Let’s be honest from the outset; building up your abs can be difficult but it does not need to be overly complicated.
Yes, we have all heard the saying that ‘abs are made in the kitchen’ but if you are throwing in a few crunches at the end of a work out then the word ‘futile’ springs to mind.
Granted, your diet is absolutely paramount to shift the stubborn fat that sticks to your abs and to fuel your workouts effectively.
However, to help you off show your six or eight-pack, just like any other muscle group in the body it will need to be trained properly.
If you are not training your abs properly then you really need to stop wasting your time!
Here’s a closer look at the abs and some tips for getting ripped abs.
What Do The “Abs” Consist Of?
The Rectus Abdominis
The muscle that reaches from the highest point of the pelvis to the sternum is known as the rectus abdominis.
This is the part of the abs which, when properly developed (expecting that the individual has low enough muscle to fat ratio ratios levels), will give the appearance of a six-pack.
When you move, this is the part of your body that draws your upper chest toward your hips when you’re flexed at the waist.
The Oblique Muscles
The obliques are the muscles at the sides of the waist. The obliques consist of three layers of muscles: the inside obliques, the transverse obliques and outside obliques.
Together, these muscles contract to tilt the midsection, and also contort it from side to side.
The Serratus Muscles
The serratus muscles are the finger-like strands of muscle on the rib area between the front abs and the lats.
Their job is to protect the rib enclosure and likewise support in bringing the upper arms from the front of your body to your sides.
The Intercostal Muscles
The intercostals are the muscles that lie between the ribs. These show as groups of muscle that descend in the sides of the rib confine and the upper mid-region.
How Do I Get Ripped Abs?
Losing fat from your midsection is the first step to getting ripped abs. You are going to have to work hard in order to make sure that that happens.
One of the greatest falsehoods about getting ripped abs is that you need to perform a number of exercises or buy a lot of different items in order to get the results that you’re looking for.
The reality of the situation is you can do crunches all day, every day, and purchase every exercise device ever constructed, but you will never see a “six pack” if they’re covered with fat!
You need to burn that fat off so that you can actually see your abdominal muscles.
A lean, perfectly carved set of abs is likely at the top of the list for many people who are looking to impress the people around them. The guarantee of a great looking midsection is the main mental inspiration they have to push through an intense workout or to eat meals that may not necessarily be appealing to them (high protein, low-calorie meals).
By making yourself “pumped” mentally, you will be able to pump yourself up physically as well. The more mentally ready you are, the easier it will be for you to succeed with your goal of “getting ripped.”
While your diet and nutrition plan is incredibly important in helping you achieve that ripped look in your abs. You also need to make sure you are training your abs with consistency as well.
General abs training not just helps you attain the look you’re trying for, but it also makes it easier to work on all the lifts that burn the most fat like the squat and deadlift.
You have to take care of multiple parts of the body at the same time in order to see the results that you’re looking for.
Most people know that they have to regularly exercise and train the abdominal area in order to attain great abs. The issue is, once you're done pushing yourself to exhaustion at the gym, you likely would prefer not to plunge into an abs session.
To cure this, most professionals will book one session a week just for abs, calves and lower arms.
If you are doing it all at the same time, it guarantees that you're giving your all. And that you aren’t giving them the short end of the stick when it comes to your fitness routine.
That way, you don’t have to worry about ignoring them in the midst of a great workout routine, and you will start to see progress where it may not have been before.
Compound Versus Isolated Exercises
Admittedly having your abs on show is aesthetically pleasing. They also serve a purpose in strengthening and stabilising the mid-section of your core during the big lifts.
Think of the major compound core exercises such as deadlifts etc. as the core straighteners/builders and the isolated exercises such as the crunches, jackknifes and twists as your abdominal definers.
You need both types of exercise for your abs to appear and they are both as important as each other.
In terms of the compound exercises, many of the big lifts are performed during the main parts of your work out.
It is often the chiselling exercises that are left out of your regime and they are thrown in as an after-thought.
Around 7% bodyweight is the magic number for you to start showing your abs and you may need to increase your cardio training to burn the extra body fat off.
Performing spot exercises such as crunches and twists are sometimes used by those looking for a six-pack. Unfortunately, they are not very good at all for burning body fat.
Add Some Tabata HIIT Into The Mix
Tabata training is excellent for stripping fat and building muscle. Fundamentally you need to work at 100% VO2 max for 20 seconds e.g. sprinting and skipping and then rest for 10 seconds.
You perform this for 8 rounds which equates to 4 minutes. As you become fitter you can build up the blocks of 4 minutes up to 16 minutes. This will maximise your fat-burning potential.
There is evidence to suggest that Tabata style training can burn 10 times as much fat as conventional cardio and this has been attributed to an increase in the ‘after burn’ effect.
In fact, Tabata training can burn fat up to 24 hours after you stop exercising and it can also increase testosterone, human growth hormone and IGF-1. These are all powerful fat burning and muscle building hormones.
Ab Workout Examples
You should use these workouts as a bolt-on to your current workouts. They follow a hypertrophy protocol which uses a higher rep range whilst using a shortened rest interval in between sets.
By using this model will definitely give you a burning sensation from your abs. This is a sign that the muscle fibres are being activated effectively.
Try to work through the ‘burn’ and concentrate on using good form throughout each of the exercises.
For this and the following workouts do 2 sets of between 15 and 25 reps with a rest of 45 seconds.
- Swiss ball Crunches
- Hanging Leg Raises
- Side V Ins
- Swiss Ball Side Crunches
- Low Arm Crunches
- Hanging Knee Raises
- 3 way Planks
- Dragon Flags
- Swiss Ball Jack Knifes
- Swiss Ball Leg Raises
- Wind screen wipers
- Hanging Leg Raises
- Russian Twists
The great thing about abs is that the exercises are easy, and you can do them almost anywhere. Cycle between different types of crunches for sets of 12-20 reps.
You can even do them in the workplace. Every once in a while, you should take a break at work and cycle through a couple of activities that will help to develop your abs.
Put the time and energy into your efforts and keep working at it. Make it a part of your lifestyle and get some sort of ab work in wherever you go. You’ll eventually start to see a difference in your abs and you will soon get ripped!