Tips For Getting Visible Abs
You probably have heard that abs are made in the kitchen. While it's true that what you eat will affect the overall outcome, it's not the only way you'll develop abs.
I'm in no way advocating that you need to have prominent abs in order to prove you're a fit individual. Abs are in all honesty, more of a vanity than a necessity. They look nice aesthetically, but depending on your phenotype and lifestyle, they might ultimately be unsustainable.
If you're female*, depending on where you are on your cycle and hormonal daily fluctuations might contribute to bloating, making seeing abs a bit more challenging.
However, if even after all that you're still interested in knowing the best way to develop abs, I have some truth bombs to share with you.
As I mentioned above, what you eat does affect the overall outcome. It's easier to notice muscle definition if you carry a lower body fat percentage. On that note, if you're carrying a bit of extra fat, getting into a caloric deficit while following an appropriate exercise routine, will most definitely help you achieve your results faster.
Another component of food is avoiding foods that increases your chance of bloating and/or retaining liquids. This part is actually trickier than being in a caloric deficit, because figuring out your food intolerances on your own can be very time consuming. For this issue, I'd recommend seeing a physician, dietitian, or a gastroenterologist to help you figure out exactly what's the best "diet" for you.
I have to discuss this with clients often which is, "why aren't there more ab exercises in my program?". A myth that goes around a lot is, Abs need to be trained every day in order to show definition. Although I see a lot of fitness influencers posting Ab workouts on a daily, it is absolutely FALSE that you need to train Abs every day.
Like any other muscle in your body, they need to rest in order to repair themselves.
You can choose to train abs everyday in a program, so long as you keep it to 2 exercises maximum, and have a proper amount of sets and reps combined. That way, you're not overworking them and/or overwhelming their development.
Another way you can train abs is to have 1 or 2 days where you combine Abs and Cardio for instance, or Abs and a Total Body Circuit.
Types of Exercises:
Your midsection is a very important session to build strength. It acts like a belt to protect your spine while you lift heavy weights. Although, Planks and its variants are extremely important to work your Transversus abdominis ( the deep core muscles that aids stabilization), they do nothing for the visible abs effects. The six or 8 pack muscles you see on athletes and body builders are the Rectus Abdominis, and those are the muscles you want to grow.
In order to have visible abs, you need to train the Rectus Abdominis for hypertrophy. Just like you perform a full range of motion exercise to train your biceps to grow and become visible, it is no different when it comes to abs. Doing exercises that allows the abs to complete and follow its full range of motion for a determined about of sets and reps, is what is going to make them grow and consequently become more visible. As adaptation occurs as in with any muscle group, you'll need to add weights in order to challenge them to continue growing.
Some exercises that are great for growing ab muscles are:
- Diamond Sit-Ups (Click Here)
- Weighted Ab Crunches (Click Here)
- Stability Ball Plank Tucks (Click Here)
- Kneeling Rope or Resistance Band Crunches (Click Here)
- Kneeling Weighted Ab Crunches (Click Here)
- Elevated Legs Weighted Sit-ups (Click Here)
- Ab Knee Tucks (Click Here)
- Stability Ball Reverse Hip Raises (Click Here)
- Weighted Standing Side Crunches (Click Here)
Some people give up one food group, workout once a week and BAM! They have visible abs. Most are Ectomorphs
Some people will train moderately, follow a good nutrition plan, and have somewhat visible abs depending on their body fat percentage. Most are Mesomorphs.
Some people, will train at high intensity, follow a strict (but hopefully nutritious) meal plan, and have somewhat visible abs depending on their body fat percentage. Most are Endomorphs.
Although we humans are usually a combinations of different body types, it is important to understand that achieving abs will be harder for some than others depending on an individuals' phenotype.
If you're a part of the lean and tall club, you're an Ectomorph, and achieving abs for you is a matter of training them the right way, and eliminating foods that cause water retention and other intolerances.
If you're tall to medium stature, naturally muscular or look thick boned, you're a Mesomorph. You'll achieve abs by training the right way, and maintaining your body fat percentage at a lower (albeit healthy) range.
If you're medium to short stature and have natural soft features, you're an Endomorph. You'll most likely achieve abs by following a caloric deficit diet, pay attention to water retention and food intolerances, and train your ab muscles for hypertrophy so they can grow and show through the skin once you lower your body fat percentage.
Being realistic about how you can achieve visible abs, and that you shouldn't maintain visible abs if it will hinder you from living an enjoyable life, is important.
The Take Away:
What you eat is only one part of the equation in order to achieve visible abs. You'll need to work on them in order to make the muscles develop and consequently make them visible as you lower your body fat percentage.
Abs will be easier to achieve depending on your phenotype, and consequently might be unsustainable to maintain long term.
You do not need to train your abs everyday in order for them to develop, but you do need to in addition to core stabilization exercises, perform exercises that will allow you to use its full range of motion, in order to achieve muscle hypertrophy of the ab muscles.
Exercises that you can progress with reps, sets, and loads are the most appropriate to achieve muscle hypertrophy of the Rectus Abdominis.
Don't worry about having visible abs if it is something extremely difficult for you to maintain. The most important thing is to work on your stabilizing muscles, work on your core and lower back, so you can avoid injuries while performing any exercise or lifting.