I workout with weights about 3 times per week at a local gym. It is a very nice gym. It offers Spin classes, yoga classes, personal training, and there’s plenty of free weights to go around. I mostly use the free weights and cable machines for my workouts.
There are also plenty of ab machines which I never use. And there is even an area for abs that has mats and physio-balls for people to torture their midsections. I use that area to stretch and if I’m feeling up for it, I might do some abs, mostly lower abs. I do abs maybe twice a month, if that. I get plenty of ab work, indirectly from my weight training, especially my squats from dead-lifts.
Often I will see gym members, men and woman, doing endless sets of ab work. I get to the gym, they’re doing abs. I lift weights, they’re doing abs. I stretch, their doing abs. Abs, abs, abs, week after week, month after month.
And guess who has the flatter stomach, and I am sure more visible abs, me or the endless ab doers? Yep, you guessed correct. I have a flatter stomach than most ab-crunch addicts, and I rarely do abs. Why is that? (Because I am not feeling narcissistic enough today, I will not post a shirtless picture of myself. If you’re a bored skeptic, go through my posts and I am sure there’s a pic or two of me displaying my flat belly.) Is flat belly an oxymoron?
The reason I have a flat stomach, without doing much ab work, is because my body fat levels are low enough for my stomach to be flat and my ab muscles to show. That is it! If I continued working out exactly as much as I do now, but started drinking beer and eating pizza, burgers, and fries, nightly, I would gain belly fat, and my stomach would not be so flat anymore. If I ate too many calories for a long enough period, my muscle definition would eventually disappear. A belly with fat around it is not a result of not doing ab exercises. It is a result of too many calories consumed over an extended period of time.
Think about slim teenagers or adolescents with flat stomachs. They don’t do a ton of ab work if any. But their stomachs are flat because their body fat levels are low.
You want a flatter stomach? Cut down on the calories, and use your ab time to lift weights or do some cardio.
Ab exercises do strengthen your abs, if done correctly, and lower back in some instances.
Still confused? How about this? If an overweight man lifts weights and gets strong, but doesn’t reduce his calorie intake, his muscles may never be visible (get toned), despite the fact that he is getting stronger. If he continues to lifts weights and cuts back on his calories for a long enough period, his muscles eventually will show.
Oh one last thing. You know that claim that Pilates and yoga will lengthen and tone your muscles? Allow me to elaborate. If by tone they mean muscle definition, the only thing that tones muscles is reduction in body fat levels. And as far as lengthening muscles (I’m laughing so hard at this one that I am actually doing abs as I type) this is impossible. Muscles are attached to very specific points in your body. You can stretch your muscles, but you cannot alter where they are attached. The only time you lengthen your muscles is when you grow physically from toddler to adolescent, to teenager, and then to adult because your muscles do actually lengthen when you are lengthening in height. Once you’re an adult, you cannot change your muscle length anymore than you can change your height. Well, ladies who wear those big ass high heels can change their height, but only until their feet get tired, and then they shrink like by four inches. Ladies, your high heels come at a cost too.