How To Get Abs: 4 Tips To Help You Get A Strong Core

Workouts to help you strengthen your core.

Getting a 6-pack is not rocket science, but it can difficult if you don't have the right tools. In this article we will give you 4 tips to help you build a strong core, the right way.

If you are training your abs effectively and they are not visible, it's because you have a layer of fat. Most people think that by training abs they will be able to burn the fat on their stomach. However, your body doesn't work like that. The concept of "spot reducing", which means targetting fat loss on a specific area of your body by training it, is not possible.

You will have to lose fat and your body will decide where to take that fat from. You will be able to see your abs once you reach a low enough body fat percentage If you look online, you will find that men need to be below 10% and women below 16%. We're all different though, some people store fat differently so you can find men that have a body fat percentage around 14% and still have visible abs. Simply because their bodies store fat in other areas than their abs and unfortunately we don't have a control over that.

When people talk about core they usually mean abs, but there are slight differences between the two:

  • Abs
    • Rectus abdominis: 6-pack
    • Obliques: side abs
  • Core
    • Rectus abdominis: 6-pack
    • Obliques: side abs
    • Transverse abdominis: deep ab muscles around your spine for stability and protection
    • Erector spinae muscles: muscles around the spine used to rotate and straigthen the back
    • Lower back

The core is responsible to help you keep good posture while you're exercising. Core training is doing specific exercises to develop and strengthen these stabilizer muscles. However, most people focus too much on the rectus abdominis/obliques development, but not enough on the entire core. It can create imbalances in the long run, which can increase risks of injuries.

So it's highly recommended that you train your core. A good way to do that would be to try doing more compound exercises (especially standing, such as overhead press, barbell row, front squat...) and bodyweight exercises, which require you to keep your core tight and work on these stabilizer muscles.

"I train my abs everyday" is very common these days. Ab muscles are smaller and recover quicker than others, but like any other muscle if you hit them with the right volume they will require more rest. Especially if you do a lot of standing exercises that require core strength like mentioned earlier.

So instead of doing the exact same ab workout that you do every day, try to train your abs up to 3 times a week with 48 hours of rest in between. A combination of low reps (with added weight if possible) and high reps is recommended to help you get results. Do 6 to 9 sets per body part (rectus abdominis, obliques...) depending on your fitness level.

Here's a workout to help you build your entire core:

It's very common to see people doing hundred of reps when they train abs. But are they contracting their abs properly or they are just doing the movements as fast as possible to get to a specific number of reps?

Next time you're training abs, make sure you activate your core before doing the movement. For example if you're doing a crunch, you first flex core then your torso will get raised. Same thing with hanging leg raise, you flex your abs then you leg get raises not the opposite. Make sure you have that mind-muscle connection, that's how you activate the most muscle fibers not by just rushing the movement.

You could also take a 1 second pause at the top of movement so you're certain you're activating your core effectively.

  • Get leaner, it will help you make your abs more visible.
  • Working out your abs won't make you burn the fat on your stomach, "spot reducing" does not work.
  • Do more compound exercises or bodyweight exercises, they will help you get a strong core.
  • Training your abs and ignoring your entire core can lead to improper form.
  • Let your core recover, train it with the right volume 2-3 times a week.
  • Don't rush the movement when you're training your core, make sure you're activating it.

Don't hesitate to message us on the Gymaholic Training App if you have any questions.

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Creating @gymaholic - Athlete and fitness coach. I help people move, feel and live better.

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