There are a lot of common misconceptions about how to get six pack abs. Apparently the most common of cardio workouts is not really the solution and apparently so are crunches. Workouts and new ways of achieving fitness have indeed evolved from just plain running and eating less rice. A more dynamic approach to exercise and eating are now replacing old ways of thinking and are easily accessible. Workouts have now indeed evolved from the aerobics or plain running, to circuits, yoga, and Pilates. Healthy eating is now more systematized and thorough with its selections and restrictions. And as with all fitness goals, none of it comes easy and a lot of hard work is involved in the process. Here are 5 of the most common myths about six-pack abs and what to do instead.
Myth #1 – You can run and get a six pack out of it
While it is true that running makes your abs more visible by causing you to burn belly fat, it does not necessarily target your abdominal muscles. Running primarily targets the muscles of your leg and thigh such as your tibialis anterior, calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps. Running helps define your abs, but it does not target them directly. Some runners can get shapely abs after running within a short time frame, because they already have muscle underneath and just need to burn a minimal layer of fat on top of that muscle. This is not the case for all. Running is primarily a cardiovascular activity so it is an exercise made for burning calories but not for toning your muscles. You can get thinner or lose weight from running but it won’t really sculpt your abs.
What To Do Instead: Sprints
If you feel that you need to incorporate running into your workout, cut out the 2 hour cardio sessions. If you want to burn fat, 20 minute sprint sessions or jump rope interval training will do much more for you than those 10 mile runs. Sprint training is the more effective option. First, we have to realize that what we are referring to here is not just showing up on the track to run a few laps, but rather we are talking about high-intensity, all-out sprinting and becoming more and more proficient at it as you do so.
Sprinting does two great things for fat and abs. First, high-intensity sprint work increases the rate of metabolism and, second, it makes it last. In other words, calories continue burning long after a sprint session is completed. Fat is the extra layer we all hate most that hides muscle we would love to show off the most. Sprinting burns it off while simultaneously building up and toning the muscle underneath. It consumes less time but does more work for your ab muscles.
Myth #2 –Crunches are an effective abdominal exercise
Crunches actually are a good and effective abdominal exercise given that they are combined with other effective cardiovascular activity.The thing about crunches is, they can hurt and strain your back. If you are a person who suffers from a lot of back strain, then it might be best to have other options.
What To Do Instead: Circuit workouts (Crossfit) or Pilates
Get off your back and get into circuit workouts which focus on function movements that target overall toning of the muscles. Circuit training is a fast-paced class in which you do one exercise for 30 seconds to 5 minutes and then move on to another exercise. These workouts are a mixture of function movements like squats, jumps, burpees and other drills which work to tone muscles over your whole body primarily focusing on your core. A classic example of a great circuit workout is the trending workout called Crossfit. Crossfit has now become a workout craze because one gets a maximum fat-burning, circuit workout that tones your body and at the same time burns fat, in as short as 15 -30 minutes. Some Crossfit workouts involve doing the reps for AMRAP – As Many Rounds As Possible- within a timeframe of 15 to 30 minutes. Imagine doing rounds and rounds of squats, tuck jumps, and push-ups within 15- 30 minutes. . With this kind of workout, one has no excuses anymore.
Aside from Crossfit, Pilates is another great option to have when sculpting your core without doing crunches. Pilates is a workout which makes use of functional poses along with special machines which stretch your muscles, and specifically target your core. It’s a workout similar to yoga in the sense that poses are done and in a very technical manner. Pilates is known to have great results on people who suffer from bad posture. At the same time, the effect it has on muscles is that which elongates and stretches them. It can improve flexibility, muscle tone and endurance, much better than some workouts and with less chance of injury.
Myth #3 – You need a gym to lose weight
This is probably the biggest excuse people make these days. The excuse that “I can’t go to the gym.” Or ” I don’t have time to go to the gym.”. We have more gyms now than we’ve ever had in the history of time. And people are still out of shape and overweight. You don’t need a gym to lose weight and get a six pack –you just need to move.
Unless you’re trying to actively put on muscle mass, there’s no need for a gym –you can do everything you need to lose weight with bodyweight exercises with a flat space in your house or garage. And, if you really need to have a gym, you can make your nearby playground into a home gym.
What To Do Instead: Work with what you have or go outside
Do the best you can, with what you have, wherever you are. If you want to lose weight, you don’t need a single piece of equipment. Skip the treadmill, and do sprints outside. Do pushups and squats in your bedroom floor. With the availability of YouTube and Pinterest nowadays, it’s totally not a difficult thing to type in a workout that you may be interested in and then you are immediately shown a hundred videos or tutorials on how to do it. You can also use benches or bars at a playground for some workout drills. It isn’t a difficult thing to look around and find stairs that can be used for jumps and items that one can hold on to for lifts. The trick is to always be aware of your surroundings and what you can use for your workouts.
Myth #4 – There’s ONE killer ab exercise
There is no one killer ab exercise. As with all processes of getting fit, it is a combination of eating right and putting in the effort over long periods of time to get the body you want. And one of the major realizations about getting a flat and svelte tummy is this. Abs are made in the kitchen too. You can do all that exercising but if you still eat all the processed food and carbs that you want to eat, then your workouts will prove to be futile. This is probably the hardest realization to swallow but yup, it’s also all about the diet.
What To Do Instead: A High Protein, Low Carb diet : The Paleo Diet
If you’re looking for the one thing that will get you closer to six pack abs than anything else, take a good hard look at your diet. The Paleo diet is a good diet to start with. This follows a high protein, low carb framework. This diet is followed mainly by Crossfitters nowadays, as a high protein , low carb framework also allows for them to get the energy they need to max out those difficult , high intensity circuit workouts. The Paleo Diet is a diet based on the types of foods presumed to have been eaten by early humans, consisting chiefly of meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit, and excluding dairy or grain products and processed food. The Paleo diet is the healthiest way you can eat because it is the only nutritional approach that works with your genetics to help you stay lean, strong and energetic. Research in biology, biochemistry, Ophthalmology, Dermatology and many other disciplines indicate it is our modern diet, full of refined foods, trans fats and sugar, that is at the root of degenerative diseases such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression and infertility. For most people the fact the Paleo diet delivers the best results is all they need. Research shows that it works not only for weight loss but those who are on the diet also report better energy, and immunity from disease among other benefits.
Myth #5 – You cant ever get a six pack
It can be discouraging to know that fitness is a long-term process and it takes a lot of hard work to get the body you admire. One can think up a whole bunch of excuses not to workout or why you cannot eat right. A change of mindset is needed and more than anything, old habits need replacement.
What To Do Instead: Get moving and have a goal – take the 21-day challenge
Instead of sitting around talking about why you couldn’t ever do it, get off your butt, change your habits and actually do it. Take action. Start small, and slowly. Take the 21 day challenge of making healthy eating and exercise a habit. Begin from some short workouts and substituting unhealthy meal options with healthier ones. Track your progress from week to week and hold yourself accountable to the progress that you make. Take pictures of yourself and what you eat. Do what it takes to inspire you. Have a role model whose body or strength level you would like to have, and look up what he or she does to stay fit. Think about fitting into your old clothes again. Always have a goal. And don’t forget to reward yourself with “cheat days” when you have gotten to some considerable progress. Feeling better and looking better won’t be too far ahead once you’ve made healthy eating and exercise a habit. The hard work will surely pay off.