Abs - Myth and Reality

Written by: Lee on 10th Feb 2011

With all of the telemarketing and shopping channels flogging new and ‘revolutionary’ pieces of kit every day, that are all guaranteed to turn us into fitness models in 6 weeks, it’s getting harder and harder for people to understand how to train for a 6 pack, or even a flat stomach.

The Myth

Doing Sit up after Sit up will give you a 6 pack. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case, the same can be said for every ab machine on the market. There is no way to target fat loss in specific areas, our bodies have pre determined orders for fat loss that we have to accept and work with. Great examples would be various world record holders for Sit ups, who don’t have an ab muscle in sight when breaking these records.

The Reality

Ab muscles will only become visible with controlled diet (not meaning fad diets) and a full and complete exercise regimen. To see the ab muscles we need to reduce body fat levels and the only way to do this is by burning off more calories than we consume. It’s important to include weight training with any cardio programme as performing exercises such as the Squat, Dead lift and Olympic lifts will all help cut body fat levels while building the core muscles you need for that dream stomach. Until body fat levels are reduced to those where you start to see the ab muscles, the focus should be on building core strength in any ab routine, based around exercises such as the Plank and Side plank. Once the ab muscles do start to show, be sure to use a varied programme that will target lower and upper abs, obliques (the muscles down the side of the 6 pack) and lower back to ensure you avoid muscle imbalances.
Although a brief and simple explanation, hopefully this will give an idea of how to go about getting a flatter stomach. Do include weights in a routine as the benefits are worth it and don’t be surprised if the latest fad doesn’t deliver what it promised.


I have always been amazed at

I have always been amazed at how much money people throw away buying the latest exercise equipment because they think it will give them flat abs or toned thighs. The only way to get flat abs is to work at it and not just with exercise!

Very important article.

Very important article. People all around the country think they can target weight loss because of this false information spread. In my view, it shouldn't be legal to spread such false advertising.

I didn't buy into any of the

I didn't buy into any of the gimmicks they have out there for your abs. This was interesting, thanks! My question is how do I get rid of the love handles? I can feel the difference in my stomach and abs and now I want to work on the love handles too. Can you help me there?

It may well just be a case of

It may well just be a case of your body following what has been discussed above and the love handles will be the last to go. If this is the case then perseverance will be the key to your success.
However, what I've found with myself and clients is that poor water intake will lead to the body retaining water in these areas. Increasing fluid intake during the day has worked with reducing the problem.

This part of your piece caught my attention......

"Our bodies have pre determined orders for fat loss that we have to accept and work with."

This part of your piece caught my attention. Could you expand on this further? Is this an individual thing, or are there general principles you can enlighten me on?

Everybody is different but

Everybody is different but generally your body will hold onto fat on your stomach, love handles, bum, thighs or any combination of these. This will also be the first place it stores fat. Some people will have a more all round spread of fat levels. The majority of people I speak to have difficulty shifting the last bit of fat covering their lower abdominals, even though the rest of the body is lean, the problem being, it is both their last place to lose fat and the first place they store it.

This shouldn't be taken as certain areas will never lose fat but that an extra bit of hard work and control may be necessary to help with a few stubborn areas.

In the context of the blog, it's up to you to determin how much body fat you can lose, but your body will choose where you lose it. So overall healthy living, a well rounded training programme and patience is the only way to achieve (and maintain) that dream stomach.

Presumably though, even

Presumably though, even though you cannot determine the order that your body uses the fat, you can help things along by toning up the muscles underneath?

Yes, this is one of the

Yes, this is one of the frustrating parts of getting in shape. My trouble areas are my thighs and lower abdomen. When they start looking good, I know I'll have done well.

Haha, my abs are going down

Haha, my abs are going down the drain as we speak. After the baby is born, I'll definitely need to get into a cardio routine and do some strength training to whip them back into shape.

That was very helpful

That was very helpful information - I actually thought that there was some truth to that myth! Thanks for keeping me properly informed; now I know better.

I remember I used to think

I remember I used to think crunches alone would do the trick, instead of reducing fat. I know what squats are, but what are deadlifts and Olympic lifts?

Squats and deadlifts now have

Squats and deadlifts now have links embedded in the text that you can follow. The olymic lifts (the clean and jerk and the snatch) will feature in our next library update.