Whether looking up pictures on Instagram or just reading about the latest fitness trends, there’s just something about a defined, ripped set of rock hard abs. And no, not the skinny marathon runner “abs” someone gets just because they are deathly skinny.
The perfect abs you get from hard work and determination. You may have tried for these kinds of abs in the past and come up short. Yes, it does take work and determination, but you, yes you, can have the beach body sexy abs of any model (or social media “model”).
You just need some help and inspiration.
We’ve got both for you right here!
Misconceptions and What You Need to Know Ahead of Time
There’s a reason not everyone has rock hard abs. These are probably the hardest muscles to really sculpt.
At least for the average individual. Yes, you can build up a strong chest and tree-trunk arms. The thing about most other muscle groups though is that while diet is important unless you’re going for the completely ripped, vein popping, complete muscle outline look, you can get by without the strictest of diet.
That isn’t the case at all with obtaining v cut abs.
Without a strict diet, you’ll never truly obtain the abs you want. So if you’re not dedicated to following through on a specific diet plan, the rock hard abs look isn’t for you. Thankfully, once you fall into the correct diet routine, it is easy to stick with it (and no, you don’t need to starve yourself, although an abs-revealing diet is a different article).
Probably one of the biggest misconceptions regarding abs is you need to put in a long workout to grow your abs.
That is absolutely false.
If you’re talking to someone and they say they put in 30 minutes of ab work, it’s because they either don’t know what they’re doing, they spend two-thirds of the time sitting around, or it is just overkill. Your abs are relatively small muscles when compared to the rest of your body and it doesn’t take much to blast and burn the muscle fibers. 10 minutes is more than enough time for a great ab workout.
The next misconception is you shouldn’t work your abs every day. After all, you shouldn’t train your legs or arms every day, so you need several days off between ab workouts. While it is true you shouldn’t hit the same major muscle groups two days in a row, your abs are a bit different. These muscles stabilize your entire core.
It helps keep you erect when standing and assists in just about everything you do. In reality, you already work your abs in some shape or form every day, so you can’t really “take a day off.” With that in mind, you really should try to hit your abs at least five days a week. Thankfully, it’s only about 10 minutes (max), so it’s not much time at all.
Lastly, you’re not going to shrink your stomach or waist with an ab workout. Every single workout video that has ever told you this is blatantly lying and, if anyone ever tells you the ab workout with help you cut pant sizes or anything of this nature, avoid taking workout advice from them ever again. Because here’s the thing. An ab workout burns very little in way of calories.
The muscles are small and don’t require much energy, so you’d probably burn more calories in five minutes of plyometric training than in 20 minutes of ab workouts. Also, you can’t target burn fat. Workout your abs doesn’t target the fat in your abs. Your body stores energy in different locations. When it burns calories it takes energy from these locations.
Everyone is a bit different, but because most people have fat storage in their stomach this is the first area to shrink down.
Fat Abs A Problem?
Have you ever seen the people (typically it’s a bigger issue with men) who have abs, but for whatever reason the abs look bloated?
As if they grew abs on top of a beer belly? It looks rather odd, doesn’t it?
Obviously, they are not developing abs over fat, but it also isn’t that great of a look. With a shirt on it just looks like fat, and it is a look you most likely would like to avoid (why put in all of that work when the abs are just going to make you look fat anyway).
For starters, this usually is not from anabolic steroids. Some might instantly point to the person with the “fat abs” and say matter-of-fact that the person obviously is doing steroids. This may be a culprit, chances are it is actually from training the abs in an improper fashion.
The biggest cause behind these fat abs is how you breathe during an ab workout.
During a normal lift, you’ll likely blow out as you push the weight away from you. You want to avoid doing this with your ab workout.
Let’s say you’re doing a sit-up and you exhale out every time you crunch. This elongates your stomach, stretching it out. By doing this, you’re actually training your stomach to stretch out. Over time, this stretched out stomach will give you the appearance of bloated abs. When doing abs, you don’t need to time your breathing with every move or crunch. Think of it like walking. You don’t breathe out every time you take a left step.
Maintain controlled breathing and don’t over emphasize any out breathing.
As long as you do this, you’ll avoid the “fat” abs.
When To Workout Abs?
As we mentioned earlier, you can work out your abs every day.
If you miss a day here or there it’s not a big deal, but try to shoot for at least five times a week, eight to 10 minutes a day. It’s also good to switch and rotate the moves you perform so the workout doesn’t become stale.
Now, with your ab workout, there’s no need to shoot for a number. In fact, doing 30 (or any other number) of a specific ab exercise every day isn’t going to do much good in the long run.
