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10 Ab Training Mistakes You Need To Stop Making!

The rise of the core has led to a profusion of misinformation and confusion. Eliminate the training flubs that keep your abs in the shadows!

Ab Abominations

Poor choices sabotage results!
Here's the recon on 10 mistakes that
might be holding your abs hostage!
"The first rule to get abs is: you do not do sit-ups. The second rule to get abs is: you DO NOT do sit-ups." - Tyler Durden

"The first rule to get abs is: you do not do sit-ups. The second rule to get abs is: you DO NOT do sit-ups." - Tyler Durden, Fight Club.

OK, Tyler didn't really say that. But as women everywhere reminded their dates in the post-movie recap, he did have some serious abs. Or maybe it was the guy who played him—you know, ol' what's-his-obliques. But whomever they belonged to, they were the kind of muscles that weren't just made in the kitchen. They were carved by hard training, and revealed by smart diet choices.

But here's the thing about ab training: What you do is only one half of the equation. What you don't do is the other—and I'm not just talking about the usual pre-photo shoot fitness model tricks like avoiding sodium, carbs, happiness, or air. I'm referring to the piles of abominable abdominal misinformation lurking out there, both on television and in casual conversation. Perhaps more than any other body part, ab training keeps you constantly on guard against making basic mistakes.

Below are 10 of the biggest ab training mistakes I see people make. I could say I "always" see people make them, because that's how people talk about abs, but that's not technically accurate. I mean, everybody has to blink sometimes, and every once in a while I have to go get a drink of water. But aside from that, yeah, it's pretty much constant.

But if you can minimize—or completely eliminate—these mistakes, you might just see your abs pop out sooner than planned.

Ab Flub 1: Forgetting about compound exercises

If you strictly perform isolation ab exercises, you're making a huge mistake. Compound movements like deadlifts, squats, and overhead presses engage every inch of your core. Don't forget to include them in your training program.

Ab Flub 2: Doing ab exercises first

Your abs are part of your core area, which helps stabilize your body. If you fatigue them early in your workout, you will have a hard time doing other ab-intensive exercises like squats.

And just so we're clear, the role that your core plays in squats is to protect your spine, so you want them to have a full tank at that point. Save your ab training for the end.

Ab Flub 3: Thinking you can out-crunch your diet

The secret to visible abs is no secret at all: Lower your body fat percentage. This doesn't happen by doing hundreds of reps of ab exercises—nor thousands, nor millions. You can train your abs all you want, but if your diet isn't in check, you'll never see that six-pack.

Ab Flub 4: Having a full workout just for abs

All you need is 15 minutes. If you're already doing compound exercises like squats and deadlifts, one or two ab exercises for 2-3 sets each at the end of your workout is sufficient.

"You can train your abs all you want, but if your diet isn't in check, you'll never see that six-pack."

Ab Flub 5: Training them every day

"But Arnold worked the abs every day!" Save it. Abs are just like any other muscle in your body. That means they need time to recover. When they get worked hard, a couple of days' reprieve is necessary, in my opinion.

If you can crunch yourself into submission one day and then wake up the next morning ready for more, take it as proof that crunches aren't actually working your abs as hard as they should be.

Try a harder movement and tell me if you're up for repeating it tomorrow.

Ab Flub 6: Only doing crunches

I heard the question you just screamed "So what's better than a crunch, maaan?" There are dozens of exercises that are much more effective than the traditional crunch.

In fact, the traditional crunch is one of the least effective ab exercises you can do. And just because you can't perform these other movements for hundreds of reps doesn't mean they're not effective. Trust me, this one is:

Pike Roll-Out on a Fitness Ball
Watch The Video - 01:56



Ab Flub 7: Not focusing on form

Again, abs are just like any other muscle in your body. So why are you writhing around like you're on fire to work them, when you're a stickler for form on your squats and presses? Focus on form and make sure your abs engage in every rep.

When you start doing more advanced and effective ab movements like the pike roll-out, you'll discover that they're pretty much impossible to perform sloppily.

Ab Flub 8: Forgetting about your lower back

The core has a front and a side, but it has a back, too. A lot of people neglect the lower back muscles (erector spinae), so make sure to train them just as you would with every other muscle.

If you want to have a strong core, treat your lower back like your abs. Train it hard and smart, and you'll feel as strong as you look.

