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Men's Top 7 Abdominal Training Mistakes

By Michael Esco, PhD, HFS, CSCS*D
WebMD Expert Column

You exercise extra hard for “six-pack” abs, but no matter how much you sweat you’re not  seeing the results you want. It’s hard to lose abdominal fat, especially if you are not exercising correctly. Make sure you’re not guilty of one of these 7 common abdominal training mistakes.

1. Only Performing Crunches and Sit-ups

There's good reason these exercises are among the most commonly performed routines for abdominal training -- they work! However, your muscles adapt quickly to certain exercises. If this happens, they may stop responding. Changing your workout every few weeks will ensure the results keep coming. 

Also, your midsection is actually composed of more muscle groups than just the “six-pack” -- a.k.a. the rectus abdominus. Other muscles include the external and internal obliques, which are located on the side of the trunk. It is important to perform a variety of movements to fully target all of the muscles within the trunk region.

Side bridges, prone planks, hip-ups, bicycles, and Pilates are other great exercises that should be included in your routine. Incorporating stability devices can also add variety. Try performing crunches on a Swiss ball for an advanced alternative to a traditional exercise.

2. Exercising Your Abs Every Day

If you’re working your midsection on a daily basis, you are probably overdoing it. The muscles in your abdominal wall, like all other muscles in your body, need rest to fully recover and repair from a strenuous workout. A good abdominal workout should only be performed on two to three nonconsecutive days per week. 

When it comes to training your abs, the more you do does not mean the more results you will get. As a matter of fact, doing too much can actually increase the risk of injury to the lower back.

3. Avoiding Cardio

Avoiding cardiovascular exercise is the biggest mistake men make when attempting to lose belly fat. No matter how hard you try, you can’t spot-reduce. You must expend stored calories. If a layer of fat is covering your abs, then there isn’t any abdominal-specific workout that will show results without the assistance of cardio training.

Twenty to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise at a moderately strenuous intensity performed three to six days per week will expend stored calories. This will trim fat from the midsection to reveal your hidden six-pack abs. What’s more, these are the same research-supported guidelines for improving your cardiovascular fitness.

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