The Truth About Abs

We've all heard that abs are made in the kitchen right? Maybe I'm just jealous because the only 6 pack I have is the one in my fridge- but I want to dispel a few of other ab myths floating around. 

Having a six pack means you have a strong core

Somehow the six pack became a symbol of elite fitness. Everyone wants abs and millions of dollars are made each year on "the 6 pack secret."

This is 10000000000% a myth. Having well defined ab muscles simply means that your body fat percentage is low. That's it. 

Seeing a person's 6 pack gives you absolutely no insight into how it functions. Someone with shredded abs may still have trouble engaging those muscles appropriately with exercise or every day activities. 

You need to do a ton of different ab exercises  


Your abs shouldn't be something you train for a few minutes every now and then. Whether its going about your daily life, training shoulders or going for a run, you should be using those abs to support your spine! 

So then in theory you wouldn't need to do any ab specific exercises right? Right... but most of us aren't doing that. We need to start by doing exercises to practice engaging and strengthening them. 

I recommend that you plank, plank, plank. And then plank some more. Start on knees and elbows, progress to your hands and feet. 

Once you're able to stabilize your spine, add in arm and leg movements to challenge your abs. The final progression is to activate the abs to support your spine and internal organs during day to day activities and with exercise! 

You gotta train your upper and lower abs

You say upper abs, lower abs- I say tomAto tomatoe. The abs run from your ribcage down to your pelvis. Anatomically they are not divided into a top and bottom. Certain ab exercises place an emphasis on different ab muscles (obliques vs rectus abdominis). 

They do NOT cross the shoulder or hip joints - so they do not move either. As I said earlier they are responsible for making sure that your spine is supported every time you move your arms or legs.

"Ok Monika, but when I do exercises like leg lowering I totally feel my lower abs working harder!"

Here's where that misconception probably came from... the iliopsoas! 


Iliopsoas is the muscle on the left. This guy is responsible for bending your hip (hip flexion). See how it crosses your hip joints and passes under the lower 1/2 of your abs? That's the muscle you feel working during those leg lowering exercises! 

It's also the sneaky devil behind the whole "Sit ups don't work your core" movement. Don't waste your time with those either.  

What other ab myths have you heard?