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7 Worst Daily Habits That Are Ruining Your Abs

Can’t sculpt washboard abs? This may be why.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

Let's face the facts: Achieving toned, well-defined abs is frustrating. You can do all the sit-ups and crunches you want, but if your daily habits aren't aligned with your fitness goals, you're likely sabotaging your hard work trying to develop a sculpted midsection. The truth is, certain daily habits can impede your progress and prevent you from achieving the abs you desire. Identifying and addressing these detrimental behaviors is essential for reaching your fitness goals, whether it's poor dietary choices or lifestyle habits. Fortunately for you, we chatted with Jarrod Nobbe, CPT, a certified personal trainer with Garage Gym Reviews, who shares seven of the worst daily habits that ruin your abs.

We hope that by bringing awareness to these habits, you can make the necessary adjustments to build a fit and toned abdomen. Remember, achieving solid and chiseled abs requires a multifaceted approach combining exercise and healthy lifestyle choices. Avoiding the following habits will pave the way for a stronger core and a more defined midsection.

If you're ready to take your ab game to the next level, keep reading for the worst daily habits that ruin your abs and completely hinder your progress. And when you're finished, check out The Only 7 Belly Fat Exercises Worth Doing at the Gym.

Ignoring your abs

woman performing deep squat stretches for weight loss outdoors with beautiful city view

Many people focus solely on weight loss or building strength in other areas, disregarding their core muscles. That's unfortunate since your abs are crucial in providing stability and supporting your entire body, according to the Mayo Clinic.

"You should always be conscious of how your core supports your posture and movement," says Nobbe. "If you don't actively engage your abs during movements like the squat or deadlift or when sitting or standing, you're missing out on opportunities to strengthen your core."


eating a donut

"Nutrition is arguably the biggest piece of the puzzle regarding ab visibility. Overdoing it on unhealthy foods or high-calorie drinks is a common reason that people aiming to carve out chiseled abs don't achieve that goal," explains Nobbe.

No matter how hard you work out, excessive calorie consumption and poor food choices will negatively impact your progress. Overindulging in sugary treats, processed foods, and unhealthy fats will only contribute to belly fat accumulation. Instead, focus on consuming a balanced diet rich in lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

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Doing the same ab exercises all the time

man doing bicycle crunches at the gym as part of a strength and conditioning workout

Repeating the same ab exercises daily can lead to a plateau and limit your progress. That's because your muscles adapt to repetitive movements, resulting in diminished effectiveness over time. To challenge your abs and continue making gains, incorporate exercises targeting different areas of your core. For example, mix things up with exercises like planks, Russian twists, bicycle crunches, and leg raises to engage various abdominal muscles and maximize your results.

"Just like the rest of your muscles, the abs will adapt to the movements you put them through over time. This means that to keep your abs challenged, you must switch up your workouts regularly—ideally at least every month or two," says Nobbe.

Overtraining your abs

mature man doing situps as part of middle-aged workout group class

"While targeted core training can help you progress toward your ab goals, it's important to remember that muscles need rest to make progress," says Nobbe. "It's common practice to do some core work a few times a week or even daily at the end of workouts, but if you hit your abs particularly hard or feel extra sore, either reduce the frequency or intensity of your ab work to avoid overtraining."

Your abs are like any other muscle group and require adequate rest and recovery to grow stronger. Avoid overly intense ab workouts that may lead to muscle fatigue, strain, or injury. Instead, aim for a balanced approach by incorporating ab exercises into your routine two or three times per week, allowing ample time for recovery between sessions.

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Staying sedentary

woman living sedentary lifestyle on couch, things incredibly healthy people never do

Research shows prolonged sitting and inactivity contribute to weight gain, muscle loss, and a sluggish metabolism. Instead, incorporate regular physical activity into your daily routine through structured workouts, active hobbies, or moving more throughout the day.

"Exercising consistently is awesome, but putting in an hour or so of work won't negate sitting down for the rest of the day when it comes to boosting your metabolism," states Nobbe. "Try to incorporate movement outside of your workouts, like taking a lunchtime stroll or standing up to stretch and walk every hour or so if you sit at a desk all day."

Not getting enough sleep

woman yawning, tired at home

"Sleep is a key aspect of getting fitter, and poor sleep has been linked to unhealthy eating habits and difficulty reaching fitness goals," says Nobbe. "Getting at least seven to eight hours of sleep a night consistently is important to avoid the effects that sleep deprivation may have on your routine and your midsection."

According to the Sleep Foundation, inadequate sleep can disrupt hormonal balance and increase appetite. Remember: A well-rested body and mind will enhance your energy levels, mental focus, and motivation to stick to your fitness goals and achieve sculpted abs.

Not managing stress properly

man stressed working on laptop

Believe it or not, stress can impact your abs. Chronic stress triggers the release of cortisol, a hormone that can increase belly fat storage, according to a 2018 study. Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as practicing mindfulness, engaging in relaxation techniques, or pursuing activities that bring you joy. Reducing stress levels can create a more conducive environment for achieving your desired ab definition.

"Stress elevates cortisol levels, slowing your metabolism and making staying lean more difficult. Try incorporating mindful breathing or meditation into your routine to keep stress at bay and help your abs stay toned," advises Nobbe.

Adam Meyer
Adam is a health writer, certified holistic nutritionist, and 100% plant-based athlete. Read more about Adam
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