“Time Is What We Want Most, But What We Use Worst.”
- William Penn
Thanks to the misinformed advice magazines put out on weight loss and to the infomercials that we see at 2 a.m. that advertise the latest machine that will get you abs, we are misguided on what works and what doesn’t. The myth of ab exercises leading to a flat stomach is rampant throughout gyms and is exemplified by the amount of people who hit the ab mats and ab machines each day.
You need to have a low body fat percentage to have a six pack or a flat stomach. For women, this means less than 17 percent is the athletic look and 17-22 percent is lean. For guys, less than 10 percent means you will start to see your six pack and 10-14 percent is lean.
So, now that we busted the myth of ab exercises and you know body fat determines if your stomach is flat and is the only thing that determines this, what does this mean for you?
The most important thing when it comes to getting a flat stomach and a lower body fat percentage is your diet, regardless of how many ab exercises you do; nothing will be more important to your success than that. You could do ab work 14 times a week for an hour each time and still not reach your goal of a flat stomach.
You don’t have to do a single crunch or ab exercise. So, what’s the point in wasting time doing these exercises when they have no impact on your appearance?
Front and side planks and the variation, stability ball rollouts, and paloff press are the only exercises you need to do to strengthen your core, which comprises not only your abdominal muscles, but also the muscles of the back, hips, and pelvic floor. Strengthening these muscles will give you stability in your trunk and spine, helping to prevent many injuries, allowing you to lift more weight, and giving you better posture overall. Doing these exercises will not give you a flat stomach but increase your performance.
If you look at someone’s before and after photos, they always have more muscle and look leaner everywhere on their body, not just their midsection. No one who has a flat stomach just has a flat stomach. They have lean arms, legs, back, etc. They are lean all over.
Take this picture for example; these women are in the same pose/outfits. The woman on the left has a flat stomach and the one on the right does not.
It is important to notice that the woman on the left is smaller and leaner all over her body.
When you place the midsection of the woman on the left onto the midsection of the woman on the right, it just doesn’t work. You don’t see people walking around who are big everywhere but their midsection. People need to get leaner everywhere.
How do you get leaner everywhere?
First, you need discipline and to start doing the right stuff.
Then you have to eat right. It’s the most important thing. There are only so many ways to say the same thing about the importance of diet.
And you have to weight lift. Heavy weight lifting in the six to eight repetition range of the big strength producing exercises. Don’t go to failure or break form. If you are doing six reps of an exercise, you should have enough gas in the tank to be able to do a seventh. But don’t do this seventh. Training to failure leads to over training and muscle breakdown.
Lastly, do short bursts of anaerobic cardio if you are a beginner or intermediate lifter. Also know as HIIT Training. You should do two workouts a week of HIIT training that last 30 minutes.
If you are advanced and already posses a low percentage of body fat, you need to have a mix of HIIT Training and steady state cardiovascular work. Twi sessions a week of 20 minute HIIT and one session a week of 40 minute steady state cardio.
Ab exercises are a myth and unless you like wasting time, stop doing them for vanity reasons.