Logging tons of time on the mat but don’t have the midsection to show for it? Bad intel may be to blame. Brent Brookbush, author of Fitness or Fiction: The Truth About Diet and Exercise, sets the record straight on three common midsection misconceptions:
Strengthening your abs will get you a six-pack.
That coveted rippled-belly effect is the natural shape of a rectus abdominis, the muscle that that runs vertically down the front of your tummy. Strength moves condition it, but you won’t see sexy cuts if the muscle is hidden under a layer of fat. To lose the flab, do high-intensity cardio and consume fewer calories than you burn.
The upper and lower abs can be worked separately.
You can’t isolate a specific part of the rectus abdominis during an exercise. When it contracts, it does so along the entire length.
Crunches alone will contour your core.
This old go-to does strengthen the rectus abdominis. But to sculpt your entire middle, you need to do moves that fire up the obliques (the muscles along the sides of your waist) and transverse abdominis (the muscle that runs horizontally across your belly) too. Add planks and twist to the mix for a well-rounded plan.