Stop Believing These Dumb Myths About Flat Abs

For every helpful tip regarding flat abs, there are at least a half dozen myths to accompany it. It’s sad but true — there are more falsehoods than facts out there claiming to help you get a flat, toned midsection. And if you are someone on a quest for that “dream stomach,” you definitely need to know what tips you can trust, and which you should shun. Here are a couple dumb myths about flat abs that you need to stop believing.

Myth: Anyone can have a concave stomach with visible hipbones

A woman's toned abs.

Everyone’s hip structure is different. | Nikolas_jkd/iStoc/Getty Images Plus

While anyone can make their stomach flatter, not everyone can achieve that “super skinny” look. Having a concave stomach and noticeable hipbones is a result of genetics and bone structure. Even some of the most lithe supermodels don’t have sucked-in stomachs.

Looking at this look as a “fitness goal” is unrealistic and is only setting you up for disappointment.

Fact: Toned abs aren’t always concave

Fitness female model torso with her hands on hips

Abs don’t always mean a flat stomach. | Jacoblund/iStock/Getty Images Plus

In your quest for a flatter stomach, you should be toning your abdominal muscles to burn fat. (More on toning exercises in just a second.) This will make your stomach flatter, but keep in mind that toned abs tend to jut out ever-so-slightly. Don’t be discouraged by this — it means you have a fitter, healthier abdominal region.

Myth: Crunches target stomach flab

A group of women attend a pilates class.

Pilates alone will do nothing to tone your stomach. | Antonio Diaz/iStock/Getty Images Plus

We at The Cheat Sheet have touched on this myth many times, but it needs to be reiterated. There is no such thing as an exercise that targets fat loss at one area of the body. Exercises such as crunches will build your abdominal muscles, but they do not eliminate fat. You can only burn off fat by doing cardiovascular exercise. Which brings us to …

Fact: Cardio is what burns fat

A group of women do planks at the gym.

Planks and cardio moves should be part of your ab routines. | Bojan89/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Crunches, side bends, and burpees are going to work your core muscles. You have to combine these exercises with a cardiovascular workout at least three times a week in order to shrink your midsection. Consider adapting a couple different forms of cardio — swimming, biking, aerobics — into your weekly workout regimen to get the best results and keep you from getting bored. Livestrong.com offers great tips on cardiovascular exercise that helps burn belly fat.

Myth: You don’t have to change your diet

A man eats a hamburger with all the fixings.

Even if you’re hitting the gym daily, fast food should be an occasional treat. | Kzenon/iStock/Getty Images Plus

It doesn’t matter how speedy your metabolism is, there’s no way to out-exercise a bad diet. The only way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you put into your body. So if you follow up your spin class by grabbing a beer and appetizers with your friends, you are doing yourself and your dreams of flatter abs a huge disservice.

Fact: What you eat is paramount

A happy couple cooks a healthy meal at home.

Meal prepping at home makes it easy to eat healthy all week long. | SolisImages/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Flat abs really are made in the kitchen. To reach your flat stomach fitness goals, pair your exercise regimen with a food menu that won’t make your belly bulge. Think fiber, lean protein, whole grains, and greens.

Oh, and if you are in need of a snack, reach for almonds or yogurt. The salty snacks you typically crave cause bloat and will make your stomach stick out.

Myth: Vibrating machines can flatten your abs for you

A woman observes her stomach for abs.

Don’t buy into miracle products. | Roberto David/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Crazy machines and gadgets that claim to shrink your midsection are a huge myth. The most intriguing, and unbelievable, is any machine like the Ab Gymnic belt that supposedly uses electrical muscle stimulation to build your ab muscles for you.

Now, it’s true that EMS has been used in the medical field to help underweight patients maintain core muscle. However, there is no evidence to support that such a device does drastic enough work to give you a flatter, more defined stomach.

Fact: There is no miracle machine. It takes hard work.

A gang of girls enjoy a class at the gym.

Don’t give up — abs aren’t built in a day! | Vadim Guzhva/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Getting flatter abs takes work. There’s no way around that. You have to set goals for yourself and maintain a healthy lifestyle in order to create the type of abdominal region you so desire. Trust us, you will reap the rewards when you reach your ab goals. Plus you will be much more satisfied with your flatter midsection after you put in all that hard work.

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