Updated: Feb 10
Struggling to see results from your ab workouts? Don’t Worry. In this article, I will be giving the 3 most common mistakes people make while performing their abdomen exercises and the steps needed to take to fix them.
Many people in the gym are looking to get defined and chiseled 6 pack abs. The abs, when effectively targeted, can be grown and strengthened just like any other muscle. Although, people often complain about not being able to see progress within their ab routine. Also, it is difficult for some people to get an aesthetic and well-defined abdominal area.
Why is this? It’s primarily because casually doing crunches and sit-ups is likely not going to result in getting the abdominal improvement that you are searching for.
To avoid this approach, it is important to focus on how you are performing your abdominal exercises. In this article, I will lay out the 5 most common mistakes that you are likely doing when approaching ab movements.
If you are looking for a full-body workout plan that can develop more than just the abdominals, then you will benefit from one of our programs. In these programs, we give you the tools to build an aesthetic physique as well as an easy-to-follow routine that will fit any work schedule. To find out more:
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Mistake #1: Ignoring Body Fat Percentage
Many people continuously incorporate ab exercises into their routine and still do not see results. Additionally, they become frustrated with their lack of progress and get discouraged because their goal of having 6 pack abs is not met even after putting in the work. What these people do not know is that a necessary component when it comes to abdominal visibility is body fat percentage.
If a person’s body fat is too high, then they will not be able to have visible abs no matter how many abdominal exercises they do. For this reason, it is essential to know your body fat before putting all your focus on ab exercises. We recommend being around 10-12 percent. This way you can have the abdominal visibility you are looking for as well as being at a weight that is maintainable/healthy.
Below is a chart that shows the amount of ab visibility at different body fat percentages, so that you can see have a measurable goal to aim for.
Mistake #2: Incorrect use of Breathing
Breathing is one of the most important aspects to pay attention to when performing abdominal exercises. Many people do not put a priority on this during their workouts which directly results in the movement being less effective. In this section, I will give you clear instructions on how and when you should be breathing during your ab routine.
When performing abdominal exercises, you should exhale when you are on the portion of the movement where the abs are contracted. An example of this can be seen when performing a crunch. You should exhale at the point in the exercise where you bring your head towards your lower body and your abs are contracted. Contrarily, you should be inhaling when your abdominal region is lengthened and relaxed. Using the crunch example, this would be at the stage of the movement where your back is flat on the ground.
What this does is that it not only gives your abs a better contraction at the engaged portion of the action, but it allows for oxygen to optimally move throughout your body during exercise.
Another aspect of breathing that is important when performing abdominal exercises is to focus on breathing deeply. Breathing shallow is not optimal for exercise and may hurt your ab workouts. What I mean by this is many people breathe from their chest when performing these movements. This type of shallow breathing can limit the amount of air that you can inhale. It is recommended to breathe deep using the lower abdominals and diaphragm so that you can maximize inhalation and exhalation which will result in a better workout.
Mistake #3: Rushing through the Abdominal Workout
Another factor that many people are unaware of during an abdominal workout is how they are performing the movement. They often swing using momentum either because they are rushing through the action, or they are not capable of performing a specific progression of this exercise.
It is encouraged to perform every abdominal exercise at a moderate pace that is controlled throughout the movement. What this does is allow the abs to be under constant tension and help better work the muscles that you are targeting. If someone uses momentum, they are most likely incorporating other muscle groups into the exercise. This is an issue because it may take the attention away from the abdominal region and hurt your overall results.
An additional problem is when someone is performing a more difficult progression than they are ready for. The abdominal area is often neglected and can be weaker than other muscle groups that a person is more used to exercising. It is important to take this into account when first starting your regimen and begin your routine with movements that you can perform without strain. When people implement exercises that they are not ready for, they often compensate with the help of other muscle groups which can also take away from their ab development.
Mistake #4: Choosing the Wrong Exercises
When following an ab routine, you need to vary the ab exercises that you are doing in the gym. It is common to see people rely on crunches or sit-ups when trying to build 6 pack abs. While these exercises are good, they are not the most effective movements that can be done for the core.
Some examples of core exercises that you can include in your ab routine that can better help activate your abs are reverse crunches or planks. The reverse crunch is a great movement for the lower abs and is less commonly used than something like standard crunches. Additionally, planks can target the entire abdominal area and should be your go-to when choosing exercises for your ab routine.
If you’re looking to take your ab training to the next level, you will benefit from one of our other articles. In this, we go over the 5 best exercises for the core and how to incorporate them into a complete workout routine. To find out more:
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Mistake #5: Treating the Abs Different from Other Muscles
A mistake that comes with training abs is that people think that they do not require any rest. People are often told to train them 7 days a week with no breaks. This thinking is problematic because just like any other muscle group the abs need to be given time to recover.
We recommend training the abs 2 to 3 times a week and to vary the ab movements to target different areas of the core. For example, one day you can target the lower abs, doing movements like the reverse crunch or hanging leg raises to target this group. Another day you can target the upper abs focusing on exercises that emphasize trunk flexion like the standard crunch. Lastly, you can target the obliques by doing side crunches or an anti-movement like the side plank.
To sum this article up here are the key points you should takeaway:
Know your body fat percentage and lower it to the recommended 10-12 percent for optimal visibility.
Focus on breathing and inhale/exhale during the correct portions of the movement.
Maintain control throughout the entire exercise
Choose the correct exercises and not just basic ab movements
Give your abs a break and train them 2-3 days a week
If you’re looking for a full-body training program that is aimed at developing a strong and aesthetic physique, not just the core, you will benefit from one of our programs. We designed a program that gives you the tools to build an aesthetic physique as well as an easy-to-follow routine that will fit any schedule. To find out more:
Click below to learn more information