Top Ab Exercise Myths

Myth #1 – The “Six Pack” is a Group of Muscles

What is commonly referred to as the “six pack” is not six separate muscles as some believe, but one muscle called the rectus abdominis. The rectus abdominis is one long muscle that runs the length of the torso from the pubic bone to mid-chest. The function of the rectus abdominis is to pull the torso toward the hips and vice versa. It has tendinous intersections within the muscle that give it the appearance of being six separate muscles. Thus, when you are working your “lower abs” or “upper abs” you are actually working the same muscle.

Myth #2– Doing Sit-ups are the best way to get a six pack

For decades, the sit-up has been widely accepted as an effective abdominal exercise. Thus, for someone just getting into the game of abdominal exercise, the sit-up is a logical choice. However, recent studies show that the sit-up movement is not considered one of the more effective abdominal exercises and the movement also puts an unhealthy level of stress on your spinal cord.

Myth #3 – Electrical stimulation is the best way to get a six-pack

EMS (Electronic Muscle Stimulation) technology works by sending electronic impulses to the muscles via electrodes placed on the skin. The original application of this technology was for rehabilitative physical therapy and is successful for this use. However, it has never been proven to be effective for weight loss or muscle toning. Claims of weight loss, muscle growth or muscle strengthening by the manufacturers’ of these machines and gadgets are simply unfounded. The American Council for exercise conducted an 8 week study using an average in home model EMS. After eight weeks of EMS training, it was concluded that “subjects experienced no significant changes in weight, body-fat percentage, strength or overall appearance”.

Myth #4 – The Abs Should be Worked Every Day

This myth is based on the assumption that your abdominal muscles differ from other muscle groups. The fact is that abdominal muscle tissue is nearly identical in composition to all other muscles of the body. Muscles require rest to recover and grow, as exercising causes micro tears which must be repaired. It is as the body repairs these small tears, that the muscles become larger and stronger. Yet, when it comes to abdominal exercise, many people ignore this simple fact, and choose to over-train their abs on a daily basis. This trend may have developed due to professional bodybuilder’s routines, which incorporate daily ab exercise before a competition. However, this is a temporary increase in training, and their normal schedule leaves recovery time for their abs to heal.

Myth #5 – Ab Machines Provide a Better Workout Than Conventional Ab Workout Methods

Lets face it, the popularity of ab machines and ab gadgets have little to do with the actual end result obtained, but because of slick advertising that overstates the benefits. Who can resist trying out the newest and best ab machine on the market shown in the infomercial with claims such as: “Get ripped abs in a week!” or “lose 20 lbs. in 2 weeks!” or “best way to get ripped!” A “quick fix” solution is becoming a much more appealing option than other “mundane” solutions such as “watching your diet”. The primary benefit of ab machines on the market today is to provide support for the back and neck. By taking the strain off the back and neck, you are able to target muscles such as the abdominal rectus and oblique’s more effectively. However, the most obvious limitation of ab workout equipment is they are designed for ab exercises performed only in one position. For example, the ab roller and similarly designed equipment are designed for exercises performed lying flat on your back such as the conventional sit-up and crunch. However, vital to abdominal development is variety. The most effective way to stimulate your muscles and promote growth is accomplished by changing up your ab workout routine by doing a variety of exercises that work your abdominal muscles at different angles. This is where ab machines fall short.

Myth #6 – Ab Belt Devices Provide the Same Benefits as Ab Exercises

Although this technology has been shown to be effective for rehabilitative physical therapy, it has never been proven to be effective for weight loss or muscle toning. There is not a single independent clinical study that supports the claims of weight loss, muscle growth or muscle strengthening’. In an eight-week study conducted by The American Council for Exercise using a popular EMS home model, it concluded that “subjects experienced no significant changes in weight, body-fat percentage, strength or overall


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