The 3 Biggest Myths About Building Six-Pack Abs



Six pack abs are the foundation of 'glamor' muscles. Knocking biceps out of the top spot, a shredded stomach is going to turn more heads on the beach than someone yelling, “Shark!”

Despite being the holy grail of fitness goals for many people, the amount of misinformation that is still circulating is staggering. Let’s take a look at the top 3 biggest myths about building a six pack and what you should be doing instead.

1. Crunches Are King (Right?)

No, crunches are not the 'king' of abdominal exercises. Not even close.

Yes, crunches can certainly be (and should certainly be) a valuable part of your fitness program; however, in terms of total abdominal activation, crunches rank in at about average.

The American Council on Exercise decided to find out just which abdominal exercise comes in at the top spot. According to Mark Anders, the study conducted by ACE had two top contenders for greatest muscle activation. Those two exercises were the Captain’s Chair and the Bicycle. (1) 

If you really love crunches (and who doesn’t) then consider upgrading the exercise. By increasing the range of motion during a crunch, you get a greater area of total activation. The easiest way to increase the range of motion? Perform crunches on a BOSU ball. 

2. Exercise > Nutrition 

How is this still a thing?

Every credible fitness guru since VHS exercise tapes has emphasized the importance of nutrition over exercise. Yes, exercise IS important; however, you can’t out-train a bad diet. More importantly, you cannot have the midsection you want by eating thousands of calories of crappy food.

Not only is it important to eat a well-balanced diet (with a cheat day here and there) but it’s also essential to cut calories when you are ready to start working towards that defined and shredded midsection. Reducing your caloric intake will help to burn that extra body fat, allowing your abdominal muscles to start popping out.

The amount of your caloric deficit is going to vary based on your particular lifestyle. You may only need to cut 200 calories per day if you are an extremely active person. I’d recommend using a caloric calculator or an app like MyFitnessPal to calculate an approximate number.

3. Spot Treating is Possible

Have you ever seen an overweight man with Spartan warrior-like abs?

Didn’t think so.

You cannot spot treat or target ONLY your abdominal muscles. There are two reasons for this:

  • Genetic pre-determination
  • Over compensation issues 

You didn’t tell your body where to place the body fat that is covering those abdominals and you aren’t going to be the one to tell your body where to take it off. This is why having a complete, well-rounded exercise program is so essential for stripping off body fat and building lean muscle tissue. 

As for over-compensation issues: The last thing you want is to have one muscle group that is so strong that it starts doing all the work for other muscle groups. Why? In the off chance you have to activate that weak and underappreciated muscle group and you bite off more than you can chew, your risk for injury is going to be sky high.

Don’t take my word for it: A study conducted at the University of Connecticut demonstrated that despite unilateral training, fat loss occurred throughout the body and not in that selected area. Bam. Nail in the coffin. (2)

Finally, let’s point out the obvious: Why would you want to have a shredded six-pack when the rest of your body looks awful? That’s like owning a 1963 Corvette Sting Ray and the only thing you bothered to upgrade on the car were the wheels and rims.

References

  1. Anders, M. 2001. New Study Puts Crunch on Ineffective Ab Exercises. ACE Fitness Matters, 7(3), 9-11.
  1. Kostek MA, Pescatello LS, Seip RL, Angelopoulos TJ, Clarkson PM, Gordon PM, Moyna NM, Visich PS, Zoeller RF, Thompson PD, Hoffman EP, Price TB. Subcutaneous fat alterations resulting from an upper-body resistance training program. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007 Jul;39(7):1177-85.

ABOUT DAVID SAUTTER

David Sautter is a NASM certified personal trainer, NASM certified fitness nutrition specialist, fitness workshop leader, and health and fitness writer who has been featured in NoTimeWheysted, Kutting Weight, and Workout Labs. With over 12 years of experience, David has been the driving creative force behind numerous fitness-related e-books, training guides, articles, and supplement research. You can discover more of his work at his website: WriteOnSautter.com.



The world’s most personalized pre-workout.
What is your stimulant tolerance?
zero
no stims for me thanks
low
a standard energy drink or cup of coffee is enough for me
medium
I drink multiple energy drinks or cups of coffee a day and/or I take pre-workout before the gym
high
I drink pre-workouts or energy drinks all day long
What is your goal?

Enhanced Performance
start a fitness program and/or take it to the next level

Weight Loss
fat loss and cutting

Muscle Growth
gain strength and size
Do you play collegiate or competitive sports?
yes
no
Alpha Amino BCAA has a rating of 4.8 stars based on 99 reviews.
Alpha Amino BCAA

Alpha Amino is the ultimate performance, hydration and recovery sports drink powder. Its premium formula is built on the power of amino acids and formulated with ingredients that promote healthy fluid balance. Alpha Amino has 14 Amino Acids including a well-studied 2:1:1 BCAA ratio. These Amino Acids support the body’s ability to fuel skeletal muscles, preserve muscle glycogen stores and reduce protein breakdown.

