AB EXERCISES - YOUR SPECIAL SIX-PACK training plan

Table of Contents

We all have different goals and ideas surrounding our weight. And for those seeking a flat stomach or even a six-pack, it’s a long road and a lot of work to make them reality. That doesn’t mean the extra effort isn’t worth it, though. Here, we explain everything you need to know to reach your goals.

1. HOW CAN YOU BUILD YOUR ABS?

To develop your ab muscles, there are two things you need to do: The first is that you need to focus on working out your entire body, not just the area you want to improve. When you lose weight, you never know exactly where it’s going to come from because our bodies don’t work like that. Even if you do a million sit-ups, you may still end up losing fat from your rear before your tummy, and that’s just because of the way your body is built. By working out your full body, you’ll lose fat everywhere, not just where you think you want to. From there, adding targeted ab workouts to your routine can help you reach your goals even faster.

The second secret to achieving your abdominal goals is what you eat. A healthy diet will keep your body running properly so you’re able to get the most out of your workouts every time. Use our free body check to find out just how hard you need to work. It allows you to calculate your BMI, and comes with personalized nutrition advice from experts as well as recommendations to excellent products.

2. ABS: THE BASICS

  • We use our abs to stabilize our core.
  • All abdominal muscles should be engaged at once.
  • It’s important to balance training your core and abdominal muscles with training your back muscles to maintain a healthy posture.

3. AB WORKOUTS: HOW TO DO THEM CORRECTLY

There are many different workouts for abs. However, it’s important to build a training program that works for you — preferably something you’re at least a little familiar with so you’re not totally in the dark when you get started. That way you’ll be able to tell when you’ve made progress and make adjustments as necessary, whether that’s adding more weight or doing more repetitions. After you’ve been doing the same program for a few weeks, we always advise updating it to suit your current needs, so that your muscles continue to develop rather than stagnate.

Since the abdominal muscles are part of the core of our bodies, they keep our upper bodies stabilized all the time — when you’re standing, walking, or even sitting. That’s why it’s so important to have this group of muscles well trained.

Some of the best abs exercises include crunches, sit-ups, leg lifts, bicycle crunches, Russian twists, and plank position. These will work the central and oblique ab muscles and ensure good muscle definition. 

But to really ensure you see the results you’re looking for, it’s important to combine these targeted ab exercises with regular cardio exercise and strength training like HIIT. It’s these whole body exercises that will help you lose fat overall and enable a targeted sixpack workout to get you the core of your dreams.

4. HOW TO EAT TO GUARANTEE WEIGHT LOSS

In addition to a training program with the right ab workout, eating well plays a huge role in the progress you make. If you’re training regularly, eating a balanced diet will ensure your muscles have all the nutrients they need to recover properly so that you’re able to start sweating again in no time.

Of course, you need to lose fat to develop abs, and the best way to do that is to eat fewer calories a day than you expend. In general, you should only eat between 300 to 500 fewer calories a day to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients you need and that you don’t accidentally make yourself over-hungry.

Use our free Body Check to figure out exactly how many calories you need to cut a day to meet your goals when you want to.

Whenever you cut calories, it’s important to rethink your diet. Before you get started, write down the foods you eat daily for a week or more, so you have a better overview of what you eat in general and help you figure out what to eliminate (or replace). Use our Shape Shake to guarantee you’re getting the nutrients you need without consuming a lot of calories. Try it as an abs workout snack or even an addition to dinnertime!

5. HOW MUCH FAT DO YOU NEED TO LOSE TO SEE ABS?

As with many factors that affect the human body, it’s difficult to know exactly how much weight you need to lose to develop abs. Women have, by nature, more body fat than men, and everyone loses and gains weight differently, so it can be really hard to know how your body will react. If your goal is a flat tummy, your best bet is to maintain a body fat ratio of between 16 to 20 percent for women and 10 to 14 percent for men.

Once again, this isn’t necessarily true for everyone. Our bodies are all different and some people store fat in different areas than others. For example, if you tend to store more fat in your hips, you may have an easier time developing abs than someone who stores fat in their belly. But obviously you don’t have a choice where it’s stored, so it’s not up to you where it goes.

There’s also a difference between the kinds of fat we carry on our bodies. Subcutaneous fat is located between the skin and the muscles and is usually the reason you might not be able to see your ab muscles. Visceral fat is found between the muscles and organs and is much more problematic because it can lead to health issues.

6. ABDOMINAL MUSCLES IN ALL THEIR FORMS

If you’ve already managed to develop a six-pack, you may be aiming to get it even bigger (maybe an 8-pack or 10-pack!). Unfortunately we don't all have the same biological capacities, and some people literally can’t develop as many ab muscles as others.

