Gyms, exercise equipment stores, and personal trainers continue to perpetuate the common myths about abdominal exercise because they are the backbone of the exercise sales industry, and because they have been believed for so long that no one questions them. Before you begin a program to train your abs, check out these common misconceptions.
Myth #1: You need a gadget to train your abdominal muscles.
Although roller equipment may help the novice to understand the principles of the crunching movement, the floor works better than any piece of equipment ever will. Most tools designed to train your abs will actually strengthen your back and hips instead. Another benefit? Using the floor to work your abs is free!
Myth #2: Sit-ups are better than crunches.
Nope…Crunches are actually better for the abs than regular sit-ups because once your shoulders clear the floor, you’re working hip and back muscles more than your working abdominal muscles. So instead of killing yourself with sit-ups, take the time to learn how to do the perfect crunch.
Myth #3: You can get rid of “love handles” through crunches alone.
This is another common misconception about abdominal workouts. Any time you want to reduce fat on your body, you must change your eating habits. So many people believe that simply working out will get rid of body fat…and it will, as long as you stop stuffing your face with burgers, fries, and milkshakes!
Myth #4: You should put your entire body into working your abs.
Actually, involving the head, neck or legs in abdominal exercise not only reduces the effectiveness of your workout, but can lead to injury. Instead, put your hands behind your head without lacing your fingers, slide your shoulders down, and tilt your chin slightly so that there is about a fists worth of space between your chin and your chest. You should maintain this position throughout the course of your exercise for the most effective workout.
Using your legs during an abdominal workout isn’t really harmful, but it isn’t really helpful either. Remember that you should work each muscle group individually for the best outcome.
Myth #5: Arching your back makes abdominal exercise more effective.
Arching your back actually reduces the amount of work your abdominal muscles are doing and is likely to result in chronic back pain. Instead, let your back do what feels natural and leave no more than two inches of space between your back and the floor.
Now that we have busted all the myths that come with abdominal exercise, you should be able to start working toward a flat stomach without risking injury.