5 Reasons Your Ab Exercises Aren’t Working - Bodies By Bench

5 Reasons Your Ab Exercises Aren’t Working

5 Reasons Your Ab Exercises Aren't Working

Not seeing results from your ab workouts? There’s nothing more frustrating than putting a hard effort into something and not getting anything out of it in return. If you’re struggling to see any ab definition or just feel like your ab workouts aren’t working for you, I’ve got good news for you!

What if I told you it’s not the amount of time you’re willing to devote, but it’s the way you train your abs that’s holding you back from having a more flat, toned stomach? That’s why I’m going to share with you my top 5 reasons your ab exercises aren’t working and how you can change it immediately. Whether you are an avid exerciser or a beginner, chances are you are making several of these mistakes in your training right now.

But I must say this first. In order to truly lose stomach fat and trim your waistline to see any ab definition...majority of your focus should be on your nutrition. You won't get the results you want just by doing ab workouts or any workout for that matter without eating properly.

Now onto the 5 reasons why many people fail to training abs correctly. It’s these small ab training slip-ups that make a big difference.

1. Training abs every day

Doing ab workouts every day to help lose belly fat and see definition is seriously a waste of your time. You can’t possibly crunch away stomach fat, plus your abdominal muscles need time to recover just like other muscle groups in your body. And honestly if you’re able to perform tons of ab exercises one day and then wake up the next morning ready for more, that should be proof to you that your workouts are ineffective and something needs to change.

Let’s say you normally spend 10-20 minutes every day (or darn close every day) doing ab exercises. I would MUCH rather see you spend that time focusing on core, compound exercises or high intensity interval training (HIIT) cardio that would be A LOT more effective to burn fat and help you get a flat stomach.

What I personally do is directly train my abs 1-2x per week, on non-consecutive days. And I always mix things up so my body never adapts. One workout I may throw in some weighted core moves holding a dumbbell, stability ball or medicine ball. Another workout may be a circuit of Pilates moves with planks, straight leg lifts, and criss-cross. And the rest of my core stability strength and ab definition comes from my strength training. A lot of people don’t realize just how much abdominal work you get from lifting weights doing squats, overhead presses, etc.

2. Long breaks between exercises

You don't need much time in between sets during ab workouts. Unlike other muscles in the body that may take a several minutes to recover, abdominal muscles recover within seconds. So your abs routine can be continuously moving from one exercise to the next with very little rest. People that claim to work out their abs for 30 minutes are more are taking too much rest in between sets (or doing way more abdominal work than necessary) and could benefit greatly if they just kept moving in order to really hit the abs and core.

In order to train in this continuous manner with very little rest, you must have a game plan before you start so you aren’t stopping to think what to do next. Write down a series of exercises, follow a printable workout, or follow along with a video at home from your smart phone, tablet or computer like in Toned In 20, an online workout program for women! Where all you do is push "play" and follow along with me in the workout videos right from home.

3. Not breathing properly– or hardly at all

Do you know that majority of people tend to hold their breath during ab exercises because of focusing on other things? The abdominal muscles cannot fully contract with air retained in the lungs. So those that hold their breath while performing ab exercises, never attain a full muscle contraction.

You should focus on squeezing your abdominals as hard as you can along with fully exhaling to help really make the abs work. By making this one change alone, you’ll notice a difference in your workout immediately. Try it out!

4. Neglecting the entire core

I see so many people do abs, abs, abs, but they never work on their ‘CORE’ which is all your spine and hip stabilization muscles including your lower back, hips and pelvic floor muscles. Doing sit-ups and crunches 5 days a week will not transform into strong abs or a stable core. And if you over train the rectus abdominus (front abs) but neglect your obliques (side abs) and transverses abdominis (deep muscles along your spine), you may be more susceptible to injury and poor posture.

The key to a well-built, lean waistline and stomach is to hit all angles of your ENTIRE CORE including the lower abs, upper abs, oblique’s, lower back and hips.

5. Struggling through an exercise you’re not strong enough to do

Not strong enough to do a certain ab exercise yet? It’s O.K.! If you follow any instructor in a DVD or program during an abs workout or work with a personal trainer, they should know… “There’s ALWAYS a modification for it.” And if they make you struggle through the exercise, bad form and all, with no modification…then you might want to consider a new program or trainer. In my eyes safety is always first.

I’d much rather see you perform the modification of the exercise and do it correctly, than try to struggle through the actual exercise and get nothing out of it and possibly get hurt. You’ll get MUCH more out of your workout if you perform the modification and build your strength up first. Plus it’s much more gratifying and motivating when your core strength improves and you’re eventually able to do the main exercise properly!

Lastly, I want to mention again that you can’t out-crunch your diet. And you cannot spot reduce fat on your body. The key to visible abs and a flat stomach is no secret at all: Lower your body fat percentage. This doesn’t happen by doing hundreds of reps of ab exercises. You can train your abs all you want, but if your diet isn’t in check, you’ll never see the results you desire.

Now that you know how to train your abs correctly, come do this workout with me!

Are you trying to bounce back after pregnancy? Maybe you haven't been exercising lately and your core is weak? Or do you exercise regularly and looking to mix things up with NEW workouts? Regardless what fitness level you're at, this abs circuit is perfect for ALL fitness levels!

No equipment needed and you can do this right from home or the gym in just 15 minutes! We're going to fire up your abs from every angle and train the entire core. Simply hit "play" on the video below and follow along with me... Let's DO this!

Leave me a comment to let me know you were here, and how you did in today's workout!

Want more quick home workouts like this? Join my free 14 day Toned In 20 Challenge! Do this abs circuit with other workouts to tone and strengthen the entire body while melting body fat.

GREAT JOB on today's workout! Don't forget to check in below and let me know how you did - I'm looking forward to hearing from you!

About the Author

Laura Bench is a fitness trainer, health coach, and motivator. She works with women all over the world, helping them be the BEST version of themselves from the inside out. She is the creator of Toned In 20 which is an online workout program and nutrition membership site for women.

  • Carole says:

    Enjoyed working out with you again even thought it was abs! I have shared it with multiple friends and hope they will take you up on the 14 day free trial.

  • Sheryl says:

    I enjoyed the ab workout.. I’ve been a little off lately .. only running in the early morning hours .. but I know it’s time to get back to work and I am – starting with today! Thanks, Laura, for all you do for us!

    • Laura Bench says:

      Thank you Sheryl, you’re the best :) We all have our seasons of falling off track a bit. The important thing is just what you did…brush yourself off and get back at it. You always do a fabulous job!

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