Abs are the muscles that pretty much everyone wants, but unfortunately they’re also some of the most difficult to develop. The problem is that developing great abs is much more difficult than developing bulging biceps or huge pecs. Why? Because you can’t go about it in the exact same way – to see your abs you need to not only develop a lot of strength in your mid-section with exercise but also strip away your body fat to sub 10%.
Anything higher and your abs won’t be visible seeing as that’s where fat likes to build up for most of us. On top of this, abs are hard to train with resistance because they don’t have hands and because adding too much weight to a sit-up can potentially put your back at risk.
While you can get huge pecs by bench pressing heavy weights regularly, getting ripped abs means doing a number of painful exercises more regularly, cutting back on your favorite foods and running long distances regularly.
In other words, it’s a little more complicated. Luckily though, we’ve outlined something of a ‘roadmap’ you can use to get there:
The best way to start getting your abs to shine is to train them directly with bodyweight exercises. Many people will use sit ups and crunches to this end, but unfortunately neither of these are really challenging enough to trigger the results you probably want. Instead then, you need to make things a little tougher and here are some exercises that are perfect for letting you accomplish that:
- Ab roll-outs – here you use an ab roller (or a skateboard) while on your knees or feet and roll your upper body forward until it’s completely straight. This is a tough exercise and one that requires a lot of core strength, it also happens to trigger great hypertrophy
- Leg raises and frog kicks – hanging from a pull up bar, raise your feet directly up in front of you (leg raises) or bring your knees up to your chest (frog kicks)
- Myotatic crunch – this is a crunch except you are leaning back further than flat. You do this by lying across a bosu ball or similar. This extends your range of motion and lets you hit the abs in a new and more efficient way.
Those two exercises will train your rectus abdominis – the flat sheet of muscle that houses your six pack. At the same time though you also want to train your transverse abdominis which is the ‘band’ of muscle that holds your stomach in. You train this by using stomach vacuums and you can practice those first thing in the morning even while you’re lying in bed. This will flatten your stomach and really give you the abs you’re looking for.
Finally, make sure you’re also training your obliques with twisting variations on sit ups, crunches and other ab exercises. These are the muscles that you see running down either side of your abs and they contribute to a much more ripped looking stomach.
Unlike other muscle groups, you can train your abs daily for best results.
Now you’re building the power in your abs and making them bulge, you need to strip away the fat that is obscuring them. To do this you need to eat less than you’re taking in and especially avoid simple carbs like white bread and sugary foods.
At the same time, add some cardiovascular exercise. The best way to do this quickly and effectively is with HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) where you alternate short bursts of exertion with ‘cool down’ periods of ‘active recovery’. This allows you to burn a lot of calories very quickly meaning you can use these at the ends of your workouts as ‘finishers’. Look up ‘Tabata’ and get ready to burn!