They don’t create abs. Plain and simple.
Photos: Instagram @tiffhall_xo
Once upon a time, there was a horrible, terrible story of fake news going round, that the only way to get abs was through hundreds and thousands of ab crunches. Spoiler alert: that’s just as wrong as a poorly fitted toupee.
That’s simply not the case – and here are all the other misguided myths about getting abs that you need to let go of. Like, yesterday.
Fitness Myth One: A bikini-ready 6 pack means you have to train daily
This is just not true. Why would you need to approach training your abs any differently from toning other parts of your body? All of your muscle groups need to be trained and pushed through a full range of different movements, allowing them to rebuild and recover. Twice a week of ab training is enough, and never train your abs on consecutive days.
Fitness Myth Two: You need to do hundreds of crunches to see great (or any!) abs
DON’T BE SILLY. Guess what? Your abs are a muscle just like every other muscle (stay with me as I get fancy, also known as the rectus abdominus) and you have to train them just like you would your legs or arms. If you want some definition there, you have to work and build it up. I can see the panic in your face, don’t let the word ‘build’ freak you out! Your tummy isn’t about to bulge out, your ab muscles are flat and compact. If tone and lines is the name of your game, it’s important to build the ab muscle so it sits on top of the tendons. Worried you don’t know how to build muscle? That’s why I’m here! Say see ya to crunching out endless reps. It’s time to embrace progressive resistance training, do sets with weights and slowly increase the load over time.
Fitness Myth Three: You can crunch out a rubbish diet
NOT EVEN A LITTLE! It’s important to learn that you cannot out-train a bad diet, and you certainly can’t out crunch one either! We all have abs, some have a better hiding spot than others. It’s our body fat percentage determines if we get to see them or not. Low body fat means you will be able to see your abs, and this comes from diet. 80% of your weight loss happens in the kitchen! Eat clean, watch your portions, allow yourself the sometime splurge (it’s all about moderation!) and soon those abs will be revealed.
Fitness Myth Four: The crunch is the best abdominal exercise
Nope. Sure, crunches mean you’ll target your ab muscles through isolation, however, isolation exercises won’t tone as well as exercises that involve a larger group of muscles.
Your body knows what’s happening and our muscles were created to peak when working together with other muscles. To involve the lower back, try some hip flexors, pelvic floor exercises and obliques. I personally love oblique twists,, v snaps and leg raises. Kicking and punching is also a fantastic way to work your core through rotation and power. Core is our aim, not training abs. The core is involved in stabilising every exercise from a pushup, to a plank, a squat or training your back. Plyometric movements (anything with a jump) and anything with a twist or a rotation are great ways to work your abs and your core. The best way to crunch those abs and work that core are exercises like continuous hook punches and front kicks. Martial Arts is one of the best methods to sculpt your body as it incorporates the core in every movement, burning the most amount of fat of any exercise whilst training the core. I love using Martial Arts in my fitness program at TIFFXO as I get to see the best six pack results from my member Ninjas!
Fitness Myth Five: Crunches work the abs AND burn the fat
I WISH! Wouldn’t that be nice! Crunches work your abs (or now we know the proper term, the rectus abdominus), your six pack muscles that run from your ribcage to the pelvis. They look nice and pretty but they are not going to help build your strength. I like to think of them as “mirror muscles”, they look great in the mirror but it’s just as important to train the muscles we can’t see. It’s time to shift your emphasis to training your core. The difference being the core includes the lower back, stomach, hips and glutes, and also the pelvic floor. It’s important to look after these muscles as they work in harmony to stabilize the spine, keep you upright, allows you to bend, rotate and twist. Think of it this way, every movement you make, your core is engaged. The stronger your core, the stronger your whole body will be. As much as we can wish and hope, crunches don’t burn your belly fat. You can’t spot reduce fat, that really is the stuff of fairytales! Have a look at your diet and training and try a full body exercise program to burn your fat. TIFFXO is designed for maximum results with a holistic lifestyle change rather than a boot camp.
Fitness Myth Six: Ab works means better posture and less back pain
WRONG! If anything, a bad crunch will hurt your back and ravage your posture more. Focus on core work for better posture and to help relieve your back pain. As a trainer I totally get how hard it is to do a proper crunch without being taught the technique and it hurts me to my core (see what I did there) when I see a bad technique. Poor crunch procedures can lead to worse back pain.
Ready for an Ab workout to push you to your core? Try this. Complete each of the following exercises for 30 seconds with a 10 second rest. Complete 3 rounds of all 7 exercises.
1. V-snap to pushup with a sexy roll
This exercise works your whole body, focusing on your core and adding a cardio twist. ‘Cos as we just learnt, we can’t spot reduce fat, so it makes sense to combine a core strengthening exercise with full body functional movements to burn those calories away.
First up, the V-snap.
- Lie on your back, pushing your belly button down into your spine so there is no space between your lower back and the floor.
- Lift your hands over your head in a straight line.
