jump to navigation

The Abdominal Exercise Myths or “I do 200 crunches a day and I’m still fat, and now my neck hurts?” – Part 1 July 12, 2009

Posted by fitmontclair in Abdominal Training, Fat Loss, Fitness in Montclair, Group Exercise, Health & Exercise, Injury Prevention, Nutrition, Organic Food & Farming, Women's Health.

Some myths never die:

It takes seven years to digest gum.
Hair and fingernails continue growing after death.
A penny dropped from the top of a tall building could kill a pedestrian


Doing abdominal exercises like “crunches” and sit-ups can spot reduce the abdomen – This also includes all the absolutely USELESS crap and gimmicks sold on late night tv including but not limited to – “ab lounger”, “RED”, “ab zone”, and the stupid “shape & tone” EMS device.

“Shape & Tone” – USELESS EMS sold on t.v.!

All these devices have either inefficient ranges of motion, improper or ineffective loading or are just a scam. The EMS devices (electro-muscle stimulation devices) the one’s that cause a muscle to contract with electric stimulation (so you can supposedly build / tone muscle and burn calories without exercise) are NOT strong enough to build muscle or strength and the idea of burning calories without exercise or physical activity…. -Well, P.T Barnum said it best “there is a sucker born every minute!

The amount of current needed to reproduce a muscle contraction similar to body weight or free weight exercise would injure someone!! (probably jolt them right through the wall..) In physical therapy micro currents are used to rehab damaged nerves & muscles, these units are only sold to licensed medical professionals. The silly “toys” sold on tv have an even lower current and are TOTALLY USELESS!!

REAL Medical grade EMS – sold ONLY to Doctors & licensed Physical Therapists!

Back to the concept of spot reduction of the abdomen. The scientific view is that “there are no direct energy pathways between muscles being contracted and their fat stores”, which means for the average person “you don’t breakdown body fat that is lying over the muscle your are exercising” . So even IF the EMS units did have enough current to increase muscle (they don’t) THEY WOULD STILL HAVE NO EFFECT ON BODY FAT REGARDLESS OF THE FAT’S LOCATION, THE TYPE OF UNIT USED, OR THE AMOUNT OF CURRENT FROM THE UNIT !!!  Click to read more on the “Slendertone” EMS unit including the University research by Dr. John Porcari who was hired to investigate & test if the unit works by the American Council on Exercise.

The conversion of body fat to usable energy is a very complex process that has many factors and variables associated with it – too numerous to list without boring you. So here is the simplified reasoning – if spot reduction existed there would be  NO other gym equipment / exercises except those for the abdomen. The #1 goal of the average gym exerciser is to have a flat stomach!! So if spot reduction worked, you would only need abdominal exercises to reach your goal of a flat stomach. any person who has tried this approach knows it FAILS MISERABLY!!

Here is the truth why this approach fails 100% of the time whether it is by doing “crunches” , sit-ups or ANY abdominal exercise or exercise machine in the gym or at home:

1) FAT CANNOT BECOME LEAN MUSCLE TISSUE  – This a physiological IMPOSSIBILITY!!!Ask any doctor, therapist, physiologist – There is NO WAY to change fat tissue into muscle tissue and vice-versa. Just another stupid “gym myth” perpetuated by ignorance and greed!! You would have better luck changing lead into gold!

2) As previously stated there are no direct energy pathways between fat stores and muscle tissue

3) Poor posture can cause an abdomen to protrude forward (This will be a whole separate Blog post later)

An anterior tilt forces the stomach to protrude forward!

4) Abdominal surgeries and injuries can weaken the muscles i.e. C-sections and hernias are 2 of the most common and require specialized corrective exercises to fix the the problems. Any woman who does crunches after a c-section in hopes in of dropping body fat and flattening her stomach is doing more harm than good, at best she is just wasting time.. [Note:  For more information on abdominal swelling, C-sections, and pain inhibition please read the comments section for this post]

5)  Food allergies and intolerances can disrupt the innervation of the abdominal muscles leading to “neuroligical inhibition” and a viscerosomatic reflex that shuts down these muscles resulting in a weak, flaccid, flabby, distended abdomen.  The most common allergens are: Gluten, Pasteurized Dairy, and Soy – Sorry, Soy is NOT a health food (more on this later!).

