Visible abdominal muscles, or washboard abs, the seemingly ever-elusive but ultimate fitness goal for many. Everybody actually already has abs, but more often than not, they are hidden under a layer of, sometimes dangerous, fat. While you cannot spot reduce fat, meaning you cannot target a specific part of your body and get rid of the fat there, there are ways to make your abs more defined.
But, getting washboard abs is not as easy as just showing up to the gym and doing core exercises. Pronounced abs take time, effort, and dedication. Follow these 10 tips for the best abs of your life.
1. Stay in Control!
When you use your momentum to complete an exercise you are taking away valuable ab work. Instead, keep your ab muscles contracted throughout the entire range of motion for optimal results.
Staying in control throughout your ab workout will help you achieve those washboard abs you’re looking for!
2. Add the Bike
Not a physical bike, but the exercise move. Lie faceup, bring the right knee and left elbow towards each other, then switch sides. The bicycle is one of the best waist-firming exercises because it uses every muscle in your abs, according to an American Council on Exercise study.
If you prefer doing regular crunches, try them on a stability ball. Your core will have to work harder to stabilize your position and it allows you to move through a larger range of motion, compared to doing them on a flat surface.
3. Take Advantage of the Fall Weather
Take advantage of the crisp fall weather and changing leaves and take to the water with your kayak. Most of your rowing power will come from your core. If you do not have access to a body of water or kayak, you can mimic the motion at home.
First, loop an exercise band around the bottom of a fixed surface, like a table leg. Then, sit on the floor with your legs extended, knees slightly bent; grasp one end of the band in each hand. Rotate your torso to one side, bringing your elbow back slightly, then switch sides. Do three sets lasting one to three minutes each.
4. Take a Deep Breath!
Engaging the deepest muscles of your abs during any exercise, or even just while you are sitting in a chair, requires just a simple way of breathing.
Inhale, then exhale and pull your belly button toward your spine, without hunching your shoulders forward. Remember not to just suck in your stomach.
There is an age-old adage about abs being made in the kitchen. This phrase does have some truth to it because to lose fat, you need to be in a calorie deficit, which is going to be much harder to reach when pizza is a staple of your diet.
A single pound of fat contains about 3,500 calories. To burn one pound of fat per week you need to have a deficit of 500 calories per day, whether that is through exercise, diet, or both. To be able to display an obvious set of washboard abs, you cannot have more than 15 percent body fat.
Again, no matter how hard you try, you cannot spot reduce fat. This is where cardio comes into play.
Cardio helps burn stored calories and there is not an ab-specific workout that will be able to reveal your abs without the help of cardio.
Sit-ups and crunches are staples of core exercises for a reason, they work. However, your muscles adapt quickly to certain exercises and may stop responding altogether. To avoid this, switch up your workouts every 4-6 weeks by changing your exercises, repetitions, or weights used.
You also want to do a wide variety of movements to target all of the ab muscles, not just the rectus abdominis, or the “six-pack.” Incorporate side bridges, pilates, planks, bicycles, and hip-ups for variety as you train up to get washboard abs.
8. Don’t Overtrain
Surprisingly, the amount of time you work your abs and the results you see are not always positively correlated. Doing too many core exercises can actually increase the risk of injury to your lower back.
Like all of your other muscles, your abs also need time to rest and recover. Incorporate core workouts into your exercise regimen two to three nonconsecutive days of the week.
When in doubt, talk with your coach to get tips on how many exercises, what types of exercises, and how frequently to train your abs.
9. Be Consistent and Balanced
While you can lose weight on diet alone, you may be losing lean muscle as well as fat. Balance your routine by combining exercise and a healthy diet to ensure you are burning more fat than muscle.
Additionally, make sure you are consistent with both diet and exercise to get the results you want. Your personal trainer can help guide you and provide tips on what to eat, and how to keep your diet balanced as you train and develop washboard abs.
Washboard abs, otherwise known as a six-pack or chiseled abdominal muscles, are well-exercised ab muscles that become visible with consistent training. The bumps of a well-trained rectus abdominis muscle resemble an old-fashioned laundry washboard, hence the name.
The great news about ab workouts is that they can be done both at the gym and at home. 6 ab exercises to perform at home include the flat bench leg raise, flutter kicks, toe reach, reverse crunch, bicycle crunch, and the Russian twist. Consistent training at home using these exercises plus dietary changes can help you develop those washboard abs you want. Read more about how to get started with a 15 minute at home abs and cardio workout.
To get washboard abs quickly, you’ll want to incorporate a high-intensity interval training along with ab-sculpting exercises, as recommended by your personal trainer. Along with dietary changes, you can start to see results in about 1 to 3 months of training.