The internet’s obsession with having abs and how to get abs is kind of insane. I mean, I know obliques look good in a crop top and having a strong core is important, but I literally stumble upon some “How To Get Abs So Toned They Could Cut A Diamond” article at least once a day, and frankly it’s getting old. Every fitness influencer on the ‘gram will tell you to do endless crunches and leg lifts, but attaining visible ab definition is so much more than a 10-minute segment at the end of your workout. In fact, if you really want your abs to show, you may even have to adjust your diet (I know, it’s like nails on a chalkboard). If you’re not down to spend hours at the gym doing the 1000 sit-up challenge, here are some legitimate tips on how to get abs.
1. Have Amazing Genes
This reality is so depressing and I’m sorry to be such a downer, but it’s true that genetics play a huge part in having abs. Think of your skinny friend that has had natural abs since seventh grade. I’m guessing she wasn’t doing Russian twists or drinking hot lemon water back then. Some people are just born with the ability to have their abs show at all times, and there’s really nothing else to say. You can def take steps to make your abs look better, but if your body just isn’t made for abs, all you can really do is eat your salad and hate people who are genetically blessed.
2. Stop Eating When Satisfied
A lot of bullshit websites will tell you to count your calories or eat six mini-meals throughout the day, but the real key to slimming down may just listening to your body and not eating until you’re literally too full to function. What does this have to do with how to get abs? Good question. This may surprise you, but everyone has abdominal muscles, and getting them to show is a combination of strengthening them and lowering your body fat. The less body fat you have on your stomach, the more your abs will show. It’s as simple as that. Try to eat until you’re like, 80 percent full and then stop. I know it’s hard, but you’ll feel so much better and may even see some ab definition over time.
3. Add Probiotics To Your Diet
If you’re eating healthy and working out, you should see your abs peek out eventually. BUT, if you have a stubborn digestive system and your body gets bloated or *fluffy* easily, probiotics are a game-changer, and you should get on board. You can buy a probiotic pill over the counter, but honestly some foods are packed with them, so give them a try before resorting to the capsule. (But if you want to just jump to the capsule, we’re here for it.) Professionals recommend trying fermented foods, like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and Kombucha. Probiotics won’t give you abs overnight, but they will help heal your gut and reduce inflammation in your body, which tends to lead to improved digestion, a flatter stomach, and just overall feeling amazing.
4. Eliminate Artificial Sugars
This is another key when it comes to bloating. You may think that dumping three Splendas into your cold brew and sipping on a Diet Coke until lunch is actually making you skinny, but according to recent studies, you’re wrong. In fact, fake sugars like aspartame, sucralose, and saccharin have actually been proven to make you bloated, which will obviously prevent you from seeing your abs. The takeaway here is to basically experiment with what works with your body and what doesn’t. If you know a certain food or ingredient makes you look five times your actual size, you should prob avoid it.
5. Static Holds Are Key
Now let’s talk about ab exercises, because although diet is v important, so is the fitness part. A lot of people think the best ab routines include a million reps and a ton of volume, but sometimes the opposite is even more effective. Static holds include moves like forearm planks, boat pose, bear planks, V sits, and hollow holds. The idea is to engage your core in a challenging position and hold tight for as long as you can. Try to set a timer for 30 seconds, and then work your way up to a minute, then eventually two minutes. If it’s getting easier over time, it’s because your abs are getting stronger, so congrats.
6. Think Slow, Not Fast
It’s weird to think that you should be going slow while working out, because everyone assumes faster equals a better workout. Like, imagine leisurely peddling your bike during a 45-minute spin class. You’d be the joke of SoulCycle. Your abs are different, because when you go fast, you’re more likely to start using momentum and taking the tension away from your core. By doing your ab exercises in a slow and controlled manner, you’re transferring all the tension on the muscles instead of using momentum from your entire body, aka cheating.
7. Non-Ab Exercises Work Too
If you really want to minimize your gym time, you actually don’t have to do any isolated ab work at all. You just have to work on contracting your abs during other exercises. Any workout can be an ab workout if you’re using your core muscles. The thing about strength training is that you have to engage your core during the moves, whether you’re doing squats, lunges, or even dumbbell rows. To fully engage your core, think about bracing your muscles instead of sucking in your stomach, which is where most people screw up. You may need to tuck your pelvis inward a little bit and actually squeeze the muscles in your butt. Another cue is to think about drawing your belly button in while keeping your spine neutral. You may need to try a few different ways, but once you can actually engage your core during any exercise, you’re toning your abs without doing specific ab work. It’s a win for everybody.