The other common things that we can not tolerate and lead to abdominal distention, bloating & swelling  are all the additives, preservatives and colorings (i.e. chemicals) in PROCESSED FOOD!!

Bloated, Distended abdomens can’t be fixed by crunches!!!

NOT a health food; but a MAJOR source o swelling & bloating!!

NOT a health food; but a MAJOR source of swelling & bloating!!

Up next I will start outlining a plan that people can use to address ALL of these areas and ACTUALLY GET RESULTS; PERMANENT, LASTING RESULTS!! Starting with fixing your posture and how to do CORRECT ABDOMINAL EXERCISES  THAT DON’T INJURE YOUR NECK & BACK!!

Have a great weekend & thanks for visiting!!!


P.S. Feel free to leave your comments and ask questions!!


Gordon Waddell, PES,CSCS,CES  – Montclair’s only REAL Health & Fitness Expert!

Follow all of the “Abdominal Myths Series”- Just click the links below:

The Abdominal Exercise Myths or “I do 200 crunches a day and I’m still fat, and now my neck hurts?” – Part 1

The Abdominal Exercise Myths – Part 2 or “What do you mean I stand funny and have a big @$S !”

The “Abdominal Myths – Part 3A ” What do you mean ‘The crunch machine’ at the gym is useless and causing my back pain?”

The Abdominal Exercise Myths – 3B “Crunch-FREE Exercises for Rock Hard Abs & a Solid Steel Spine!”

The Abdominal Exercise Myths-Part 4A “You can’t make chicken salad from chicken s#it!” – The role of nutrition in abdominal function

The Abdominal Exercise Myths 4B- ” So what the hell can I eat?? – Tips for fast, effective label reading & shopping!”

The Abdominal Myths 4C- Why Soy is NOT a health food! or “The DANGERS OF SOY and why my SON has BREASTS!!!!”

The Abdominal Myths 4D – The Problem with Pasteurized dairy, food allergies & addictions OR Why we need RAW Dairy in N.J.



1. Aunt Jayne - July 12, 2009

This is a really good post! I enjoyed reading it.

2. fitmontclair - July 13, 2009

I’m VERY Glad you enjoyed it! I hope to have Part 2 up this week.

Feel free to pass on the info and my Blog link to anyone you feel can benefit.



3. jojo - June 17, 2010

I don’t agree about “any woman that has had a c-section” b******t. I have had a c-section and I don’t have a belly. I even had a VBAC then, and I still managed to get rid of my belly.

** Note: The original comment was edited for language.
I will not allow any of the following to become part of the FITMONTCLAIR blog: cursing, personal attacks, or off topic rambling – Thanks!**

fitmontclair - June 18, 2010

Hi JoJo,

Congratulations on your success, you are one of the few women that were able to regain their pre-pregnancy abdomen! Unfortunately for thousands of others they were not so lucky. There are many factors that coincide in regaining a flat abdomen after pregnancy: Your genetics, how much weight you gained & where you gained it, your diet, your exercise routine, your posture, your hormonal profile, and others. In the case of a C-section many women experience pain inhibition of the abdomen which leads to weakening of the abdominal & pelvic floor muscles and subsequent distention. The ability for a VBAC is often dependent on the previous surgery and if the surgeon used a horizontal incision (which is less destructive to the abdominal muscles) or a vertical, “J” or “T” incision; as well as the health of the expectant mother.

I never ask anyone to believe anything, that is why I always try to post my references, and links to additional resources (although in 1,305 views of this post you are the only one to disagree so far). Pain inhibition after injury or surgery is a valid medical fact, ask any doctor, physical therapist, good massage or neuromuscular therapist. Scar tissue often blocks nerve signals from reaching muscles and must be manually broken up to regain muscular control & coordination. Your body always moves away from pain, so in many cases women learn how to move, exercise and perform daily activities without properly activating their abdominal muscles due to post-operative pain; which often predisposes them to lower back & S.I joint problems due to spinal instability.

