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a post by

Kara Glasco, MS, RCEP, HFS

Don’t spend hours in the gym working on your abs when you can use the fabulous AB-BLAST 1000! This machine is 100% guaranteed to melt away stubborn belly fat, slim your love handles and give you rock hard abs in only 3 minutes per day. Yes folks, that’s a mere 3 minutes of your day! Buy yours today for 4 easy installments of $39.99 plus shipping and handling.

(Must follow a strict 1,000 calorie diet, be genetically gifted, under the age of 25, and not be human.)

If you have fallen for an infomercial selling some new and revolutionary ab machine, you are not alone. Millions of Americans buy some sort of gloried piece of crap hoping to melt away belly fat in only minutes every day. If every fitness product delivered what they claimed, I would be out of job. Last time I checked, the personal training business is booming! Most reputable commercial fitness centers don’t even have things like the Ab-blast 1000 because they simply don’t work. I will highlight below all the reasons why ab machines will never give you the results they claim.

Rome Wasn’t Built In A Day

Think about how long it took you to lose 20 pounds, run three miles, or reduce your blood press 10 points. It takes time to see results and your abdominal muscles are no different. So how could it even be possible to see results in less than 10 minutes? It takes weeks or even months to fully strengthen and define a muscle group. It takes even more work and effort to reduce body fat. Another thing to think about is who is pictured in those infomercial ads; I highly doubt they are regular people. Most ads feature professional body builders, fitness models or athletes that exercise for a living. These models not only do a serious core workout, but they also dedicate hours to cardio, strength, and mobility training as well as eat a PERFECT diet.

Flex, Extend, and Rotate

The human body moves in multidimensional planes and the core muscles support the body as it extends, flexes and rotates. Most infomercials only sell products that flex the torso training one of the abdominal muscles, the rectus abdominus. Common flexion exercises include sit-ups, crunches and every other variation in which the upper body nears the lower body. So, what about the other extending and rotating muscles?

Most “core” routines contain an abundance of crunch variations, which can wreak havoc on your lower back. All 500 crunches will get you is the same amount of body fat and potentially serious vertebral disc problems. According to Dr. Stuart McGill, we need to realize that the spine discs only have so many numbers of bends before they damage (1). Keep the bends for essential tasks such as tying shoes rather than using them up in abdominal training (1). An effective core routine should move the body through every range of motion and include flexion, extension and rotation. Also, include isometric/bracing exercises and have lower back specific exercises. A rudimentary example would include the following: cable twist (rotation), mountain climbers (flexion), swimmers (extension) and plank (isometric).

Nutrition is Essential

We all know that the abdominal body fat is the most stubborn and hardest area for us to shrink. Our bodies do this to us for a reason, think prehistoric man. The greater omentum resembles a giant apron and covers our abdominal region. It is one of the largest storage areas for body fat. This fatty area is designed to store fat for times of famine, cushion internal organs and is vital for the immune system. With food so readily available, storing fat for starvation is no longer an issue. Our greater omentum is simply doing what it is genetically designed to do, sorry six-pack abs.

For most women, abdominal muscles are only visible when body fat is around 12%. Most men will see their outlined abs when their body fat is less than 10% percent. As if that wasn’t low enough, most “magazine men” have a body fat between 4-8% percent. Everyone is different when it comes to the amount of body fat needed for visible abs. I’ve known some freak of nature colleagues that have a rocking six-pack without even trying. That my friend is the almighty power of genetics.

For the rest of us it takes an unbelievable amount of effort to even see an outline of the infamous six-pack. This is where the work/reward ratio comes into play. What are you willing to give up in order to reach your goal of a six-pack. No processed foods, no more eating out, NO SUGAR, very little carbs and lastly, no adult beverages. Now, I can give up 90% of sugary and carbohydrate foods, but I draw the line at a Friday night glass of wine. I gave up on my six-pack abs a long time ago; the effort to reach that goal was just too much for even me.

When it comes down to it, not all of us is destined for six-pack abs. If your goal is rock hard abs, please be aware of the extreme commitment and dedication it takes to achieve it. You must have a well-designed core workout and perform daily strength or cardio training. Lastly, your diet must be perfect without a sugar in site. I hope this article enlightens you and does not deter you from the effort it takes to reach six-pack abs. Any fitness goal can be reached with a proper diet and a balanced workout plan.

1. McGill, S., "Designing Back Exercise: from Rehabilitation to Enhancing Performance." Accessed April 17, 2015.</h6>

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