  • Performance BCAA’s with 0g Sugar
  • 14 Amino Acids
  • 5g BCAA’s in the clinically studied 2:1:1 ratio
  • Electrolytes for hydration
  • Zero Stimulants & Zero Sugar
C4 Sport has a rating of 5.0 stars based on 19 reviews.
C4 Sport

C4 Sport! If you are a collegiate athlete or play sports competitively, C4 Sport is the perfect pre-workout for you because it is NSF Certified for Sport. C4 will help you tackle your training in the gym and on the field.

  • Boosts energy + focus
  • Enhances muscular endurance
  • 135mg of caffeine
  • Contains CarnoSyn® Beta Alanine, an amino acid, patented and clinically studied form of beta-alanine that has been shown to support muscular endurance
  • NSF certification is trusted by the MLB, NFL, NBA, NCAA, and everyday athletes alike
C4 Original has a rating of 4.8 stars based on 328 reviews.
C4 Original

C4 Original! This is our best-selling pre-workout with more than 1.3 billion servings sold! C4 Original is perfect for you if you are new to the pre-workout game or you are seeking a lower stimulant C4.

  • Perfect for energy, focus and pumps
  • Good if you’re at the start your fitness journey/want to step up your workouts
  • 150mg of caffeine

Pro tip: If you are just starting out on a pre-workout, take half a scoop to assess tolerance level.*

Also available in convenient, bottled, ON THE GO formula!

C4 Ripped has a rating of 4.8 stars based on 114 reviews.
C4 Ripped

C4 Ripped! If your goal is to lose weight, C4 Ripped is the perfect pre-workout for you.

  • Helps you train harder while supporting your body’s ability to burn fat
  • Creatine-free
  • Includes ingredients like Green Coffee Bean Extract to support weight loss
  • 150mg of caffeine
  • L-Carnitine Tartrate

Also available in convenient, bottled, ON THE GO formula!

C4 Extreme Energy has a rating of 4.6 stars based on 65 reviews.
C4 Extreme Energy

C4 Extreme! If you love energy drinks and are always on the hunt for higher caffeine levels, C4 Extreme is for you.

  • C4 Extreme is the most stimulating C4 pre-workout
  • 2x as much caffeine than C4 Original
  • 2x as much CarnoSyn® Beta Alanine (tingles) than C4 Original
  • 300mg of caffeine
C4 Ultimate has a rating of 4.8 stars based on 105 reviews.
C4 Ultimate

C4 Ultimate! If you’re a seasoned gym goer who loves pre-workouts and you’re looking for a fully-loaded, high-impact pre-workout, C4 Ultimate has what you need.

  • The most powerful C4 created
  • Per scoop: 300mg caffeine, 6g Citrulline Malate, 3.2g of CarnoSyn® Beta Alanine, 1.5g Nitrosigine®, 1.5g Creatine Nitrate, plus a powerful blend of nootropics
  • Fully-loaded formula packs a heavy punch of ingredients for focus, endurance, and pumps to help push you to your ultimate limit
  • Formulated for the ultimate – not entry level

Also available in convenient, bottled, ON THE GO formula!

BCAA Sport has a rating of 4.8 stars based on 6 reviews.
BCAA Sport

BCAA Sport! If you are a collegiate athlete – or play sports competitively, BCAA Sport is a perfect stimulant-free option for you, because it is NSF® Certified for Sport®! BCAA Sport supports all day hydration & recovery, to maximize your workout results

  • All Day Hydration & Recovery
  • Supports All Day Hydration & Recovery
  • Zero Stimulants & Zero Sugar
  • 4G BCAA’s, 2.25G Added Amino Acids, 2G Added Glutamine, and Added Electrolytes
  • NSF® Certified for Sport®
CN3 has a rating of 4.7 stars based on 31 reviews.
CN3

CN3&trad; combines 3 forms of Creatine into a stimulant-free 3-in-1 Creatine complex! Providing 6.25 total grams consisting of micronized Creatine Monohydrate, Creatine Nitrate, and Creatine Hydrochloride. CN3&trad; is an amazing product to be taken before, during, or after a workout. Looking to amplify Strength & Pumps? CN3&trad; has got you covered!

  • Strength & Pump Amplifier
  • Stimulant free
  • Includes Creatine Monohydrate, Creatine Nitrate, and Creatine HCL
  • Unflavored or flavored
CLK has a rating of 4.3 stars based on 58 reviews.
CLK

Cellucor CLK® is a stimulant free toning and sculpting supplement built on the power of four all-star weight loss ingredients: CLA, Raspberry Ketones, Carnitine, and the latest in diet support; Slimpro®.

  • Stimulant Free Fat Loss
  • Stimulant free toning and sculpting formula
  • Powered by four ingredients to support weight loss
  • Can be taken standalone, or paired with C4 Ripped (C4 Ripped contains stimulants)
  • Raspberry flavored softgels

Share & Contribute

Do you have a story or would you like to a contributor? We'd love to hear from you.

Learn How