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The Truth About Your Abs
What Does a Flat Stomach Really Require?

That elusive six-pack, that seemingly unattainable flat stomach - if you had them, you wouldn't be reading this, would you? There are a lot of myths when it comes to working the abdominal region, but there's nothing all that mysterious about getting those muscles firm and fit. It is true that there's a lot more to strong, well-defined abs than mere crunches (and it's actually possible to work your abs without this most basic exercise, by the way). If your abs aren't all you would like them to be, there are a number of likely reasons:

(Article continued below.)

  1. Body fat percentage
    This is probably the most common reason people lack well-defined abs. If you are carrying extra body fat in general, your abs will just not show, no matter how much you exercise them. The truth is, you have to be pretty lean if you want your ab muscles to stand out - for women, that means a body fat percentage somewhere in the teens (especially if you want to get rid of that lower abdominal pouch), lower still for men. To be perfectly honest, a body fat percentage in the teens is not achievable - or even desirable - for most females (unless, of course, they're fitness competitors). If your body fat percentage is in anywhere from 20% to the mid-20s, you shouldn't even think of losing weight! That doesn't mean, however, you should forget about those ab exercises - the muscles will still look toned, if not sharply defined, and, even more importantly, you need strong abdominal muscles for your health. Men, for the most part, have an easier time getting cut abs, but they still have to work hard for them - along with watching their diet.
  2. Improperly practicing abdominal exercises
    This is another common reason for abs that lack strength and definition. Are you one of those people who whips off 200 crunches a few times a week as your ab routine? Do you hold your breath while you're doing them? Do you do the same old crunches (or any other exercise) every time you work your abs? If you are, then you are wasting precious workout time. If you perform any exercise too fast, without concentrating on the muscle and using improper form, you are not getting the most out of it. If you are not changing your exercise routine on a regular basis and trying out different exercises, your body adapts and will stop showing improvement. This goes for all muscle groups - abdominals included. Ten or 20 crunches performed properly are far better than doing 200 wrong. And adding in different exercises - leg lifts, maybe, or reverse crunches, or bicycles - will keep your abdominal muscles challenged.
  3. Genetics
    Yes, it's true - there are some people who are just not genetically inclined to have defined abs. There's only one way, however, to know for sure if you're one of those people: if there was a time in your life where you've been in great shape, exercised properly, had good muscle tone, were slender and your abs still didn't show, then you're probably one of those people. But if you've gone through all of this, you also undoubtedly realize that strong abs are even more important than defined abs. Hopefully, the rest of you (the majority of folks) realize this, too. There are far better reasons to have strong ab muscles than just for show. We'll get into those in a bit.

The reality when it comes to your abs is that they will flourish if you have a good overall diet and fitness routine. Take care of the general requirements first, lay the foundation, and then focus on specifics. That's how to get great abs.

Next page >> The Foundation for a Flat Stomach >> Page 1, 2, 3

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