Abdominal muscles are the least comprehensible workout area for the general population. Myths and false beliefs are rooted very firmly. Many people are convinced "local fat burning" is possible, and you can often come across tutorials and movies that in fact have nothing to do with truth. How to avoid the most common mistakes, how not to suffer injury and gain a 100% "six-pack"? Feel free to read the following article.
Error # 1: skipping complex multi-joint exercises
You squat, you deadlift, you do clean and jerk, rowing, push press, shoulder press, snatch, dumbbell swing and dumbbells jerk? No? You rob your stomach muscles and your back off the best job they are made for. Complex exercises, especially performed at high loads (compared to your body weigh) make a powerful muscle training, for all straight, oblique and deep layers muscles. Including your back.
To sum up:
instead of doing sit-ups, devote some time to squats and other multi-joint exercises,
doing basic multi-joint exercises has yet another, hidden advantage: it's a powerful hormonal stimulus. What is the impact of sit-ups, bends and short flexes on lactic acid secretion? None! On the growth hormone and IGF-1? None! On testosterone - also nothing. The stronger the hormonal stimulation, the better answer in terms of body fat reduction. In scientific research it was found that high testosterone level alone maintained for a longer period of time caused reduction in body fat (and that's without any training!). In addition, carbohydrate tolerance is improved (decreased insulin resistance),
complex exercises increase the percentage of muscles in your body (LBM); sit-ups don't build muscle mass,
the more muscle you build, the easier it will become to get rid of fat (accelerated metabolism - higher resting metabolism),
intensive free weights training can burn from several hundreds to even one thousand calories (depending on the intensity of the work); sit-ups don't make you expend such amounts of energy.
Error # 2: you sit-up at the beginning of your training
You run, swim, weightlift; and maybe you also train martial arts? Training of your abdominal muscles is the last thing you want to do before a crucial activity! Why? Fatigue of stabilizing muscles will make it impossible to properly perform a given exercise! If a part of your warm-up is dozens of sit-ups, plank or scissors, you should move similar exercises to the end of your workout. Similarly, it would be a big mistake for example to do long aerobic training before a strength one or static stretching before resistance training. Warming up is to prepare the body for work, not to result in inability to perform maximum effort.
To sum up:
do stomach muscles training in a limited volume at the end of training, within a cooling session,
excessive abdominal muscle training reduces exercise capacity (strength, power, speed).
Error # 3: individual training for ABS only
If you do strength training 3-4 times a week and your plan includes complex exercises (squats, bench press, rowing, deadlift etc.), you need very little additional work focused on the ABS. In many cases additional training would be harmful for stabilizing muscles (where there is chronic overload). The same applies to ABS training on an empty stomach. You can train your stomach all day, from morning till evening, but if your diet is bad, you won't get the look from your dreams.
Error # 4: you do sit-ups as a main exercise for your ABS
If you have read the beginning of the article, you already know that sit ups is a poor idea for stomach muscles exercise. Forget about color press, films and circulating myths.
As a major abdominal workout such use exercises like this:
- free weights complex exercises (such as squats or deadlift),
- Russian twists,
- leg lifts, toes to bar and their variants for example windshield wipers,
- exercises on the ball.
How much do I have to train?
- in the beginning do just one set of each exercise, after your strength training,
- plank - first perform with no load, then add gradually 5-20 kg,
- Russian twist - you can immediately apply a weight of 5-10 kg - depending on your abilities,
- toes to bar - initially perform without any load. Over time, you can add a small weight,
- Exercises on the ball - just training without load.
Watch this YOUTUBE VIDEO: one exercise, one to two sets and you are done with the entire ABS training:
Keep in mind that excessive abdominal muscle work is not needed - and usually harmful.
Error # 5: "exercising abdominal muscles with videos from the Internet"
Critically watch movies that are published on the Internet. Very often exercises they describe will not prodce any results for your muscles, and in a worse case may lead to a spine injury. The same applies to special "machines for abdominal exercises." To be well-trained your abdominal muscles do not need any equipment.
See this YOUTUBE VIDEO: an absurd ABS machine:
Error # 6: killing stomach muscles at the same time neglecting back muscles workout
The more work you put into your abdominal workout, the harder you should train the muscles of your back (especially the lower section) - eg. by doing deadlift, rowing or "good mornings". Strong ABS muscles and a weak back represent a functional imbalance. In time, you will develop backaches, and your training will runs the risk of injury.
It's the same with:
- biceps and triceps,
- front and back of your thigh,
- training of your chest and back (eg. movements of attraction vs. movements of pushing - pressing),
- training of rear and center, vs. front of your deltoid muscles.
To sum up:
- the whole body works as one mechanism. By excessively strengthening one part, you weaken the whole,
- if you want a "super-intensive" training for your abdomen, put equally much enthusiasm into your back workout (pull-ups, rowing, deadlift).
Error # 7: hundreds and hundreds of reps
The biggest mistake of all. Where did you get this idea from? Do you train you chest in the range of 100-200 repetitions per set? And back, legs, biceps, triceps, shoulders? Any party muscle, except perhaps calves? Your ABS perfectly responds to heavy weights and low reps range. Calves training can be justified by the composition of muscles, but this depends on genetics and training conducted by a competitor; for example sprinters have much more high-speed fibers in their calves. This makes their calves respond better to heavy weights and low reps range.
To sum up:
A stomach training which includes numerous repetitions (>15-20) makes no sense.
Error # 8: training your stomach every day
This way you won't burn fat but you do push your body to the brink of overtraining and injury. Overloaded abdominal muscles do not fulfill their role - protective role - for spine and internal organs.
To sum up:
- the more often and harder you train, the less additional ABS training should be there in your plan.
- The more training you perform on your abdomen, the worse will be the work of stabilizing muscles (during jogging, swimming or weight training)
At the end: the biggest mistake of all - counting on abdominal muscle training to remove fat from this area.
What lets you get rid of a fat layer is:
- good diet (reducing/weight loss)
- interval training
- strength training
Very often fat on the abdomen is accumulated due to hormonal imbalance: excess of aromatase (which produces much estrogen), stress (cortisol), testosterone deficiency - and it can be very difficult to get rid of this fat. You can find our more in the article on resistant fat: