You'll hear all kinds of myths about carving out a six-pack. Don't believe them.
Michael Schletter, C.P.T. 1 / 7
Few aspects of a guy's physique demonstrate a commitment to fitness like ripped six-pack abs. Unlike, say, shoulders or pecs, a guy's abs are the first thing to be obscured by body fat—so even if your abdominal muscles are strong, you won't see them unless you've also managed to chisel away your body fat. Maybe that's why there are so many myths out there about abs: different techniques, variations, exercises, and tips to work them out.
So we decided to cut to the chase and dispel six of the biggest ones out there.
Change up your game with these tips, and in four weeks the other guys will still be doing crunches while you reap the benefits.
Let's get this out of the way first: It doesn’t matter how many crunches you do.
Getting those crunches in doesn't always do the trick. Seeing your abs is all about body fat, and you need to have 10% or less to see the six-pack. Replace the six-pack in your fridge with green, leafy veggies to start seeing the six-pack on your midsection.
Work out your abs every day, see results, right? Not so fast.
Training abs every day won’t reduce the amount of body fat you carry. In fact, it may actually be counterproductive: You'll eventually reach an overtrained state, which can keep you out of the gym for a while, therefore slowing your progress even more.
Fun fact: Each of the abdominals is part of the same large muscle, the rectus abdominus. That means they all work together, even if they look distinct on your body.
Despite being linked via several different nerves, there's no way to really isolate any portion of the abs. Fortunately, you can hammer your lower abs, just as you can emphasize different parts of other muscle groups with different lifts. Certain moves—such as hanging knee raises—hit the lower abs harder, but they also hit the whole midsection.
As is the case with all muscles, abs require some kind of stimulus to grow—and without size, your abs won't be visible anyway. Moves like weighted situps and resisted leg raises will build the abs better than any unweighted version of the crunch.
Myth 5. The only way to train abs is by bending forward
The best ab exercises out there don't involve a crunching motion at all.
Moves such as the overhead press, squat, deadlift, and pull-up hit the abs harder than anything that involves spinal flexion. Plus, spinal flexion puts the back in a terrible position that can lead to serious injury. Swap the crunches for more overhead presses and watch heads turn this summer.
Alternatively, you can stay perfectly still. Exercises like the plank and side plank put lots of demands on your abs, even as you're not moving. (That's called an isometric exercise.)
If you buy this myth, then your body is smarter than you are.
Dehydration might make you temporarily lighter, but it zaps water from skeletal muscles before anything else, because water is vital to several bodily processes that are much more important than flexing your abs. Ultimately, you'll just end up dehydrating yourself, and that will just lead to a significant decline in performance.