You need to have 10% or less body fat in order to be able to show your 6-pack to the world. We all want abs, but with our excitement to get them we sometimes make mistakes that slow us down on the path to our perfect body. In order to achieve our gym goals, we need to do our exercises in the correct way. And the best way to do this, is knowing what not to do!
Here are 11 of these mistakes from Bright Side to help you figure out what NOT to do when you hit the gym.
1. Sitting all the way up
When you are doing your basic sit-ups, try not to go all the way up. This can cause stress on your back and force you to take time off from your important ab routine. Instead you should do crunches and lift yourself halfway up for perfectly toned abs!
2. Training every single day
When you give your muscles time to rest between workouts, you allow yourself to train more effectively and get the best results. At the same time, it helps your body to gain strength. Basically, it means that you should focus on different muscle group on different days.
3. Doing planks for too long
If your core muscles are strong, you can spend a lot of time standing in plank before you even feel any strain in your abs. Instead of increasing the time you spend in plank, try to remove one of the contact points, for example, one of the legs, from the floor.
4. Expecting a flat stomach by only doing ab training
Just training your abs won’t help you lose belly fat. You can develop a 6-pack by doing crunches, but you still need to lose the surrounding fat. And this fat is not gonna go anywhere if you just do the targeted abs training. Cardio training will help you burn extra calories and lose weight faster.
5. Being stuck in the same routine
If you find yourself getting too comfortable with doing this or that exercise, you should change your routine a little bit. For example, you can try adding a yoga ball when doing crunches. A nice way to strengthen your core is planks. You can try to include some yoga or Pilates into your regular training routine. “Spicing up” your training routine will help your muscles strengthen more effectively.
6. Leaving your belly puffed out while doing crunches
Training your abs is a careful job. In order to keep your stomach flat and toned, you need to pull your belly in while doing your exercises. This way your muscle memory will get trained in the right way and as an added bonus your stomach size will decrease!
7. Using a ball that is not fully inflated
The ball will flatten as you curl up if it doesn’t have enough air in it. It will make the exercise less effective for your abs. Ideally, when you push the ball, it should go inward no more than 2 inches.
8. Neglecting your back muscles
Training your abs without training your back creates an imbalance in the musculature that supports your spine. And these muscles are not just for show! So the best exercises for your abdominal muscles are the ones that force your entire core to go into overdrive to support your spine as well. Some well-known exercises that do this are squats and lifts.
9. Placing your hands behind your neck
Some people believe that if they place their hands behind their head, they’ll get the optimal support when they do crunches or sit-ups. But this can actually cause neck injuries, because you might pull on your neck and strain it. It also lowers the tension and the effectiveness of the workout in your abs. Instead, it’s better to place your hands at your ears or to cross them over your chest. If you have to keep your hands behind your head, imagine that you’re holding an orange under your chin to make sure your head doesn’t bend forward too much.
10. Raising your legs without any support
Trying to exercise without support is very counter-productive. In this exercise, which focuses on your lower abs, it is a common misconception to just raise your legs. There are much more effective machines to do this at the gym. These will support your lower back and workout the correct areas. So stop lying around on the gym floor and get up on those fancy contraptions to do your curl-ups!
11. Pushing your butt out while doing planks
Doing your planks in the wrong form has little to no productive effect toward working your abs. It is easy to do this exercise wrong since you may not even be aware of this mistake, but it is also very easy to correct it once you wrap your head around it! Instead of bending over your lower back and pointing up with your butt, your body should be in one uniform line. Your spine needs to be completely straight and aligned with your butt.
Have you made any of these mistakes during exercising, before reading this article? Share the article with your friends and show them the right way to do their exercises!
Illustrated by Leonid Khan for Bright Side