1. The 'Chew Then Crunch' Myth
Crunches are good exercises for toning the abs and stomach if done properly and combined with a low fat diet. However many people think they can continue to eat what they want and end their day with 100 crunches to "work off" all the bad stuff they put in their body throughout the day.
If you're not lowering your fat intake by watching what you eat, it doesn't matter how many exercises and crunches you perform. Not only will you see zero results, but you may actually see your stomach increase in size!
This is because you're building muscle on top of the existing fat. We all have flat stomachs, it's just that for some of us have layers and layers of fat on top of that muscle we must get rid of first.
You've got to work off that existing fat first by training and toning your abs and stomach area.
I had this problem when I first started exercising. I didn't lower my caloric or fat intake much but I started doing crunches. For three months straight I did my 8-minute ab routine like clockwork. I couldn't understand why I wasn't seeing results. In fact, my stomach started protruding even more.
Well after doing lots of reading I discovered that I was going to also change my diet if I was going to see the results I wanted.
2. The Numbers Myth
Twenty-five good, quality crunches are much better than 250 half-done crunches. Many people just want to get it over with so they lie down and do as many fast crunches as they can while lacking in quality.
The best thing to do is perform 4 sets of 20-25 solid crunches while resting 90 seconds in between each set. That is a much more effective way of training your abs than 250 lackluster crunches in a row.
3. The Spot Toning Myth
This is the one that frustrates me. I have always been very thin and recently started gaining weight in my hips and thigh area. I welcomed the added pounds because it gave me a curvier figure. Unfortunately it also left we with a slightly flabby stomach.
I wanted to keep the hips and thighs but lose the stomach so I started exercising my stomach and abs by doing pilates and crunches.
Well, I didn't see any results. I discovered through reading that you can't just spot tone because if you only focus on one area (ie. your tummy), you won't raise your metabolism enough to burn that extra belly fat. So the key to flattening your stomach area is to increase your body's metabolism so it can effectively get rid of those layers of excess tummy fat.
A total body exercise is the key to slimming your waistline.
4. The Six Pack Myth
Whether you're a man or woman, we'd all love to have that solid six pack to show off when we're at the pool right? Well, what most people don't realize is that solid abs don't start in the gym, they start in the kitchen. If your body contains a lot of fat, your abs won't show no matter how much you exercise.
Your first goal should be to lose that fat, and it starts with your diet. Decrease the amount of fat and calories you consume and increase the amount of protein. Protein is an absolute necessity for ridding fat and building muscle.
5. The Running Myth
Did you know that running does very little when it comes to toning your stomach? This is because it can cause your pelvis to pull forward and arching of your lower back.
Don't get me wrong, running is good for you and can burn a lot of calories, but if you aren't doing any other stomach toning exercises in conjunction with running you'll see little if any results.
Hopefully you've learned that flattening your stomach is not about doing 100 crunches per day. It's about total body fitness and changing your overall diet.
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Lisa Irby is the author of http://www.flat-stomach-exercises.com, a site that encourages people to understand their bodies before they begin that ab workout.