There is always that same group of men and women who do endless ab exercises rep after rep in hopes of getting that sought-after etched "six pack." If you are somewhat knowledgeable in training, then you can easily point out to these people what they're doing wrong in a mere instant. Nevertheless, I will save everyone time and point out the biggest mistakes made when trying to etch your abdominals.
Biggest Ab Mistakes
1. Eating Too Big Of Portions
Do you have any idea how much you're really eating? Most people don't and they over eat tremendously. It's hard not to go off the deep end when portion sizes are so darn big these days. Stores such as Sonic want you to suck back a Route 44 Cherry Limeade and down a triple cheeseburger with an oversized order of french fries.
Restaurants tempt you to order their house specialty - a 16 ounce Porterhouse steak with all the trimmings. Even your mom seems to be in on the conspiracy. Listen to me. If you want your abs to make an appearance, you're going to have to keep better tack of your food consumption.
As a personal trainer and competitive bodybuilder, I believe that eating well doesn't have to be complicated, although it can seem to be during times of intense dieting.
Counting calories can be too painstaking for many of us, so I suggest that everyone take an easier approach and just monitor the size of their portions. When you sit down to a meal, make certain you're not going overboard with your servings. If you have doubts if a portion is too large, then it probably is too large. Moderation is the key.
2. Spot Reduction Doesn't Work... Never Has & Probably
There's no such thing as spot reduction. For the people who suffer from ADD, I'll say it once more: there is no such thing as spot reduction. Although you can spot tone, you can't spot reduce or in simple terms, selectively cause fat to disappear from a particular body part.
If you have a layer of fat around your middle, doing 2000 crunches every night won't suddenly make your abs pop out. They'll definitely get stronger and your waistline may become firmer, but your abs are destined to remain hidden. So what should you do?
You need to lose fat, but you can't just make it disappear from your waist alone. When you increase your exercise time and moderately cut back on calories, your body will start to burn some of your stored fat for energy. The result is fat loss... everywhere. When you drop enough fat, presto, your abs will appear out of nowhere!
3. You Have An Unbalanced Diet
In a vain attempt to lose weight, you've tried eliminating carbs and erasing fat from your diet. You seem to think that surviving on protein alone will get you that buff body you've been dreaming of. Wake up and smell the coffee, my friend!
While protein is definitely important for muscle building and repair, your body needs carbs and good fats, too. Complex carbs provide energy and fiber, while helping with the transport of vital nutrients. Fats are important, too.
If you can't figure out how to best combine the nutrient mix, get a copy of the Food Guide Pyramid and follow its minimum number of suggested servings. This works out to be about 1600 calories per day for the average person and just throw in a couple more servings of protein to cater to your muscular frame. Now you have yourself a winning combination!
4. You Are More Focused On Counting Reps
If doing 20 sit-ups is easy, why are you still stopping at 20? Although counting your reps may seem like it's helping to track your progress, it's really hindering you from making the greatest gains possible. Don't focus on a number. Instead, concentrate on the muscles being worked. Feel the abs contract.
Slowly keep repeating the motion until your muscles fatigue. When you can't perform even one more rep, then take a break. Wait a few moments for the burn to subside, then start again. Some people do ab exercises for the duration of a couple of songs in the gym while others perform three sets of three different ab movements. It's up to you to pick your poison. Just be sure you're putting your heart into your workout!
5. Your Technique Sucks
Momentum is your enemy. Swinging your body and simply going through the motions won't give you any ab development. How can it, if your muscles aren't working? Rather than jerking your head forward when crunching, or kicking your legs during raises, it's important to try and keep your body as motionless as possible. Make the targeted muscles do their thing. Once again, concentration is paramount.
Be certain you can feel the abs contract. To prevent cheating, keep the movements slow and deliberate. Try counting your way to the top position of an exercise, then keeping the beat on the way back to the start. Oh yeah, don't forget to breathe.
6. Not Drinking Enough Water
You've been told time and time again to drink at least eight glasses of water a day but do you? If your goal is to develop a muscle-bound body, complete with a washboard stomach, you must tip back about a gallon of water a day.
|WATER INTAKE CALCULATOR|
While water does not provide energy in the same way carbs and fat do, it plays an essential role in energy formation. Let's face it, water is the liquid of life. It transports nutrients throughout your body and ships out waste products. Water also acts as a lubricant and coolant.
When it comes to fat burning, water is your best friend. Drinking enough helps your kidneys filter waste products. Cut your intake and your kidneys can't perform up to par, so they will turn to your liver for help. Distract your liver and it can't focus on fat burning, the chore you want it working on full time.
7. No Training Variety
There's a reason why pro cyclists find uphill climbs practically easy and gymnasts can stand on their hands until the cows come home. Their muscles are used to such demands. Believe it or not, your muscles are probably quite accustomed to the tasks you regularly ask them to perform, too.
If you've been doing tons of crunches for the last three months, they likely seem kind of easy now. Bet you can squeeze out 50 reps without a major burn. But what would happen if you tried another ab exercise, say side crunches or leg lifts? You'll quickly find the moves tougher than usual, even painfully so. You're challenging your muscles to do something different and forcing them to work hard again. If you want great abs that are as functional as they are aesthetically pleasing, you need to put variety in your training routine.
8. Wimpy Cardio Sessions
Originally, walking on a treadmill at a snail's pace for 20 minutes seemed to be changing your body for the better. Now, your progress has stagnated and your abs give no indication of peeking through. What do you do? Pick up the pace, Einstein!
If you have fat to burn, you need to chew through those excess calories. That means you have to get active. Boost your cardio session to 30 or 40 minutes and see how your body responds. If you're not getting the results you're after, add more cardio workouts to your weekly program. What's stopping you from doing something aerobic on a daily basis?
It doesn't have to be contrived and boring. No matter what your activity of choice, make certain you're performing it with some intensity. If you're not breaking a sweat, you're definitely not trying very hard. You're going to have to make an effort to see those abs!.
9. Unknowingly Training Hip Flexors, Not Abs
Guess what? All those leg raises you're doing may be training your hip flexor muscles more than your abdominals. Hip flexors are those corded strands connecting your legs to your pelvis. They're the muscles put to work to raise your legs into a jackknife position. Your abs really aren't put into play until your lift your knees higher than hip level.
Next time you perform hanging leg raises, don't stop when your legs are parallel to the floor. Contract your abs and lift them as high as you can. The day your feet can touch the overhead bar is the day you know you've got abdominal muscles worth bragging about. Just look at any gymnast and you will understand my point.
10. Too Much Partying
How often do you go out with the gang and drink until you're giddy? What about romantic dinners complete with wine or champagne? I hate to put a damper on your social life but all of that alcohol may be the dirty culprit that's preventing your six-pack from showing through. Cocktails are loaded with calories.
A glass of wine has about 90 calories, a beer around 150, and a Screwdriver - which is the tastiest of the bunch - has about 200 calories per glass. Now, you do the math - all of these excess and empty calories can quickly accumulate into unwanted fat. Not only that, alcohol has been proven to reduce your normal rate of fat-burning. If you continue your wild ways, you're bound to get a mini beer gut and you can definitely kiss your abs goodbye!
In the end, if you follow these basic guidelines, just about any ab routine will work. I believe that there is no one magical ab routine which will deliver results but if you train hard, train smart, and eat right, your abs have no choice but to shine. So what are you waiting for?!