The lower abdomen (below the umbilicus) has different nerve innervation than the upper abdomen which is why crunches do not and can not effect the lower abdomen! The nerves are inhibited by pain and or scar tissue and the muscle cannot contract properly. The female reproductive organs also reflex to the lower abdomen, which is why pre-menopausal women often experience lower abdominal swelling, cramping and bloating once a month during their cycle. The organs control muscles by viscerosomatic reflexes for the organs have a higher priority for survival. The organs when swollen and in pain don’t want you doing crunches & exercises they want rest and increased blood flow to supply nutrients; in turn they cause an inhibitory response that relaxes the abdominal wall to allow the organs room to expand and recover (tip: women should NOT do abdominal exercises if they are experiencing menstrual pain or swelling, you CAN’T “Crunch away the bloat!”)

Again, consider yourself lucky that you are not one of the women who experiences inhibition and weakness of the abdomen after a C-section. Keep on doing what you are doing, for it sounds like it works for you – however everyone is different and many others need another approach.

For more information on C-section and exercise I recommend “The Essential C-section Guide” by Maureen Connolly & Dana Sullivan. For information on Viscersomatic reflexes and how the organs share the nervous system of the muscles you can read my blog post “The Abdominal Exercise Myths 4a” which has multiple medical references and has a link to the book “Symptoms of Visceral Disease – A Study of The Vegetative Nervous System and It’s Relationship to Clinical Medicine – Francis M. Pottenger, Sr. M.D.” which is a FREE download.

Thanks for reading the blog and I hope I provided a clear explanation…


4. Elizabeth - July 16, 2010

Very good advice and SOOOO true! So many women are anxious to lose weight after childbirth and trim down their tummies that they don’t realize they can cause more harm than good, especially moms who have had a c-section.

fitmontclair - July 16, 2010

Hi Elizabeth,

I’m glad you liked the blog post and agree with me (I never make any of this stuff up). The book I recommended in one of the replies has some great C-section info. The most important thing is to be pain-free before returning to exercise for pain will alter all the exercises and movements possibly causing new injuries. Women that exercise post-partum that are in pain learn to move without first contracting the deep abdominal muscles which can later lead to back pain & S.I. joint problems due to faulty movement patterns learned when experiencing pain. Many will require a therapist to remove trigger points in the scar tissue and be re-taught proper movement with Kegel type exercises. The gym is often not the place to begin post-partum workouts. Women need a calm, relaxed atmosphere with gentle exercises to allow the body time to heal and re-establish proper movement patterns. Trying to “beat” the body back into shape is 100% the wrong way to train! They will burn minimal calories and lose some fat but they will set themselves up for improper movement and future injuries due to an unstable spine etc, for the body will always move away from pain. That is the whole basis behind the term “pain inhibition”. I may do a detailed post in the future on pain inhibition but it is a very complex neurological topic that is not a fun read and may be hard for people to comprehend.

Thanks for reading the blog! If you would like to be placed on the e-mail update list just let me know. Feel free to pass on the blog and place links to it so the info can help as many people as possible.

Have a great day!


5. Hemraj Sheth - August 10, 2012

My partner and I stumbled over here by a different website and thought I might
as well check things out. I like what I see so now i’m following you. Look forward to going over your web page repeatedly.

fitmontclair - September 2, 2012

Glad you found and like my blog. On the right hand side there is a link to subscribe for email notifications of new posts etc.

Feel free to posts links to my blog if you feel it can help anyone, just please give me credit as the author (as I always do this for others whose information I incorporate into my posts)

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!

Have a great day and watch for new posts coming soon!


6. Cindy hoye - August 16, 2013

Aloha I’ve been reading for hours now on being skinny fat – I’m 55 I thought healthy until I went to a doc to get blood work up done and I have high cholesterol and a 40 percent body fat percentage according to a gym trainer. I knew I needed to start lifting weights for bone density I’m 5,8 and weigh 134. So I’m skinny I’m super active. Surf and jog walk everyday gym every other day But I carrot and veggie juice with protein intake at normal ranges. What am I to do. Increase weight training ? And more protein ? Hawaiihappy

7. hilal - July 29, 2014

Wow such a perfect explanations of things I should have known! 👍

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: