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Men's Top 7 Abdominal Training Mistakes

4. Avoiding Resistance Training

You need to train your midsection, but other muscle groups are just as important.

Your midsection contains parts of muscles from other parts of your body. Tendons from other muscle groups (such as the latissimus dorsi and trapezius in the back and the hamstrings in legs) extend into and across the trunk area. The rectus abdominus is one long muscle rather than six individual muscles. What gives it the “six-pack” appearance are tendons that extend from other muscle groups and intertwine in this area. Training other muscles is important for strengthening your abs.

In addition, the muscles that reside around your waist help to stabilize the body. Anytime you exercise with weights, your abdomen must activate to stabilize the body. Research studies have shown that trunk muscles are highly stimulated during traditional strength-training exercises.

Finally, total body resistance training workouts will burn more calories compared to abdominal-only exercise. Weight training can expend about 6 to 10 calories for every minute you exercise. A 30-minute strength workout can burn fat that is stored around your waist.

5. Not Eating Properly

It's extremely difficult to expend the amount of calories contained in a triple cheeseburger and fries (more than 1,000). Exercise will greatly improve your overall health, but you also have to pay attention to the food you eat if you really want to lose a significant amount of belly fat. 

One pound of fat contains about 3,500 calories. That means that if you want to lose 1 pound of fat per week, then you must burn or negate 500 calories each day. For example, if you replace a 20-ounce bottle of regular soda with water (saving 250 calories) and walk 2 to 3 miles (burning about 250 calories) everyday, then you could lose 1 pound of fat per week. 

For more information on how to eat properly, visit www.choosemyplate.gov, or ask your doctor to refer you to a registered dietitian, especially if you have a medical condition like diabetes. Also, consider  whether you’re making some common diet mistakes.

6. Only Dieting

Dieting without exercise is a recipe for disappointing results. When people only diet to lose body fat, they seldom succeed.

Although you can lose a significant amount of weight by dieting alone, a large portion of the weight you lose may be lean muscle and not fat.  

Exercise enhances healthy eating by expending additional stored calories. It will also ensure that most of the weight you lose will come primarily from fat. Precious lean muscle mass will be preserved or even enhanced. Exercise combined with healthy eating makes the best combination for optimal body fat loss.

7. Not Seeking Help

If you feel that you’ve tried everything but still don’t see the results you are after, then you may want to seek advice from a qualified personal trainer. A personal trainer is skilled in helping people achieve their fitness goals. 

But make sure you choose one who has a degree in exercise science or kinesiology and is certified by a respectable organization such as the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) or the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).

And before you participate in any exercise program, it is important that you seek medical assessment and clearance, especially if you have a special need or are recovering from an injury. Not all exercise programs are suitable for everyone, and some could even cause harm. If you experience pain or discomfort while performing an exercise, you should discontinue participation and seek medical advice.  

Michael R. Esco, PhD, CSCS, HFS is an Assistant Professor in The Department of Physical Education and Exercise Science and Co-Director of the Human Performance Laboratory at Auburn University Montgomery, in Montgomery, Ala. His opinions and conclusions expressed here are his own.

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