The solely technique to actually lean up your midsection is to lean up your total physique with a mix of weight coaching, correct food regimen and cardio.

By Aaron Loynes MPT, CSCS and Brent Seegraves MPT, CSCS

As bodily therapists, our sufferers usually ask us questions relating to train and health. By far the commonest query is, “What exercise can I do to get rid of this belly and make my stomach flat?” Now to the educated reader, this query could appear somewhat foolish – everyone knows there’s no “one exercise” that may make your abdomen flat; however on nearer evaluation it’s simple to know the confusion most of the people has relating to train and health. One has solely to look at TV for an hour on a Saturday and also you’ll little question see no less than one advert for a weight reduction product or “miracle” stomach exerciser. “It only takes minutes from your day to achieve a lean, beach-worthy body!”

Now everyone knows this isn’t true – however the commercials will be convincing. This put up will try and clear up among the frequent misconceptions about fats loss and stomach coaching.

Ab anatomy.

First, let’s assessment the anatomy of the rectus abdominis – your “six-pack” muscle. The rectus abdominis originates from the fifth by seventh ribs and inserts to the symphysis pubis. The sheet of muscle is definitely six whole muscle tissue enclosed inside fibrous tissues, three on both sides with the linea alba separating them within the heart. As the rectus abdominis contracts, it pulls the attachments nearer to one another as clearly demonstrated when one performs a crunch or sit-up.

“Lower abs” fantasy.

Anatomy is fairly reduce and dry – but some argue that abdominals are divided into an “upper” and “lower” part and that every part will be remoted with sure workouts. This concept is ridiculous – it will be the identical as claiming you would isolate the higher portion of your bicep muscle from the decrease portion with a particular kind of curl. When a muscle contracts, the chemical and electrical indicators for contraction unfold by all of the fibers of the muscle, inflicting a contraction. Anatomically there’s no different insertion level in the midst of the muscle stomach. It attaches on the ribs and the pelvis.

How would you activate one portion and never the opposite? If you’re very gifted or have tight muscle management, you wouldn’t must train your abs. Use this analogy: Take a rubber band, reduce it in order that it appears like spaghetti or string. Now maintain it at every finish between your right- and left-hand thumbs and index fingers with rigidity on the band. The band is your rectus abdominis, the left-hand finish of the band is your rib attachment, and the right-hand finish is your pelvis attachment. Imagine you’re performing a crunch. Let your left hand come towards your proper hand as if the rectus abdominis was concentrically contracting. Did the precise or left half of the rubber band do extra work? They’re equal! Regardless of the train carried out, assuming it’s biomechanically right in kind, the outcomes are at all times the identical. The rectus abdominis prompts as a unit.

Now why would folks imagine you'll be able to isolate one half of the muscle over the opposite half? It’s a fantasy that’s been round since folks first began coaching their abs – crunches for the “upper abs” and leg lifts for the “lower abs.” Again, let’s take a look at it logically – the stomach muscle tissue don’t connect to the legs, so why would a leg carry isolate the decrease abs? The simple reply right here is, “It doesn’t.”

When you carry out hanging leg raises, you’re calling your hip flexor musculature into play because the preliminary prime movers whereas your abdominals do the work of stabilizing your pelvis. At the highest of the motion, until you do it unsuitable like 80 % of the folks I see on the health club, your pelvis will curl up and your abs will take over the motion, providing you with a whole contraction of the muscle. So, in essence what you’re feeling is a extra full, stronger contraction of the abdominals than you expertise with conventional crunches. You haven’t remoted one portion of the muscle from the opposite. Other examples which purport to strengthen the legendary decrease abs are workouts the place you lie in your again, carry your legs within the air and kick them up and down – once more your abs are working isometrically as a stabilizer whereas your hip flexors transfer your legs up and down (keep in mind, abs don’t connect to the legs) – the burn you’re feeling is probably your iliopsoas muscle tissue and your abs from a protracted isometric.

Training your abs.

So, what’s a great efficient technique to absolutely work your rectus abdominis? The most secure, best technique to do it's with a crunch whereas the hip flexors are reciprocally inhibited – don’t fear, we’ll clarify: Lie on the ground in your again together with your toes up on a chair (or stool, or ball) and squeeze your heels into the article underneath your toes to get a light-weight hamstring contraction; squeeze your glutes (which can roll your hips again barely); and now carry out your crunches. You solely must crunch up far sufficient to carry your shoulder blades off the ground to get a whole contraction. Why is that this efficient? Using your hamstrings and glutes throughout the train causes your hip flexor musculature to close down, making it simpler to isolate the abs. If the low again stays in touch with the ground and a four-second managed rely (two seconds up and two seconds down) is carried out, the abdominals will scream for mercy.

Spot discount.

Please take into account that irrespective of how a lot you're employed the stomach muscle tissue, you gained’t magically develop the six-pack you need until you clear away the layers of fats obscuring the muscle tissue. According to lots of the infomercials for magical stomach train units, you'll be able to burn all of your midsection fats by performing workouts with their system for simply three minutes a day. Again, the educated client is already conscious that spot discount is a fantasy, nevertheless it bears repeating: It’s physiologically unimaginable to decide on the place your physique will burn fats. Read that once more. When you carry out an exercise that’s cardio in nature and you start to wish extra gas, your physique will pull the gas from its fats shops. Your physique will pull from in all places to produce the gas and there’s no method you'll be able to inform your physique to take it from a particular space.

So, what concerning the claims of “magical” fats loss from an stomach train? Let’s take a look at essentially the most environment friendly fats burning cardio train – cross-country snowboarding. What makes this train so good? It makes use of nearly each muscle group within the physique and requires huge quantities of energy to keep up the exercise at a excessive degree for a chronic interval – about 200 energy in 10 minutes for a 200-pound man, in reality. Weightlifting burns roughly 45 energy in 10 minutes. Many of those magical stomach fats burner machines are nothing greater than a sit-up carried out towards resistance – principally a weight coaching train – so it will take nearly 50 minutes of performing the train to burn the identical variety of energy you'll burn cross-country snowboarding for 10 minutes! It appears pretty illogical then that utilizing your “Miracle Abdominator 4,000,001” for six minutes a day goes to present you a lean, tight midsection in simply three brief weeks as promised. The solely technique to actually lean up your midsection is to lean up your total physique with a mix of weight coaching, correct food regimen and cardio.


Anderson J, Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy seventh Edition, Williams and Wilkins 1980.

Kendall F, McCreary E, Provance P, Muscles Testing and Function 4th version. Wilkins and Wilkins 1993.

Netter FH, Atlas of Human Anatomy 2nd version. Novartis 1997.

Norkin C, Levangie P, Joint Structure and Function 2nd Edition. FA Davis 1992.

Rosato F, Fitness for Wellness third version. West Publishing Company 1994.

The put up Biggest Fat Loss Myths: first appeared on FitnessRX for Women.