Images: PicJumbo / Pexels; Giphy (7)
Have you ever scrolled through Instagram, found a picture of some fitness model’s ridiculously chiseled six-pack, and wondered how the hell her body looks like that? So like, same. You’ve probably been told that “abs are made in the kitchen,” and while that’s depressingly true, doing the right core exercises makes a huge difference when it comes to seeing ab definition. Like, if you’ve been doing 50 sit-ups a day and wondering why your abs don’t exist yet, it’s time to rethink your core routine. All of the following moves target different sections of your abs, so do each one for 45 seconds and repeat the circuit 2-3 times, or just like, until your abs feel like they’re literally on fire.
1. Entire Core: Bodyweight Plank
Regular bodyweight planks get a lot of hate because they look pretty easy, but if you feel that way 45 seconds in, your form is probably wrong. When done right, planks activate your entire core from top to bottom, so you need to make sure you’re doing it correctly if you want to feel the burn in the right places. Start on your hands or your forearms with your elbows below your shoulders and your arms parallel to your body. Make sure you feel like you’re pulling your belly button in toward your spine and activating your back muscles under your armpits. Your spine should be straight, but make sure your hips aren’t sagging downward and your butt isn’t lifting upwards. Your back should be straight enough for someone to balance a glass of wine on top of it. I wouldn’t recommend trying it, though.
2. Lower Abs: Lying Leg Raises
Leg raises are ideal for your lower abs. If you’re not sure what that means, here’s five seconds of science for you: you have your
first cousins, then you have your second cousins transverse abdominus, your rectus abdominus, and your external obliques. Those muscles make up your core, and leg raises tone the bottom half of them, which people tend to neglect. Lying flat on your back with your legs straight out in front of you, keep your feet touching while you slowly lift your legs up to the ceiling until your butt is slightly off the floor. Then, lower them back down until they’re a few inches off the floor. Do as many reps as you can, and remember to breathe in between the lifts.
3. Obliques: Bicycle Crunches
Bicycle crunches target your oblique muscles, which are the sides of your abs that pop out when you’re wearing a crop top. Basically, your stomach will look toned as fuck if you do enough of these. Lie on the floor with your hands behind your head and reach your right leg out as far as possible while crunching your left elbow to your right knee. You should feel like you’re twisting through your core, so the goal is really to get your shoulder off the ground as close to the knee as possible. Alternate from right to left, starting off SLOWLY and getting faster toward the end. But not super fast, otherwise you’re just using momentum and not your abs and this move will do nothing for you.
4. All Over Core Strength: Opposite Arm & Leg Extensions
You can do crunches and oblique bends all day long, but in order to tone the deeper muscles in your core, you need to do some stability work. Opposite arm and leg extensions might not feel like you’re working your abs at first, but with the right amount of control and balance, you’ll gain a ton of core strength, which will help all the other ab exercises seem a lot easier. Start on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Then, engage your core while extending your left arm out in front of you and reaching your right leg behind you until both are parallel to the floor. Slowly bring them back to center and do the same to the other side. This move should be done slower than the rest, so don’t worry if you only get a few reps in 45 seconds.
5. Obliques, Upper & Lower Abs: Scissor Kicks
Scissor kicks are named appropriately considering the fact that you’ll probably want to stab yourself with a pair of scissors once you start doing these. With that being said, the pain is worth it because this move targets your obliques, your upper abs, and your lower abs at the same time. Start lying on your back, similar to your leg lifts position. But this time, alternate kicking each leg out in front of you, keeping your legs off the ground the entire time. Keep your core engaged and your back on the ground the entire time as you kick your feet like a 6-year-old at her first swimming lesson. You’ll feel the burn pretty fast, but try not to let your feet hit the ground so you can really burn out the muscle. Oh, and heads up: simple instincts like sneezing and laughing are gonna hurt like a bitch tomorrow. I mean, there’s a reason you’ve never seen Jillian Michaels crack a smile.