10 Common Ab Workout Mistakes Most People Make

Last updated on January 5, 2021

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Do you want to have impressive abs? Losing fat around your belly and having a six-pack is a desire for many people. It takes a lot of hard work, but it can be done.

Simply doing sit-ups is not going to get you there. You need to be disciplined and consistent in training your abs, hydrating, nutrition, and letting your muscles rest.

With all the excitement to get abs, you are likely to make mistakes that might hinder you from achieving a six-pack. 

Below are some of the ab training mistakes that you are likely to make and should avoid. 

1. Not planning and setting goals 

One of the mistakes you are likely to make when working out your abs is not planning and setting realistic goals. 

If you don’t plan, you will likely lose focus, be distracted, and become less disciplined. Eventually, you will not get the abs you desperately want, and frustration will set in.

To avoid such scenarios, first, sit down and write your ab workout goals. Essential questions to ask yourself are what exactly do you want to achieve and by when.

You need to be realistic, as well. One month of training is not enough for you to get your desired abs. This takes time.

Then create a plan. When will you start training? Will you work out from home or in a gym? How many days and hours per week? What meal plans and exercises will you incorporate?

You need to consider all these to avoid wasting time and losing focus.

For beginners creating a plan can be overwhelming. As such, start by scheduling tasks for fewer days, say five days.

For instance, you can work out for 45 minutes, drink 4 liters of water per day, get 8 hours of sleep, and so forth. With time, these tasks will become a habit, and you will achieve the consistency you need.  

2. Not incorporating cardio in your workout

With the goal of developing a 6-pack, you are likely to focus on doing ab targeted exercises such as sit-ups or crunches alone.

However, this is wrong; training abs alone will not help you get the proper definition you need for your abdominal muscles.

You need to lose fat in the areas surrounding your abs. And you can do this by incorporating other exercises such as cardio.

Combining weight training and cardio will help you lose fat faster and make your abs more visible. 

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) also increases fat burning and should be included in an ab workout program.

HIIT exercise involves alternating intense workouts with short periods for recovery. It usually keeps your heart rate up, and you can be sure to lose weight by doing it.

Doing cardio will generally increase your ability to do high-intensity workouts for a prolonged period. 

3. Failure to track 

If you don’t track your progress, you are likely to lag when developing your abs.

Among the things that you should track include your overall plan, diet plan, daily steps, calorie deficit, weight, the circumference around your belly, and the percentage of fat in your body.

Look at yourself in the mirror and use a tape measure to take measurements after a few months to see if you have achieved any progress.

It is also important to weigh yourself. However, don’t become obsessed with checking your weight because doing this might make you lose motivation.

 Look at the overall goal that you want to achieve and appreciate the progress that you make, no matter how little it might be. 

To make this easier, you can use a fitness tracker. There are devices like Fitbit and Apple watch and fitness apps that provide an in-depth analysis of your making progress.

Tracking helps you know your strengths and weaknesses. This way, you can make the necessary changes to fasten the process. 

4. Inconsistency in training 

Your eagerness and excitement to get abs can, in most cases, make you want to try out every exercise and diet just to get the abs.

While exploring different ab exercises is essential, it can make you inconsistent.  The best way to build abs is by creating a plan and sticking with it.

By doing this, you can know whether your strategy is working and whether you should make specific adjustments.

You also become inconsistent when you do not work out your abs regularly. If you fail to work out regularly as you have planned, it will not be possible to effectively train your abs. 

If you want to realize significant achievements, create enough time to train your abs and stick to the proper diet 

5. Poor nutrition

Abs are usually made in the kitchen, meaning that getting impressive abs will only be a dream if your nutrition is terrible.

The most common nutrition mistakes when building abs include wrong food choices, not drinking enough water, and less protein consumption. 

i) Wrong food choices 

Certain foods, such as sugars, alcohol, bread, etc., will make this process harder. 

These foods increase fats in your body, leading to weight gain. 

Instead of consuming such, consider foods that maximize the ability of your body to develop abs. These include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, foods rich in proteins, and healthy fats.

They have low calories and contain micronutrients and antioxidants that fasten the burning of fats and weight loss.

Along with eating foods beneficial to growing your abs, it is essential to eat small portions of food every two to four hours. Eating regularly reduces hunger and food cravings.

Additionally, every meal should contain vegetables. Vegetables increase satiety and contain vitamins that aid in digestion.

ii) Not drinking enough water

If you are not drinking enough water, you might not be able to lose your belly fat. The recommended amount of water per day is about 1 to 2 liters.

Besides waste removal, water makes it easier to achieve a six-pack. Studies reveal that drinking water can reduce your appetite, thus fastening the weight loss process.

