I overheard a woman at the gym the other day say she was going to get on the decline bench and work on her obliques. I was in the middle of a session, so I could not help her out, but that comment is commonly made about a variety of abdominal exercises. She truly thought that by performing several sets of obliques that she could spot reduce the fat on her stomach. There are quite a few misconceptions about training your abdominals and the ability to directly change your physique by performing certain exercises. I’d like to clear up a few of the things I have heard over the years I have been in the business.
1) “I am going to do 1000 crunches a day until I have a flat stomach. ” This common statement has several things wrong with it. The abdominal wall will not change by performing endless amounts of crunches. The trick to a flat stomach is to a well-balanced meal every 2 and 1/2 to 3 hours. This means not eating sweets, fried or fatty foods, and not consuming alcohol. I have yet to meet a fitness professional that has a 6 pack and puts unhealthy food and beverages in their body. A person must also perform a sufficient amount of cardiovascular exercise to take the layer of fat off of the stomach.
2) “I read this ab workout in a XYZ magazine and it says if I do these 6 exercises I will have a flat stomach.” When an individual is reading a fitness magazine article, you have to understand several factors. The first is that an individual does not look like that all the time, that person has trained for a specific amount of time in order to achieve that physique for a temporary time frame. The person has eaten well for 12 weeks and performed endless amounts of cardio and has also reduced their water intake in order to see such definition in the abdominals.
3) “I am just going to not eat and workout 7 days a week.” This solution has 2 significant problems. The body requires nutrients in order to perform daily metabolic functions and without those nutrients your bodyfat percentage will go up. I have never met someone who has a high bodyfat percentage that also has a 6 pack that is clearly defined. The second problem is that you CAN NOT work out 7 days a week, your body requires 1 to 2 days of rest for optimal health. Intense training requires more time to recover from the workouts and to make progress.
4) “If I do crunches on the decline bench it will hit my abdominals more than regular crunches.” The problem with the decline bench is that most people lay flat on the bench and then sit all the way up. This is a great hip flexor workout, but as far as helping to get your stomach ready for summertime, it is a complete waste of effort. There are some crunches that can be performed on the decline bench that are effective, however the first one I described is not.
5) “If I do side bends with dumbbells I can target my love handles.” Abdominal exercises CAN NOT SPOT REDUCE. A low bodyfat percentage will show off the definition you are looking for. That requires good nutrition and cardiovascular exercise. Utilizing a dumbbell can also give your abdominals a “blocky” look to them, making you look a little thicker throughout your waistline.
These are some of the most common statements I hear on a daily basis, so the next time you hear someone say these please take a moment and refer them to this post. Your nutritional protocol will determine your success or failure as to whether you achieve your fitness goals or not. Alcohol consumption plays a HUGE role in stalling your weight loss and performance goals. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to call 610 334-4120.