Myths About Your Abs - 5 Common Myths About Your Abs

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Every day I receive emails from all over the world: emails from teenagers and adults, men and women, boys and girls. These emails express heartbreak, obsession, frustration and anxiety and all over one thing: Their abs. It's hard to believe that one little muscle group could cause such a stir, but it's true. Most of us would love to have flat abs but, no matter how hard we try, we just can't seem to get there.

So what's the answer? Get the facts about your abs and learn what your body is really capable of.

The Facts About Your Abs

Much of the frustration surrounding the abs is due to misinformation and unrealistic expectations. Despite the hard work of trainers everywhere, people still cling to outdated ideas on the proper way to work their abs and get the much-desired 'six-pack.' Examining the myths surrounding your abs is the first step towards setting reasonable goals for yourself.

Ab Myth No. 1: Doing Ab Exercises Gets Rid of Abdominal Fat

Unfortunately, spot reduction doesn't work, either for the abs or for any other body part. The fallacy of spot reduction assumes that, if you have fat over your abs, then exercising the ab muscles will make that fat go away. While exercising the muscle may increase endurance or strength, it won't burn off the fat in that area.

The only way to burn fat from your belly is to reduce overall body fat by creating a calorie deficit.

The healthiest way to do that is with consistent exercise (cardio, weight training, and flexibility) and a healthy, low-calorie diet.

Ab Myth No. 2: Ab Muscles are Different From Other Muscles of the Body

Do you work your abs differently from other muscles in your body? If so, you're not alone. Too often people work their abs every day without rest, hoping to burn the fat off with more exercise.

However, your abdominal muscles are just like every other muscle in your body, so you should train them the same way you would train, say, your biceps or your chest. That means strength training 2-3 times a week, with rest in between and a variety of exercises to target different areas of the abs.

Try dynamic moves that focus on core strength and that involve your stabilizer muscles; the muscles you use all day long to hold your body in place. One of these is the plank: get into pushup position and hold it for as long as you can, keeping your belly tight and your body straight. Don't hold your breath.

If you need more challenge, try this vertical crunch:

Lie on the floor with your legs up (straight or slightly bent) and aim soles of your feet at the ceiling. Imagine that you're holding something fragile on your feet, like a tray of glasses filled with water. Lift the 'tray' straight up towards the ceiling until your hips are off the floor.

The trick to your abs is to realize that strength training IS important to keep your belly strong, but ab exercises aren't magic.

Incorporating ab exercises into a complete routine is the only way to the wonderful world of six-packs. And, even if you don't make it there, don't worry. The rest of us haven't either.

For more, check out Flatten Your Abs.

Do You Really Have to Do a Lot of Reps?

Have you ever done hundreds of crunches or other ab exercises to work your abs? Haven't we all? As you've read in part 1 of this article, your abs are just like every other muscle in your body. That means, you should train your abs the same way as the rest of your muscle groups. Ask yourself this question: would you do 100 bicep curls? Of course not, right? The same thing applies to your abdominals.

To make strength gains with your abs, you have to follow the same principles that apply everywhere else. That means you have to overload your muscles. The reason we feel the need to do so many reps is that we're not working them hard enough, usually because of improper form. If you have to do 50 or more crunches before you feel fatigued, slow down and concentrate on your technique and having good form.

Do a variety of exercises to target your rectus abdominis, obliques and transverse abdominis. Don't just think of your abs as a way to look great...remember that their purpose is to support your spine and help you have good posture.

If you need more difficult exercises, consider getting an exercise ball or try one of these advanced ab exercises.

For more exercises on the ball, visit this Core Strength Workout.

Next pageCan Anyone Get a Flat Stomach?  Maybe Not

Can Anyone Get a Flat Stomach?  Not Necessarily

When you watch television, it seems like the models, actors and stars have fabulous bodies with lovely flat bellies, doesn't it? And many of them do, but what you may not know is that for many people it's not physiologically possible to achieve a flat-stomach.

Let's face it: the factors that dictate how our bodies look are too many to keep track of. Age, genetics, gender, hormones, body type, lifestyle, eating habits, stress management, sleep habits, planetary alignment...all of these decide what your body and, therefore, your belly, looks like.

Women, in particular, tend to store fat around the lower belly area causing that annoying lower belly pooch. Men tend to store fat around the middle, causing that annoying spare tire effect.

Yes, you can exercise and reduce your body fat, but you can't choose where you lose fat. To get six-pack abs, you may have to drop your body fat to a level that is either a struggle to maintain or downright unhealthy. Many of us have the goal to get six-pack abs but most of us will find it difficult to reach that goal.

If this is true for you, trying to reach an impossible goal is only going to make you crazy. Set reachable goals for yourself and make friends with your belly. Remember that we all have flaws and perfection isn't an option unless you head to your nearest surgeon. Instead of doing that, challenge yourself by taking care of your body and accepting it--good, bad and ugly.

Next pageDo You Need Special Equipment?  Nope!

Do You Need Special Equipment to Work Your Abs?  Nope!

The infamous infomercial rears its ugly head. The latest trend is to create bizarre gadgets, call them ab machines and sell them to you for hundreds of dollars, guaranteeing weight loss in a very short amount of time.

First, don't believe it. As the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Second, you don't need special equipment to work your abs.

You can do a wide variety of ab exercises with just your body weight or with an exercise ball, which is often much cheaper than the gadgets you see on infomercials. For ideas, browse through these ab workouts and you'll see that challenging your abs doesn't require much equipment.

Conclusion: you're better off buying equipment that has multiple uses. Ab machines only work the abs, but things like dumbbells, an exercise ball, resistance bands, etc. can be used to train your entire body.

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