Getting Flat Abs Without Breaking a Sweat (and other fitness myths)
(and other fitness myths)
by Melody L. Schoenfeld, CPT, CSCS, CMT
MYTH 1: If I do enough crunches/ab work, I’ll have flat abs.
THE TRUTH: There’s nothing wrong with doing lots of ab work. It will help to strengthen your core and reduce lower back pain. What it will not do is flatten your abs. The fact of the matter is, we all have a “six-pack.” It’s just hidden under adipose tissue-- in other words, belly fat. If you want to see your six-pack, you need to lose the fat. There is no such thing as spot-training—you can’t work a body part and lose weight in only that body part. The only way to lose your excess fat is by exercising your entire body—not just your abs—and by adopting a sensible healthy eating plan. Your body will likely lose fat in reverse order from the way it gained fat. For most people, this means the face first, then the extremities, and the abs dead last.
It’s also important to realize that most women can’t develop a six-pack without losing an unhealthy amount of body fat. Although there are women who can healthfully develop a ripped abdominal region, most women will carry a small amount of fat over their abs.
MYTH 2: I’m a woman, so I can’t lift heavy weights or I’ll get bulky.
THE TRUTH: Unless they’re on steroids, most women simply don’t have the testosterone to gain much bulk. With a good diet and training program, you will see sexy definition, but you’re not going to look like a body builder no matter how much weight you lift.
MYTH 3: Cardio is the key to weight loss.
THE TRUTH: For every pound of muscle you gain, you burn 35-55 extra calories all day long. Cardio is a nice calorie-burner and a healthy habit, but the burn won’t last you all day. Weight training turns your body into a veritable fat-burning furnace. If I had to choose between weight training and cardiovascular work, I’d choose weight training hands-down.
MYTH 4: I don’t have a gym membership, and I don’t own weights. I can’t weight train.
THE TRUTH: You would be amazed what you can do with only your body weight, and maybe the assistance of some stretch bands and a Swiss ball . There is absolutely no excuse to remain sedentary!