Stop doing crunches: How to actually get abs

April 3, 2016
how to get abs compound exercises

While I’m no personal trainer, I’ve done enough research and talked to enough people to know that you are not going to get abs from doing crunches alone. Despite hundreds of articles which state that you cannot spot reduce, women (and men) continue to an unnecessary amount of ab exercises in the quest for perfect abs. I’m here to tell you how to actually get abs. 

Before I delve into this, let me once again say that you CANNOT spot reduce, and as Adam Bornstein from Born Fitness says, “myths like “crunches shrink your waist” have proven to be inaccurate. I’m reiterating this again because it is important for you to understand this. It took me a long time to understand this because there was always an underlying glimmer of hope that if I just did a bunch of ab exercises, I would get abs.

So How Can We Get Abs and a Leaner Waist?

While genetics do play a part, the following are the main things you need to focus on to get a leaner waist and actually see your abs.

1. Reduce your bodyfat

You start to see definition at 20-22% bodyfat and your abs will become visible at 15-17% bodyfat. This is really important because while you may be a perfectly fit and healthy person, the abs that know are there, will not come out to play until you are at a certain bodyfat percentage range. It’s a little annoying, I know, and it is one of the reasons that simply ‘having abs’ is not a great goal to have on it’s own.

2. Do compound exercises and lift heavy

What are compound exercises? Compound exercises are exercises that involve more than one muscle group, such as a squat or a deadlift. Compound movements are extremely effective because they help you burn more calories by engaging more muscle groups. This will help you save time at the gym and workout a variety of muscle groups to achieve a balanced look.

Doing a compound exercise, such as a deadlift, and making sure to go as heavy as you safely will help you engage your core and build strength. 

3. Eat the correct macros for your body

Nutrition is key for gaining visible abs, for reasons which kind of go hand in hand with reducing bodyfat. I’ll repeat what I said previously – if you are not at a specific bodyfat percentage range, then you will not see your abs. And the only way to get to that range (and stay there) is to ensure that your nutrition is on point. 

Take a look at my guide on how to count your macros and how to stick to your macros on a night out.

how to get abs compound exercises

4. Work your back 

This one took me longer to learn than the others did. Having a strong back is key to having a strong core. Ladies, don’t be scared to train your back and go heavy. I promise you will not get bulky and that you will actually give the illusion of a smaller and more defined waist by training your back (don’t forget to train your lower back too – back extensions are my favorite exercise for this). 

While it is still important to do exercises that engage and strengthen your core, do them once or twice a week to strengthen your ab muscles. There’s absolutely no need to make yourself blue in the face by doing hundreds of sit ups per day. Focus on the key factors I listed above and you will see the abs you have worked so hard for.

Honestly yours,

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  • Cassie April 6, 2016 at 7:20 pm

    I am really aiming to shed off a little bit of the excess fat on my abs and armpits, so these are so helpful! πŸ™‚

    • Honestly Fitness April 6, 2016 at 7:40 pm

      I’m so glad it’s helpful, Cassie!

  • matilda April 26, 2016 at 5:59 pm

    hey everyone,
    I am currently doing an important research project on healthy recipes eBooks. I have created a survey for this research and I would really appreciate if you can take part in this survey. thankyou

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