Archive for the tag - abdominal muscles

8 Popular Six Pack Ab Myths.

True story: No two six packs are alike.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

Six-Pack Tip: Faster Crunches for Ripped Abs.

Tall, dark and delicious! Can I get an amen?!

I’m about to rock your world with some new research. Sit down for this one.

You’ve probably heard that, when it comes to the speed at which you perform strength training exercises, slower is better. The idea behind slow training seems logical. By going slow, you remove all the momentum from your movements - and so all the tension is directly on your muscles. It seems to make sense, but new research is proving otherwise.

It turns out that super slow training is significantly less effective than traditional training. One study showed slow training strength gains of 15% compared to gains of 39% for traditional training.

But wait, there’s more.

Additional research has been done on the variable of speed in abdominal exercises - and crunches, in particular. Researchers divided participants into 4 groups, and had those groups perform crunches at different speeds (1 crunch per 4 seconds, 1 crunch per 2 seconds, 1 crunch per 1.5 seconds, 1 crunch per 1 second). Turns out, the participants in the fastest group - 1 crunch per 1 second - had the highest amount of muscle activation.

In actuality, the results shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Compare the legs of a marathon runner to the legs of a sprinter. Sprinters, who engage in fast bursts of rapid movement, have very muscular legs.

Of course, this isn’t a green light to rush through all your exercises. But it does mean that increasing the speed at which you crunch can be a good thing. But increase the speed slowly; progressively build up to a faster pace over time. And remember that form shouldn’t be sacrificed for speed!

How to Get a Six Pack: Are Crunches Enough?

Sexy? Yes. Worth the effort? You tell me.

Wisdom aside, many people first start working out because they want the almighty six pack. Of course, it’s my hope that these exercisers eventually come to appreciate the much more powerful and transformative benefits of working out, but there’s new denying the ubiquity of the six pack.

In fact, more than 40,000,000 web pages (now 40,000,001) are dedicated to the subject. So what’s the secret to abs of steel? And are crunches enough to carve out a washboard midsection?

The simple answer is it depends.

In terms of effectiveness, crunches and sit-ups are at the top of the list. Researches from Slippery Rock University put many popular ab products to the test and found that we need not waste our money on fancy equipment to activate our abdominal muscles (check out my equipment-free 5-minute ab workout on YouTube). Researches wrote:

For the 8 exercises examined in this study, the Ab-Sling, Ab-Rocket, crunch, and sit-up produced the most muscle activation in URA and LRA, but because participants would neither purchase nor use the Ab-Sling or Ab-Rocket, the sit-up or crunch should be prescribed for rectus abdominis exercise.

That’s good news for our wallets. But are crunches really a magic bullet if you’re going after the superficial Jersey Shore six pack? If you’re naturally very lean, then yes - you can stop right here. But for the rest of us, no.

Here’s the real secret: A powerful workout that incinerates any body fat hiding your abs and a smart but lower (not crazy low) carbohydrate diet.

The good news is that you may already have a six pack. The bad news is that it’s probably comfortably hidden under a layer of body fat. Even a small and healthy layer of body fat will do a good job to hide your abdominal muscles from view. But if a six pack is really your goal and focus (spending that same energy elsewhere may be more rewarding), then you’ll have to step up the cardio and really monitor your eating. Goodbye pizza and pasta and hello up-hill sprinting and intervals!

Sure, they’re sexy. But do you think it’s worth the energy and effort to carve out a six pack? Let me know in the comments below.