Sit ups are arguably one of the most popular exercises. There are literally dozens of variations, can require no equipment at all, and nearly everyone who does them is nearly certain that with enough crunches or sit-ups, their flat stomach is just around the corner. Though it will certainly dismay many to hear it, this is a terrible myth. Sit ups do not lead to 6 packs, flat stomachs, or fat-burning off the tummy.
The good news is that you can still get flat abs; anyone can, and you may not ever have to do another crunch!
The abdominals are a muscle just like any other. By continuously contracting it under resistance, it will adapt, becoming stronger, more endurant, and likely more toned. This doesn't mean that the muscle will be suddenly visible through the skin. Imagine the muscles in your thighs, or arms. These muscles may be very strong, but that doesn't mean they are popping out. Muscles become visible when the layer of fat between them and the skin becomes thin enough; this means losing fat.
A great example is to look at body builders; they do not necessarily have the largest muscles, but the way they train makes it possible to show off what they do have. Leading up to competition, bodybuilders cut out all extra foods, and are eating the bare minimum; no sugars, simple or complex. The skin seems to shrink-wrap around the muscles they've built, suddenly showing every muscle contour and vein- including a rippling abdomen!
The best Ab exercises
The best ab exercises are those which engage the entire core. This means the truck of the body, and generally utilises the stabilising muscles around the spine, along with the abs and hip flexors. A prime example is the plank.
The plank is a floor exercise performed without equipment. It is a safe, stable and progressive movement which can be performed by nearly anyone, in at least one variation. To perform the plank, the body should be balanced parallel to the floor, with only the forearms and toes touching the ground for support. Hold this position for a number of seconds, and each day, try to reach a few more seconds. Once you're able to hold it for a minute you'll know you're ready for a bigger challenge.
Once you're ready for a bigger challenge, you can start engaging the entire core in other dynamic exercises, thus getting a great ab workout without setting aside specific exercises for it. The core becomes tremendously engaged in movements requiring balance, and especially when weight is being held above the head.
Snatch Squats are a prime example and anyone would be surprised at how tough they really are. Using a barbell and taking a wide grip, the weight should be hoisted above the head, locking in the elbows to perform a full, deep squat. It is important to descend fully, and keep the bar over the spine.
These are some of the most effective ways to get your abs a great workout without endless crunches, which won't do much for your goal.
The best Ab diet
If you'd like to see your hard work, its time to cut out foods that cause the accumulation of fat on the abdomen. Increasing protein by eating meat several times a day is a good start. Next, you'll have to cut out all junk foods- this includes fast food- regardless of how it “seems healthy”, fried foods, white wheat products, and more. You'll lose weight until the body plateau's.
If you'd like to lose more, you'll need to take an even more extreme approach. Exercise regularly to maintain the muscle you've developed, but cut out all processed foods, including processed meats, breads, and pastas. Its time to go all natural. Try eating foods that you receive in their natural form- fresh veggies, fruits, and unprocessed meats that you can bake.
Getting it to come together
By doing the right exercises and progressively eating only what your body needs, stomach fat can be melted away by being used for energy. Only by working harder than ever before with resistance will the body be challenged enough to bother burning off stomach fat. Getting a flat stomach after having gained weight is a coveted reward that few can achieve. This doesn't make it impossible, but does require discipline and proper training. If you've been performing dozens of sit ups each day and are wondering why your abs aren't showing, now you know why!