Are Ab Workouts Enough To Get Toned?

Just one look at the number of views ab workouts get on YouTube should tell you how much interest there is in the topic (via Sean Nalewanyj). There are videos on everything from 7-minute ab workouts with guaranteed results to the best ab workouts to sculpt a rock-hard six-pack. It's easy to get lost in the plethora of advice out there and end up dedicating hours and hours of your week to ab-focused exercises in the hopes of achieving a toned stomach. It's also disheartening to continue down this road and never see results. 


A lot of the myths you've been believing about ab workouts this whole time come from misunderstanding certain important elements related to how abdominal muscles are distributed and what actually works to strengthen them, according to Verywell Fit. The muscles of your stomach perform the crucial job of supporting your spine in addition to helping you maintain proper posture, per Fit Bod

But, are dedicated ab workouts really enough if you want to get a toned stomach?

Dedicated ab workouts won't make you lose fat

Spot reduction — a theory that targeted exercises of a particular body part can induce fat loss — is in fact not true (via Verywell Fit). Speaking to Shape, fitness trainer Ashanti Johnson explains that even doing 1,000 crunches every day is not going to get you the results you want if you have extra subcutaneous fat covering the muscles beneath. Getting rid of that layer of fat is going to help you see the ab muscles, and this usually comes with conscious and healthy eating habits, per Get The Gloss. A low carb, protein-rich diet is advisable. 


In addition to creating a calorie deficit with your diet, you should also include consistent exercises that are a combination of cardio and weight training to focus on reducing your overall body fat, per Verywell Fit. 

Another reason why dedicated ab workouts don't tone your stomach is because there are more than a few muscles that make up what we call our abs. Yoga teacher Alexis Novak shares that there are, in fact, 22 muscles in that region alone. "... to focus on just the abdominals is doing your entire (musculoskeletal) system a disservice," she adds (via Shape). It's important to also remember that your age, genetics, and hormones all contribute towards how quickly your belly fat is burned, as well.


What is a more effective way to do an ab workout?

One of the ways to make your ab workouts more effective is to understand that much like all other body parts — biceps, chest, glutes, etc. — the muscles in your stomach respond well to resistance training, per Verywell Fit. How you perform your exercises also plays a big role in the effectiveness, according to Born Fitness. Fitness coach Sean Nalewanyj adds that focusing on the mind-muscle connection while performing your workouts becomes even more crucial when it comes to toning your abs.


Co-founder of Physique 57, Tanya Becker, advises that it would be wise to concentrate on full body exercises that push you to engage your core muscles, per Shape. This essentially means that you don't have to dedicate specific exercises for your abs in order to tone them. All you have to do is perform all your other exercises — be they lunges, squats, or chest exercises — while maintaining a tightened core. 

That being said, there are some exercises that target your core muscles that could be beneficial to try out, especially dynamic exercises that engage your stabilizer muscles as well, Verywell Fit suggests. Planks, and different variations of them, are a great place to start.