One big misconception about exercise is that you need to do abs exercises in order to get a six-pack, or even a stronger core. You can have a very impressive six-pack with a core as strong as steel by focusing on core, compound exercises like squats, dumbbell lunges, or deadlifts to name a few. Another option is using stabilization exercises like an advanced bird dog exercise that works not just your abs, but your balance, lower back, and even arms and shoulders.
Frequently working abs can lead to posture problems
Just about everyone I’ve ever consulted, or trained has moderate, to severe posture problems from a sedentary lifestyle. When you have a desk job, or simply sit down in a chair for a few hours, your shoulders tend to rotate forwards so that your body becomes hunched over.
What does doing a bunch of crunches every day do to this pre-existing problem? Well it makes us hunch over even more by forcing our abs muscles to tighten and shorten. Soon you may be looking like the hunchback of notre dame! Stretching and foam rolling can help correct rounded shoulders and improve posture, but working abs every day may only make whatever posture problems you have worse.
Abs exercises don’t remove belly fat
The idea that you can remove stubborn body fat from one particular body part could be the most prevalent myth in the fitness industry. Certainly abs belts and abs machines try to promote this idea of “spot reduction”, but doing abs exercise will not burn any more fat off your body. In fact, when someone asks me how to get a six pack, I tell them “don’t do any abs exercises!”. Getting a six-pack requires achieving a low level of body fat that has nothing to do with how many crunches, or abs exercises you do. Your time is much better spent preparing your meals, planning your meals, or focusing on core, compound exercises. Overall, traditional abs exercises like crunches are extremely overrated.
Working abs every day is inefficient
Having a six-pack is like the international sign of fitness, but working out abs every day is unnecessary.
Let’s say you spend 10-20 minutes every day doing abs exercises. You could have spent that time doing high intensity interval training, stretching, foam rolling, and a lot of other fitness activities that would likely be A LOT more beneficial to your body and how it looks and feels.
A better approach would be to work out your abs intensely 2-3x per week using circuits to get a great abs workout in much less time, which is what I personally do. While your abs muscles are most likely comprised of resilient type 1 muscle fibers that can take a beating without getting sore, just like training other muscle groups, they tend to respond better to less frequent training. A similar muscle to abs that has type 1 muscle fibers is your calves, yet you don’t see people doing calves exercises every day!
Working abs every day can lead to muscle imbalances
Not only can working out abs every day lead to postural problems, but also muscle imbalances. Your abs complex, which is all your abs muscles are comprised of the rectus abdominus, transverse abdominus, internal obliques, and external obliques. If you do standard crunches 7 days a week for 300 reps, your rectus abdominus muscle (the six-pack muscle) is likely to get trained much more intensely than the other abs muscles. Doing a bunch of crunches does not necessarily translate into a strong abs, or a stable core.
Even worse, if you do get your rectus abdominus too strong relative to your other abs and lower back muscles, you may be more susceptible to injury.
While having nice abs is like the international sign of fitness, there are much more effective ways to work out your abs then to do a bunch of crunches every day!