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Top 7 abdominal exercise myths

What are abs?

"Abs" actually means two thin bands of muscle running straight down your abdomen, from the end of your rib cage to the upper edge of your pelvic bone. Also called the rectus abdominis, each muscle is divided into segments by tendons running right across them. When the muscle in between the tendons is built up, you get the classic six-pack look.

How do they help your health?

Of course, abs training is all the rage nowadays. But what good do tight abdominal muscles actually do for your fitness?

Well, abdominal training increases your core body strength, giving you a firm and stable base from which to execute every other movement with ease and gracefulness.

However, with today's preference for body shape and rippling muscles over actual health, a number of myths have been floating around regarding abdominal training. This is the right time to debunk some of them.

Myth number 1

You need to do hundreds of reps for each set of abdominal exercises in order to train your abs.

Since your abdominal muscles are just like any other of your muscles, it's just as easy to injure them. All you really need to do is to progressive resistance training, doing from 8 to 20 reps per set.

Myth number 2

To train your abs, you need to work out every single day.

No, you can build up your abdominal muscles best by increasingly intense workouts on two days a week, with a day or two of rest in between. This allows them to relax and build up strength.

Myth number 3

The crunch is the very best abdominal exercise.

In fact, the maximum number of muscle fibers is used when you're doing bicycling in the air, or doing sit-ups or knee-ups from a hanging or inclined position. In contrast, the crunch trains only the upper two thirds of the abs.

Myth number 4

You can get a flat stomach if you do a lot of exercise.

Actually, you can get a flat stomach only if you lose enough body fat (down to about 10% body weight) that your abs can actually be seen. This means you need to cut down calories. You can get there faster if you add cardio to your routine, since this makes fat burn even when you're not actually working out.

Myth number 5

Once you have a flat stomach, you can relax.

In fact, once you start to add back that abdominal fat, your gorgeous six-pack will disappear again.

Myth number 6

I can do spot fat removal from my abdomen by going on a crash diet, or by doing cardio or weights.

In fact, spot fat removal is not possible anywhere. You lose weight from all over your body by cutting down intake, spending more calories and building muscle.

Myth number 7

I can't reduce abdominal fat without doing cardio.

In fact, you can substitute weight training. It burns off less calories, and doesn't maintain a higher fat burning rate throughout the day. But sticking to a diet will compensate for this.

 

So that's it - the truth about abs! If you need help getting fab abs, call or visit our friendly physiotherapists at your local physiotherapy center. They'll be glad to help you.

 

Returning to sport after a long break

You've been away from sports, perhaps due to injury, career or family. But now sport beckons again! Try these tips to return to where you left off without injuring yourself.

Follow a beginner's schedule. Your brain remembers movements from long ago (called "muscle memory") but your muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints have likely stiffened up. Trying to pick up where you stopped long ago is sure to injure you.

Go slow and listen to your body. If it protests loudly, stop what you're doing.

Try compound movements where more muscle groups that are involved. Later you can focus on isolated exercises.

Join others who are training. It will motivate you.

And cut yourself plenty of slack. One day soon you'll make it back to your old level. But for now, enjoy the journey!

 

Quick tip

Treat yourself to a new workout outfit. Looking good helps you feel good and can give you improved motivation and performance. A new top, shorts or shoes could inspire you to keep going.

 

Inspiration

Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.

~ Thomas Edison

 
 

Further reading:

  • Exercise at home ab-machines

    Great looking, well developed abdominal muscles are the goal of most people; men who want to take off their shirts and women who want to wear bikinis or halter-tops.

  • Weight loss - avoid the fads

    A fad is an idea, practice or habit that crops up suddenly and is gone in a short space of time. This is not only unrealistic, but unhealthy.

  • Core stability

    The core muscles have been described as the corset of muscles that wrap around the abdomen and back. Core stability is critical for proper posture, movement and balance.

  • Injury prevention

    A great part of the physiotherapy treatment protocol has to do with injury prevention. Let’s take a look at some ways we can help you prevent injury.


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