Water also increases energy expenditure and increases your metabolism.

Most importantly, it keeps your body hydrated and cool. Whenever you work out, your temperature rises, and drinking water helps to cool your body down. 

iii) Low consumption of proteins

Proteins also play a critical role in helping you build abs.

Proteins make you feel full for more extended periods of time. This means that you will not get food cravings or eat very often, leading to gaining weight.

After working out, your muscles become sore. Proteins come in handy to repair and rebuild your muscles, enabling you to stick to your workout routine. 

You can get proteins from foods such as meat, nuts, seafood, and dairy products, among others.

If you are not sure about the best diet plans, it is always essential to consult a nutritionist or a personal trainer. 

6. Not training hard enough

Just like achieving anything in life, you need to work hard enough to get your abs. Abs do not come easy.

Even when you do not feel like working out and are not sick, you need to push yourself.

Challenging your body with new workouts and increasing the intensity of your training will help you tremendously.

When training, consider progressive overload. This means increasing the intensity, frequency, sets, and repetitions gradually. 

Training hard enough does not, however, mean that you do not rest. You need to have rest days. However, don’t be lazy or procrastinate working your abs. 

7. Poor execution of ab exercises

Several exercises are necessary to help you lose fat around your belly and develop your abs.

Some of these exercises include planks, crunches, sit-ups, and mountain climbers, among others. If you do not execute these exercises well, it will take longer for you to get your desired ab 


When doing sit-ups, do not pull from your neck; instead, engage your abs so that your ribs move towards the pelvis. Ensure that your back lays flat on the floor

 Also, do not sit up as you will cause a lot of strain on your back. When your back is strained, you might not be in a position to exercise and might need some time off effectively.

If you leave your belly all puffed out when doing crunches or planks, you are not training your muscles right.

You need always to tighten your belly muscles when training your abs—this the most effective strategy.

Using a core stability ball that is not fully inflated will reduce the effectiveness of your ab workouts. Always ensure to use a fully inflated ball.

Having the wrong form when doing planks is also a common mistake. If you lower your back and your body is not in uniform, you are doing it wrong. 

When planking, always ensure that your spine is straight and aligned with your butt. Your elbows should be aligned forward, and your neck should be in a tucked position. 

You must also tighten your legs and engage your core. 

8. Doing the same ab exercises for a prolonged time 

It is natural for you to get comfortable with one workout routine for a long time, mainly because you have become good at it.

However, this is wrong. Your body adapts to stress caused by exercises with time. 

This is the reason why you might not notice any progress if you continue doing the same exercise for a prolonged period of time. 

You need to explore other activities that will help in building your abdominal muscles. 

Incorporating exercises such as yoga can help you strengthen your muscles effectively. 

Bodyweight exercises like burpees also come in handy because they target and build multiple muscles in your body. 

Doing the same exercise can also making working out boring. You need to try new challenges to keep the excitement going.

9. Overtraining and not giving your body time to rest

In as much as you want to get abs as soon as possible, you need to let your body rest. 

When you train your muscles regularly, they become sore. They, therefore, need time to heal and rejuvenate. Failure to this, you can get overuse injuries because muscles get strained.

Your performance is affected adversely, and you have fitness burnouts. 

As such, set rest days whereby you don’t exercise at all; on some days, you can do low-intensity workouts.

When starting on your fitness journey, do not go all in. Learn the technique first. Exercise moderately and gradually. You can increase the intensity of the workouts.

Avoid combining all your week’s fitness activity into a few sessions and working out for very long hours. Instead, break them down into shorter sessions with manageable exercises. 

10. Not having an accountability partner 

Creating and following through with a workout program is not a very easy thing to do. 

You are likely to lose focus and motivation, especially when things are not going the way you want them.

That is why you need someone to hold you accountable. It could be your friend, partner, family member, or just anyone to ensure that you are honest with your fitness goals.

A right accountability partner would be someone who you work out with. This kind of person knows precisely what you want to achieve and what you are supposed to do. 

The decision to accomplish your goal of building abs should come from you. However, having a person who pushes you at times to achieve it will increase the chances of success. 


Avoiding the ab training mistakes above will enable you to get a six-pack faster as opposed to when you keep on repeating them.

If your routine does not enable you to get your desired results, you need to evaluate where the problem is.

It could be that your diet is inadequate or you are executing the exercises in the wrong way. 

You might not be aware of the errors you are making, and this is why you need an accountability partner. Having a personal fitness trainer is ideal too. 

About the author

Nikita Clark

As a personal trainer that specializes in weight loss and body transformation, I know how it feels to be overweight. Just 10 years ago, I could barely walk for two minutes without needing a rest. But I turned my life around and I want to help you do the same.  

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