- Then make a V with your bod.
- Lift your toes and your arms at the straight time. Reach for your toes. Keep your legs straight. This is the snap!
- Then lower your arms and legs down.
Now for the roll…
- Roll over on your elbow, kicking one leg over so you end up in a pushup position. The trick is to roll on your elbow and forearm. And to roll fast! The faster we move, the more calories we burn Ninja.
In push-up posie, perform one pushup. You can perform this move on your knees or toes.
Once the pushup is done and dusted, drop down onto your other elbow and sexy roll onto your back and throw your arms over your head ready to snap!
2. Plank butt kicks
This is an awesome move, because it not only builds strength through the core, but by adding the butt kicks you add a cardio twist. Winning! Buh bye calories. Try to hold the plank for 30 seconds or longer. But remember, keep the butt DOWN and hips UP!
- Start by dropping down into a push up position
- Bend your elbows and rest your weight onto your forearms and not on your hands.
- Your body should form a straight line from shoulders to ankles like well, a plank. Duh!
- Engage your core by sucking your belly button into your spine and don’t drop your hips. You can push your butt up to the sky to make it easier. It’s all about that feeling that core holding strong like a belt.
- Hold this position and now add the special ingredient, butt kicks. One leg at a time, curl your heel up to your butt then, kick your own butt. Replace the foot whilst still holding the plank position and kick the other leg, kick your own butt. Do it again and again. Feel free to go as fast as you can.
3. Guard sit up with jab, cross punches
This is the AB-solutely best for strengthening your core. The full range of movement engages your core and the cross body punches forces you to reach and extend across your body so that you work the oblique muscles too. Tight obliques will cinch in that waist!
- Start on your back with your feet together and your heels touching tucked up towards your butt so that your hips are rotated and your knees are pointing to the side – kinda like a butterfly.
- Bring your guard up to your chin.
- Curl up and as your shoulders pass over your hips, reach one arm across your body in a punch, then the other arm across your body in a punch.
- Curl your spine back down to the floor.
- Make sure you keep your belly button pulled into your spine.
4. Round-the-world sit-ups
This exercise is a Taekwondo exercise we use for ground self-defence but it is an awesome cardio ab move. It is designed to teach you how to move your body around on the floor and keep your attacker in sight whilst keeping your guard up to protect your body.
This is a solid way to work your obliques and abs whilst keeping the exercise cardio so you burn calories. And…it’s totally fun! It is very important you keep your belly button stapled down to your spine to engage the core. Don’t use your hands for momentum, keep them tucked in guard position. Inhale as you lift your hips, exhale as you pivot your hips to the side crunch your upper body down to your knees.
- Lie on your back with your guard up.
- Raise your knees up to your chest.
- Lift your hips, lead with your butt and pivot your hips to one side.
- Crunch your upper body down towards your knees exhaling as you do, and crunching through the abs.
- Continue to lift your hips, pivot your butt to the side, crunch the abs in a circular motion.
- Complete one 360 degree round of sit ups then go anticlockwise to work the other side of the obliques
5. High knees, with boxing oblique twists
Twisting through the trunk helps to slim the waist and work the obliques so you achieve beautiful curves through the midsection. High knees makes this move cardio, whilst the rotation of the torso works the entire core – so you strengthen your abs whilst burning belly fat – pretty cool huh? The real trick to this exercise is to make sure you keep those hips square to the front. Whatever you do, don’t drop those knees, keep them nice and high just like your heart rate.
- Run on the spot lifting your knees up high to your bellybutton with your hands in a guard position snug under your chin, both elbows pointing to your hips and your forearms facing the front.
- Once you have the hang of the high knees add in upper body twists side to side so your elbow meets the opposite knee. Remember to keep those knees high, hips forward. And most importantly, pull the belly button into your spine to switch on your core. Now tense!
6. Curtsie squat with hands in prayer position to side knee strike (known in the biz as mareup chigi)
This is a fantastic low impact exercise that uses all the muscles in the body, plus you can imagine you’re meeting the Queen with every squat. This is a great way to do a standing sit up to target the sides of the stomach. This move also tones the legs and obliques to shrink and tone the waist
Perform this exercise for 20 seconds then take a ten second chill out rest. Repeat twice on each leg.
- Step one leg behind you on the diagonal and sink down into a curtsie keeping your hands still in prayer position so there’s tension in your arms.
- Keep both feet facing the front, and your hips facing the front as you lunge down.
- Then pick up your back foot and crunch your knee up towards your armpit.
- Don’t move your arms.
- You should feel your side obliques flex.
7. Upper cuts non-stop Let’s finish this strong and hard Ninjas! And I’m talking non stop Upper Cuts.
You want to be driving your fists up to your chin, tucking your elbows in, and staying as light on your feet as you can. Get down low, and go go go! Uppercuts work the abs and obliques from that digging motion from your fist on your hip up to the chin. Make sure you pull your belly button into your spine.