Week 3: Six-Pack Myths That Are Holding You Back

We all love the idea of having a rock hard six-pack. I mean, c’mon, if someone could grant you abs for life, would you turn it down? I highly doubt it.

And after seeing a friend’s killer core or some social media star’s rock-hard midsection, we’ve all wondered how to get abs like that for ourselves.

We all have a six-pack in there somewhere— it’s usually just covered up by a layer of fat. Factors like body fat, genetics, gender, stress, and muscular development all play into whether those abdominal muscles are actually visible, though.

The first step in seeing abs of your own is killing all of the abs-related myths out there. Because the reality for 99 percent of us (who didn’t win the genetic ‘eat whatever you want and still be shredded’ lottery) is this: Unveiling a six-pack takes a lot of hard work in both the gym and the kitchen.

So, without further delay, let me kill those six myths that are holding you back from a six-pack:

Myth #1: Spot-Training Will Bring Out Your Abs

Why It’s False: Targeting fat loss in one specific area just isn’t possible.You can do sit-ups until you can’t move, but it won’t make a difference in unveiling your abs if you don’t drop body fat. Sure, you may develop the muscles underneath that fat, but you can’t crunch your way to losing midsection fat.

Unfortunately, the fact that many Americans are so stressed doesn’t really help in the belly fat-shedding department. Research even shows having higher-than-normal levels of the stress hormone cortisol can make us reach for waistline-sabotaging foods and potentially lead to weight gain, especially ‘round the middle.

My tips: Cut stress where you can, make time to chill, eat right, and train hard—and eventually your abs will shine through.

Related: The Truth About Belly Fat

Myth #2: You Can Out-Exercise Crummy Eating Habits

Why It’s False: Unless you’re in the one percentile of genetic freaks out there (and trust me, you’d know if you were), what you put in your body plays a massive role in how you look. After all, you can throw back 300 calories of pure sugar or nutritionally-crappy alcohol a whole lot faster than you can burn those calories. Plus, these kinds of eating habits can wreck our blood sugar and immunity, messing with both our metabolism and our body’s ability to recover.

Tracking your macronutrients, eating whole, nutritious foods, and staying away from sweets, junk food, and booze are key for burning fat and maintaining a lean physique.

Myth #3: You Can’t Eat Carbs If You Want To See Your Abs

Why It’s False: Carbs are not the enemy! The enemy is overeating in general—whether it’s carbs, protein, or fat. We need carbs for energy and to replenish muscle glycogen after we train. Eating too few carbs will likely leave you exhausted—and mess with your muscle-gain. Like the other two macronutrients, your carb intake should reflect the macronutrient guidelines we talked about earlier. Keep your intake on track, and you’ll see the results you crave.

Related: Find a protein bar to replenish carbs and provide protein after a workout.

Myth #4: You Must Do Hundreds Of Crunches To Get Abs

Why It’s False: There are plenty of core exercises out there that can strengthen your core just as effectively (if not more effectively) than crunches or sit-ups. You don’t actually have to do a single crunch if you don’t want to! The ab wheel is one of my personal favorite core-training tools because it really lights up all those muscles—which is why you’ll be using it on your back and abs training day. Plus, big compound movements like deadlifts also recruit your core muscles, so you’re working your core in more exercises than you may realize.

Myth #5: You Need To Take A Fat-Burner To See Your Six-Pack

Why It’s False: The primary things you need to do here is track your macros, eat nutritious foods, and burn more calories than you consume (this is called a ‘calorie deficit’) to lower your body fat. Pair that with a killer training program, and you’re on your way to a more shredded middle. Some supplements (like caffeine, for example) have been shown to support fat loss when paired with a proper diet and training regimen, but they are not a requirement for getting ripped.

Myth #6: You Can ‘Shape’ Your Abs

Why It’s False: Thank Mom and Dad for this one, but genetics determine how your abs look once they’re visible. The splits, lines, width, and symmetry are all specific to you. You can train to make your abs stronger, thicker, and more defined, but no exercise can reshape the musculature traits you were born with.

I hope that killing these six myths will help you keep your head straight as your charge after your dream physique throughout these eight weeks. Until next time, eat well, train hard, and be nice to people.