraculously burn the fat away. Most fat burners are made up of ingredients like caffeine to stimulate the central nervous system and temporarily speeds up the metabolism. While this product may help give you an energy boost and feel more effective during your workout, it does not do much to magically melt away the fat.
4. Goodbye Carbs
We know that diet is crucial to changing your body, no matter what your goals. For whatever the reason we feel that the very first thing we have to do is give up carbs. Cutting carbs can actually slow down the fat burning process simply because your body needs them. Eating the right type of carbs is needed for day to day functioning and for looking and feeling your best. The thing is to stick to whole grains (think rice and quinoa), fresh fruit (not canned), and even vegetables (all veggies have carbs).
5. Crunches are the Best Ab Exercise
Crunches are not the end all be all for abdominal exercises. Crunches only target the most superficial (outer) abdominal muscle. I believe that working just this one muscle is not the best way to achieve a toned core. I recommend mixing up your workouts. I love focusing on the obliques (sides) and transverse abdominus (deep muscle that supports the lower back and torso). Some of my favorite core exercises are all sorts of plank variations and Pilates based.
It’s also important to remember that you can engage and work your abs in all sorts of exercises. In yoga and ballet I am constantly engaging the core. While taking a walk stand taller and pull your shoulders back, and instantly feel your stomach tighten.
6. It’s Impossible for my Body Type
It’s super easy to look at others and feel defeated. It’s easy to feel defeated and blame it on something with your specific body. It’s super easy to give up at times like this. Everyone is not going to look the same, BUT everyone can achieve a toned stomach. Being toned is achievable no matter your body, your age, your metabolism, your limitations, etc. Do not hold yourself back and give up. Believe you can and keep going. You must understand that it takes time, effort, dedication, and sometimes a little sacrifice. You can change your body though.
Yes genetics play a role in our appearance, but you can still change your body. Do not use any excuses to hold yourself back. It’s always up to you and your choices. Keep working.