Not to mention, the way each "unit" of your six-pack muscles develops can even vary from person to person. Sometimes they can be perfectly symmetrical and other times not — bottom line, there’s no one right way to look!

7. THE MOST EFFECTIVE AB WORKOUTS

There are lots of exercises to help you tighten your core! You can totally vary or increase the degree of difficulty or work with extra weights. Choose an abs workout from one of these:

1. High Knees

Difficulty:

Medium


Target:

Abdominal, pelvic, and leg muscles


Important:

Keep your back and upper body straight.


Easy variation:

Slow down the pace.


Difficult variation:

Pick up the pace.


2. Sit-ups

Difficulty:

Medium


Target:

Abdominal, pelvic, and lower back muscles


Important:

Keep your back straight.


Easy variation:

Hold your feet with a weight or a dumbbell to keep them in place.


Difficult variation:

Reduce the distance between your feet and your rear.


3. Plank

Difficulty:

Easy


Target:

Core stability


Important:

Rest on your forearms, legs straight, back straight. Tighten your abdominal muscles and tuck your pelvis slightly inwards to avoid arching your lower back.


Easy variation:

Keep your knees bent and rest on your knees instead of your toes.


Difficult variation:

Stretch your right arm forward, then switch and repeat for your left arm.


4. Leg Raises

Difficulty:

Medium


Target:

Abdominal, pelvic, and lower back muscles


Important:

During the exercise, there must be no space between your back and the mat. You shouldn’t be able to put your hands under your glutes. This helps you avoid arching your back. Make sure you slowly lower your legs, don’t let them fall to the floor.

 

Easy variation:

Keep your knees bent.


Difficult variation:

Once your legs are in the air, push your hips up at the top of the movement.


5. Russian Twists with and without weights

Difficulty:

Hard


Target:

Central abdominal and oblique muscles


Important:

Your legs should move as little as possible, your upper body should stay straight, and your hips should stay in line.


Easy variation:

Perform the exercise without weights.


Difficult variation:

Perform the exercise with a partner and a medicine ball. Catch it while you are in the center of your motion, hold it while you twist, then throw it back again after the twist.


6. Crunches

Difficulty:

Easy


Target: 

Abdominal muscles


Important:

Your head shouldn’t touch the ground while you do this exercise. Keep your hands behind your head, but not on the nape of your neck. Keep your chin pointed slightly up in the air to keep your spine aligned.


Easy variation:

Hold your feet down with a weight or dumbbell to keep them in place.


Difficult variation:

Reduce the distance between your feet and your rear.



8. HOW TO WORK OUT YOUR ABS WITHOUT EQUIPMENT

Our new workout page includes several core workouts. You can choose a workout tailored perfectly to your own level of fitness.

9. 5 MISTAKES THAT CAN COST YOU YOUR SIX-PACK

1. RELYING ON CRASH DIETS

Crash diets may melt away the pounds quickly, but they won't help you get a six-pack in the long run. The weight you lose on a crash diet is mostly water and muscle, while the pesky fat on top of your core muscles is likely to stay put.

2. DRINKING HIDDEN CALORIES

You've started monitoring your calorie intake but aren’t counting drinks? Juices, sodas, and alcohol in particular have more calories than you might think.

3. DOING NOTHING BUT CARDIO

Going jogging because you want to define your six-pack, and it's still not really showing up? That's because you have to train your core regularly to get a visible six-pack.

4. EXERCISING ONLY YOUR ABS

Doing nothing but a few sit-ups a day and ending up with a nice washboard stomach is just a pipe dream. Because if you only work on your core muscles, you won't burn enough calories to lose belly fat. Go for a mixture of full-body HIIT workouts and light cardio instead.

5. NOT TAKING BREAKS

It's great that you're motivated, but if you want to build up your muscles, you need to give them a break now and then. Your body needs rest to create new muscle mass and prepare for the next challenge.

10. OUR TIPS AND TRICKS

If you train your abs regularly, be careful to work on your back muscles as well to maintain a healthy posture. Otherwise, the constant tension in your core may give you a hunched back or kyphosis.

A core training program can also help relieve back pain by giving you more support.

In the same vein, keeping your tummy muscles in shape also helps to correct hyperlordosis, better known as an arched back. As you strengthen muscles on your front, while loosening and stretching those in your back, you may see improvement in the long run.

11. Our conclusion

  • Abdominal muscles stabilize your core.
  • Always work on all of them in the same workout.
  • Make sure to focus on building up your back muscles to ensure a healthy and upright posture.
  • You won't get a visible six-pack from sit-ups alone.
  • For women, a body fat ratio of 16-20% has the best chance of a visible six-pack.
  • For men, a body fat ratio of 10-14% has the best chance of a visible six-pack.
  • A strong six-pack can help with back problems.