Updated: Oct 13, 2020
The mainstream fitness world is so full of misinformation and unscientific training practices that it is very hard to make any meaningful progress. As a result many people spend a lot of their time using very unproductive training methods. Another factor involved in this is the sale of useless supplements and expensive fitness gadgets.
For anyone serious about getting in shape, I am going to dispel five of the major myths when it comes to getting six pack abs:
Myth 1: The Spot Reduction Myth
This is the most common practice that I see in most gyms. It is a very common practice, unfortunately it has no scientific basis and simply a myth. So what does spot reduction mean? Spot reduction is the idea that you can burn fat off a specific area of the body and increase definition simply by working that area in isolation.
The truth is that this is impossible. It's simply not the way the body works. First of all the whole idea of 'toning' any part of the body through high repetitions is a complete. There is no such thing as toning. A muscle appears to be toned when the body fat surrounding the muscle is reduced. Then the muscle appears toned and you get that conditioned appearance.
So what is the key to increasing conditioning? It is simply building the muscles and then reducing the fat covering them through caloric deficit. Therefore nutrition is the key factor here as well as building the strength and size of the muscle.
Myth 2: To Get Abs You Must Do Long Grueling Ab Workouts
When I hear people tell me that they are spending their whole session working abs I just shake my head. Firstly when you engage in this practice you are assuming that the abdominal muscles are different to other muscle groups and have to be trained differently. This is false. Although certain muscle groups have some minor differences that does not mean then need to trained differently to other muscle groups.
The same rules apply to any muscle group, they need the correct amount of volume, frequency, intensity and rest! The abs do not need anything special to grow, they need to be worked like any other muscle. I always recommend that the best practice is to work any muscle group anywhere between 2 - 5 sets.
Myth 3: You Must Work Your Abs Every Day
This one in similar to the previous myth. The same rules for volume, frequency and rest apply here. You need to get it right. Too little frequency will not be enough for the body to adapt. However, on the other end of the scale too much frequency will not allow for recovery. If you work any muscle every day, it will not grow because you are not giving it the rest it needs to get bigger and stronger. You do not grow in the gym, you simply stimulate muscle, you grow when you rest. Hit the abs two to three times per week for optimal results.
Myth 4: You Need To Isolate Lower Abs and Work Them Specifically
The whole abdominal region is worked while performing compound movements. In other words they get hit indirectly. So you don't even need to isolate them at all. I am not saying do not do any isolation exercises at all but you can have clear defined abs without doing any crunches, leg raises etc. I experimented with this myself and achieved washboard abs without doing any specific ab exercises. Just the bench press, chin ups, dead-lifts, squats and overhead press. This is because the abs are worked tremendously during these exercises, especially dead lifts and squats. The rest of the equation is diet, which is the real key to reveal them. I guarantee that when you get your body fat down to single digits, your lower abs and obliques will stand out.
Myth 5: You Can Get Abs In 12 Weeks
I see this myth so often in the fitness world, especially unscrupulous personal trainers on the internet, promising ripped abs in as little as 12 weeks if you follow their programs. The truth is they are telling you what you want to hear. Now here is the thing, you can get abs in twelve weeks, but it has everything to do with your existing body-fat levels.
For example if your are around 20 percent body fat then it is certainly possible. However you are making false promises if you claim this will happen for anyone especially for someone around 30 percent body fat and above. This is simply not enough time to allow this to happen. A better thing to say is that you can see visible changes in six weeks and a complete transformation in twelve. This is very possible in twelve weeks with a solid program, but getting down to single digits will depend on your existing body fat levels.
So there you have it. I hope you have found this helpful and good luck with your training!