Because while 30 crunches on day 1 are difficult, 30 crunches on day 45 aren’t. Instead, each move should be timed. so, for your rock hard abs, shoot for 45 seconds of each exercise and 15 seconds of rest. Do 10 moves and that gives you our killer 10-minute ab workout.
One last thing before getting into the ab workout. There are some workout videos you may have seen where those performing the moves try to go as fast as humanly possible. Take the mountain climber move, for example (we’ll explain the move later). You’ll see people go extremely fast, almost to the point of being a blur.
The problem with just aiming for speed is you turn it into more of a cardio move than an ab workout.
With weight lifting, going slow on a lift works your muscle fibers more, breaks the muscle fibers down and allows you to grow larger muscles than just pumping out fast reps. The same is true with your abs. While you don’t need to go in slow motion, focus more on the contraction and the “crunch” then speed.
You want your abs to be on fire at the end of 10 minutes, not just tired.
The Best Core Exercises
The lower abs are one area that isn’t worked as much as the other ab muscle groups, so we’ll cover a few moves here.
Lay on your back with your legs extended out. Lift both feet slightly off the ground. Move one leg up so the heel is at the height of the other foot’s toe, then bring it down and repeat the process with the other foot.
This puts all the strain on your lower abs. The lower your feet are to the ground the more strain and the harder you work your abs.
Eventually, if this move becomes too easy for you, consider picking up ankle weights.
This is a great move for working the obliques.
Put both hands into a fist, with one hand over top the over. Sit in a sit-up position and lean back about 45 degrees. While keeping your back straight, twist to your left side, allowing your hands to come in contact with the ground, then immediately swing over to the other side. Continue doing this for the 45 seconds.
There are a few ways to make this more difficult. First, if you have a medicine ball, hold onto the medicine ball instead of using just your hands. You can also use a light dumbbell if you don’t have a ball. Next, left your feet off the ground.
This puts all of the weight and strain directly onto your core.
The great thing about the mountain climber is it works most of your abs and there are all sorts of variations you can take advantage of.
In the mountain climber move, set yourself into an elevated push-up position (no bend in your elbows). With the standard mountain climber, take you right leg and drive it forward towards your right shoulder, then bring it back and repeat with your left leg. Remember, you don’t need to go at a blazing speed here.
Focus on the crunch.
The first variation is when you bring your right knee up, take your right elbow and squeeze it towards the knee. This adds in more oblique work (most of the variations add in oblique work). This also forces the rest of your core to tighten in order to stabilize your body. Repeat with your left side.
A second variation is, instead of driving your right leg to your right shoulder, drive it towards your left shoulder and your left leg towards your right shoulder.
This adds more of a crunch than the traditional mountain climber.
This is a great move but it’s also one most people do incorrectly.
With it, you lay on your back and lift your legs up so your heels are pointed towards the ceiling. With your back straight, let both legs fall to the right side, making sure your feet don’t touch the floor. Now, bring them back to center. However, don’t use your leg muscles. Instead, squeeze your core. Your core muscles will correct your leg movement and pull the legs back.
It is essential you use your core, otherwise, you really aren’t working your abs at all. It turns into a rather lame outer thigh workout.
Start in a plank position (push-up position but your forearms are on the ground).
However, we’re not doing any planks. A straight forward plank wears out your core but it doesn’t really strengthen it all that much. There is so much more you can do with that plank time. Case in point, the spider crawl.
Or you can call it a Spider-Man or Spider-Woman crawl. In the plank position, take your right leg and bring it up so your knee is close to your right elbow but your foot is flat on the ground (picture Spider-Man climbing up a building from one of his movies).
Then return to start and repeat with your other leg. This is a great total ab and oblique workout.
Instead of the traditional crunch, add in the bicycle kick to it so you’re working both your upper and lower abs (the upper abs are already easy enough to work, so it is important to bring in your lower abs when you can).
Position your hands behind your head, but do not pull on the neck. Your hands are here to simply add support and stabilize your neck. Lift your legs up so it looks like you’re sitting on a chair with the back as the floor. Now, push your right leg out so it is parallel with the floor and your left knee back towards you. At the same time, crunch to the side so your right elbow touches your left knee. Don’t cheat or come up short. Make sure it touches. Repeat with the other side until your 45 seconds are up.
Lift your legs up so it looks like you’re sitting on a chair with the back as the floor. Now, push your right leg out so it is parallel with the floor and your left knee back towards you. At the same time, crunch to the side so your right elbow touches your left knee. Don’t cheat or come up short.
Make sure it touches. Repeat with the other side until your 45 seconds are up.
Well, that is some of the best ab exercises you can do. There are plenty of other options and variations out there, none of which require added weight or equipment.
Do a 10-minute workout every day (if you can), eat right and follow through with the rest of your workouts. In no time you’ll begin seeing those toned, ripped abs.