How to make your abs show
A set of washboard abs is one of the most visible benchmarks for male physiques – a true sign of dedication and one that you see plastered on billboards and fashion posters across the globe. For women, a toned stomach with visible abs is a great indicator of your fitness and strength.
However, for most people, getting your abs to show can be a tricky challenge. There are a number of factors involved in training your stomach. If you want a rock-hard set of abs that can be spotted on the beach, you’ll need to be aware of the 10 reasons you can’t see your abs.
1. You have too much body fat.
The single most important aspect when it comes to getting your abs to show is having a low body fat percentage. All humans have abdominal muscles that can be made more visible with training – but ultimately to see your abs you need to be at 10% body fat or less (18% or less for women.)
Ditch the fad diets and stop performing endless crunches. If you’ve got too much body fat you’re not getting anywhere.
2. You focus on sit-ups and crunches.
Performing endless amounts of bodyweight crunches and sit ups will not build up much in the way of ab muscle and certainly won’t help drastically reduce body fat. While bodyweight exercises will help boost your metabolism and burn calories – there are many more effective exercises you can do instead.
3. You’re forgetting how to actually build muscle.
One of the best ways to build muscle is to perform heavier sets with fewer reps. This means adding resistance to any ab exercises you’re doing. Experiment with cable crunches and doing sit-ups whilst holding a weight plate. Performing lower reps such as 10-12 for 3 sets with a weight can yield better muscular growth than doing 100 unweighted crunches at a time.
4. You’re overtraining the ab area.
Excluding fitness professionals whose bodies are used to their constant daily routine of training their abs at the end of sessions, the average gym goer should understand that rest is just as important as training. Like your arms or legs, your abs need time to recover and grow.
5. Your nutrition plan is not effective.
If any of the 10 reasons you can’t see your abs was to be key – this might be it. The importance of losing body fat has already been presented – but to actually lose the weight you’ll need to be eating in a caloric deficit.
Fad diet tactics to rapidly reduce weight such as liquid diets might get you a visible set of abs for a single day, but then you’ll pile weight back on.
Instead, your nutrition should be tailored around a reduction of calories whilst continuing to eat healthy food. Cut down on refined carbohydrates and sugary treats. One of the truest fitness anecdotes you’ll ever hear is that ‘Abs are made in the kitchen.’
6. You may have non-ideal genetics.
Sometimes it’s not about how to get your abs to grow. Sometimes, It’s a case of having poor ab genetics. Some people are more genetically inclined to lose weight quickly in the stomach area and have more pronounced, well-built abs at greater levels of body fat. There are people who can still have visible abs at 15% body fat, where others may need to hit a little as 6%.
Do the best you can to reduce your body fat and don’t compare yourself to others – they may have an unfair advantage. Your hard work will pay off.
7. You may be too stressed or too tired.
When stressed, your body releases cortisol. An excess amount hinders fat loss. Cortisol is catabolic, which means it can break down tissue. If you’re trying to get abs, you’ll want to put your body in an anabolic state – so avoiding stress is vital.
Sleep puts cortisol levels at their lowest during your slow wave sleep stage. Prioritizing a good night’s rest will help put your body in the best state it can be to lose weight and build muscle.
8. You might be drinking too much alcohol.
Are you often heading out with the intention of having a few beers on the weekend but often ending up with a full weekend of excess drinking? Your body will not be grateful. Just as you need to lose body fat, you also need to cut down on alcohol.
Whether you’re downing pints or sticking to slimline drinks, alcohol is still a catastrophic hindrance in getting your abs to show. The excess calories aside, alcohol reduces testosterone, messes up your sleep pattern, shuts down fat burning and strains the liver. If you want to look ‘cut’, you’ll need to cut the alcohol.
9. You have unrealistic time expectations.
Getting ripped isn’t the quick process you might think it is. Losing body fat is a hard thing that requires time and dedication. Your body does not want to make a quick change – and due to the low amount of bodyfat you need to have visible abs, you might feel like they’re never going to show and give up.
As long as you eat at a caloric deficit, put healthy foods in your body and perform the right kinds of exercise, you’ll see results. Just don’t expect to see them instantly.
10. You’re not sticking to a routine.
With every single fitness goal – whether it’s to build lots of mass, gain strength, slim down, compete in an event, or getting your abs to show, dedication is the single most important thing. You need to give a routine time to work. Don’t just switch from one gimmick to the next and expect to see a six pack.
Hard work, effort and a well-structured routine will get your abs to show. You’ll need a strict caloric deficit combined with cardio exercise to help lose fat and some mass-building stomach exercises to really get your abs to ‘pop.’ Stick to the routine, give it time and you’ll see the results of your hard work.