If you ask anyone about their fitness goals, six pack abs or a flat stomach are likely to be somewhere on the list. But despite the popularity of this goal, there’s a huge amount of misinformation and a number of popular fallacies.
Today, I’m going to shoot down a number of popular six pack myths to help keep your training program effective and on track.
- Myth: You can crunch away the fat on your abs. For most people, the biggest obstacle standing between themselves and a six pack is a layer of fat. Even a thin layer of fat will hide the most developed of abdominal muscles – and doing crunches will do nothing to spot-reduce stomach fat. In fact, the whole notion of spot-reducing fat is a complete fallacy; fat comes off according to its own agenda. Crunches can build your abdominal muscles, but they won’t reduce stomach fat.
- Myth: Feeling the burn is all that matters. For individuals looking to build up their ab muscles, it’s important to remember that soreness isn’t required for muscle growth. In fact, soreness is usually simply the result of a new workout routine. Subsequent workouts won’t result in as much (or any) soreness, but that doesn’t mean your muscles aren’t growing. An effective ab workout isn’t measured by how sore you are the next day.
- Myth: You need strong abs to have a six pack. Ever see a guy or gal who doesn’t workout, but who sports a fantastic set of six pack abs? For many of these individuals, their chiseled midsection is the result of low body fat percentages. More than developed abdominal muscles, visible six packs have a lot more to do with low body fat – and these individuals were blessed with good genes.
- Myth: Fat or diet pills will help you get a sick pack. It’s not worth spending any time on this myth. If you could buy a six pack in a bottle, there would be a lot more people walking around without their shirts on.
- Myth: There are shortcuts. Sorry, there aren’t. Depending on your current state of athleticism, your journey to a flat stomach may be longer or shorter – but there really are no shortcuts. Chiseled abs are the result of a workout program designed to target a low body fat percentage (usually the 6% – 13% range) and larger abdominal muscles. There’s no potion, pill or magic spell.
- Myth: You can get your six pack to look like that of Christopher Fawcett. Or Ryan Reynolds. Or Colton Haynes. While the models and actors we see in magazines can be great motivators, just like snowflakes, no two six packs are alike. The structure of your abdomen is determined by your genes. And while you can change the size of your muscles through exercise, you can’t change the fundamental layout or structure of your midsection. Your six pack will be uniquely yours.
- Myth: You can’t eat carbs if you want a six pack. Carbs are one of the most under-appreciated aspects of a balanced and healthy diet. Indeed, we need carbohydrates for our bodies to function properly, but many people mistakenly believe that carbs load our bodies up with excess body fat. The real emphasis should be placed on eating good, whole, natural and unprocessed carbs – like those found in whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, etc – rather than the bad carbs found in sugary drinks, white bread, cookies and cakes.
- Myth: You need to do hours of cardio to get a six pack. You don’t need to take up marathon running to lean down and showcase your six pack. In fact, as I’ve said before, high intensity interval training – which can last for as little as 10 or 15 minutes – is the best way to boost your metabolism and drop body fat. It takes minutes – not hours.
In life, knowledge is power – and the same can be said for fitness. Just because you’ve heard something, it doesn’t mean that it’s true. It’s important to question everything and to do your research based on real science – rather than what you overheard at the gym.
In the comments below, I’d love to hear some of the true or untrue things that you’ve heard about six packs. Perhaps I’ll do a part II.