Ab Flub 9: Only working in one angle

Your obliques, transversus abdominis, rectus abdominis, and erector spinae are all part of your core, but they're different muscles with fibers running in all manner of directions. You must train them in more than just one angle.

Complex, difficult movements like windshield wipers can work the whole team at the same time, but if you're not there yet, don't take it as an excuse to revert back to middle-school-crunch tests.

Seated twists (spinal rotation), hyperextensions (spinal extension), side bends (lateral spinal flexion), and planks (isometric/stabilization) are all movements that target your core in more comprehensive ways than the typical crunch (spinal flexion).

Ab Flub 10: Using infomercial ab gizmos


AB Circle Pro Commercial - As Seen on TV
Watch The Video - 03:18



Seriously? That thing brings you about as close as possible to kicking your own ass. And if you really think that wiggling from side to side is enough to make you lose 10 pounds in two weeks, you've got the kick coming!


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Sibierious

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Sibierious

80% of the people at my gym need to read this article.

Sep 3, 2013 6:43pm | report
 
xHiroko

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xHiroko

How about 95% of them?

Sep 4, 2013 6:36am | report
RelaxImJoking

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RelaxImJoking

How about 95.95%?

Sep 4, 2013 10:39am | report
j_suriel

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j_suriel

I would say 97% dude, and most don't want to know

Sep 5, 2013 6:27am | report
Allaround101

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Allaround101

bro its AS LEAST 98.23

Sep 11, 2013 10:24pm | report
Allaround101

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Allaround101

bro its AS LEAST 98.23

Sep 11, 2013 10:24pm | report
Longhorn15

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Longhorn15

I'm going to go out on a limb and say 99%

Sep 12, 2013 4:30pm | report
robwein83

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robwein83

Really?!! I'd have to say 99.35% is a more fair estimate.

Sep 15, 2013 2:14pm | report
RJLDomingo

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RJLDomingo

99.5%, brothers.

Sep 16, 2013 2:08am | report
db1991

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db1991

99.9%. No one has a clue.

Sep 16, 2013 11:43am | report
Vic1123

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Vic1123

99.99%??? I can't figure out how to put the little line over the 9 to indicate a repeating number...

Sep 30, 2013 7:43am | report
stephanieb11

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stephanieb11

should print it out and post it on the ab machines lol

Oct 3, 2013 11:40am | report
brosiedon

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brosiedon

I am in agreement.

Nov 18, 2014 4:02pm | report
chiefgreybeard

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chiefgreybeard

One arm dumbbell overhead press really hits the core!

Sep 3, 2013 7:19pm | report
 
tjstrick9000

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tjstrick9000

...while sitting on an exercise ball.

Sep 5, 2013 1:12am | report
awebo21

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awebo21

With no feet on the ground.....

Sep 5, 2013 1:55am | report
RelaxImJoking

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RelaxImJoking

..Staring at the girl doing squats through the mirror...

Sep 5, 2013 1:39pm | report
bemyj42

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bemyj42

Ab articles are the best! I am always trying to find new exercises. It seems like I revert back to doing some of the no-nos after awhile until I read one of these articles. Keep 'em coming!!

Sep 3, 2013 9:46pm | report
 
joegill576

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joegill576

The infomercial was awesome. I love them. They keep me laughing in the morning. Everybody wants great abs but nobody wants to work for them. The abundance of misinformation is staggering. I hate to admit it but, I've been guilty of a few of these as well. Great article very well presented information. I will recommend to my clients.

Sep 4, 2013 4:33am | report
 
TheSlyKillah

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TheSlyKillah

Thanks for reading!

Sep 4, 2013 10:56am | report
revrcs3

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revrcs3

Great article. Think I'll save this in my fave's.

Sep 4, 2013 7:06am | report
 
vincyrus

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vincyrus

Really great advice. I'll start ending my workouts with ab exercises. I've always started off thinking warming up your core makes them work harder as you do your normal routine.

Sep 4, 2013 7:34am | report
 
marseneau

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marseneau

Warm up your abs pre-workout by doing dynamic stretching after you do some cardio. Any warmup is to get the muscles ready to work, not to tire them out.

Sep 4, 2013 8:03pm | report
Frers50

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Frers50

Some of the professionals need to read this. Even the pros cheat on ab days

Sep 4, 2013 10:13am | report
 
TheSlyKillah

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TheSlyKillah

Exactly why I felt the need to write this. Thanks for reading!

Sep 4, 2013 10:43am | report
Showing 1 - 25 of 107 Comments

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