Myths you've been believing about ab workouts this whole time

We all have dreams and goals about the way we want to achieve flatter abs. Forget six-packs — we're talking about flatter, paunch-free midsections. And if, like us, you've considered that the road to a sexy, trim midsection is marked by endless targeted exercises, experts say it may be time to rethink our collective strategy on getting lean and mean, and it starts with our diets.

We might think that we don't need to watch what we eat, and that we only need to work our abs to get the midsection we want. But your ab workout doesn't begin when you hit the gym — it begins with your meals, and an ab workout can only work if it goes hand in hand with a healthy diet. This means some folks only exercise to try and get their abs into shape, while others go to the opposite extreme. 

But we need carbs to be able to work out in a productive way. New York dietitian Jessica Cording tells Women's Health,  "Some of my clients go on super restrictive diets that cut out entire food groups, like carbs, which drains their energy." This means, instead, doing away with refined carbs and feeding your body with fruits, grains, and starchy veggies so you can properly get fueled up to work on getting the midsection you want.

Myth: A targeted ab workout is enough to get the abs you want

Past ab workouts used to focus on crunches, and plenty of those. But these days, fitness and exercise instructors are about working on the core, and that's because the core is where it's at. 

"[The core is] layers of deep muscles that help support your pelvis, spine, butt, back, hips and stomach," Katie Dunlop, a certified trainer, tells LiveStrong. "They are the foundational muscles for keeping our posture strong and tall and allowing us to twist, bend, run, jump and just move."

And if you want your midsection to wow, you need to work all those muscles, which are located from your ribs to your hips. Very Well Fit would also like to remind you that having great-looking abs isn't the ultimate goal — it's about getting your muscles to support your spine and help you with your posture in the best possible way.

Myth: You need special equipment to work your abs

Thanks to the commercially-driven world we live in, we're subjected to a nearly-endless deluge of ads that promise instant six-pack results. Very Well Fit would like to remind us all of the old adage that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is... and these gadgets are no exception. Very Well Fit also says that ab exercises are best done on the floor, or with the help of an exercise ball. And guess what... the floor is free! No purchase necessary.

And here's the big shocker about ab workouts: Doing a pile of them may not even work in the way you think, simply because your body may not be designed to show off a well-defined core or abs to begin with. "Everyone has a different body composition naturally, and some of the strongest people will never have a huge amount of muscle definition," Wiersum says.