Medically reviewed and approved by Nataniel Josué MD.
How do I make my abs look more defined? You’re asking because you want a ripped and defined stomach, a spectacular six-pack. I’ve been there and done that, so I’m going to give you the best nutrition and training tips to make sure you get that six-pack once and for all.
After more than 20 years of training, this is what I know:
If you want to define your abdomen, it is best to combine weight training with cardio and about 20 minutes of abdominal exercises three times a week. Also, drink 2 to 3 liters of water daily, and follow a low-carb and low-fat diet.
How long does it take to get more defined abs?
It takes approximately six months time to start noticing a defined abdomen, if you follow a nutritious diet with a deficit of about 500 calories per day. This level of effectiveness also means you need to train with weights, do aerobic exercises, and work the abdominals three times a week.
How frequently should I train abs?
The ideal frequency is 3 to 4 times per week, and never more than 25 minutes per workout. Anything more intense than that frequency could be counterproductive. The important thing is to take advantage of every minute of the abdominal workout, without cheating, to see optimal results.
What should I eat to get defined abs?
To achieve a defined abdomen, you need to have a balanced diet based on natural foods like vegetables, meat, fish, and healthy fats. If we have excess body fat, we must create a deficit of around 500 calories per day, accompanied by weight training, cardio, and an abdominal workout routine.
How to get super defined abs. 13 tips
I have already explained several fundamental steps toward having a defined core. Now, I will detail how I got a toned abdomen. To achieve it, I recommend you:
Drink 500 to 600 ml of water on an empty stomach
This step is the first thing I want you to do in the morning when you get up. Drink this amount of water, no matter what, and do it even before you get into the shower.
The reason for is because we wake up essentially dehydrated. During the night, we lose water through sweat or urine that our body stores and releases.
I repeat, drink 500 to 600 milliliters of water when you first wake up, before you do anything else. Making this a habit early in your day will help you continue it throughout the day. Water is essential, because, if we don’t have it, any other training and even nutritional advice will be compromised.
Divide the portions properly on your plate
If you follow this advice, you will see nutrition as something much more practical. I want you to visualize your plate as if it were a clock. You have to essentially draw two times on your plate: 9:00 and 4:00.
When you draw this picture, you will see that there are three servings. Put the different macronutrients you need in each portion.
- Put your vegetables in the most extensive portion, like lettuce, broccoli, bell pepper, etc.
- Fill the second large portion with the proteins you will eat. Even if you are a vegan, include the protein you usually eat.
- It would be best to put the starchy carbohydrates (rice, potato, pasta, etc.) in the smallest portion.
When you divide the portions this way, the nutrition becomes simple, and you eat more than the appropriate amount. Also, this way, you will not need to count calories.
Give yourself a healthy treat
If you were expecting a secret trick, here it is. Of course, it’s essential to eat healthy foods that will make you enjoy the process of defining your abdomen.
When you do something out of obligation or unnaturally, you give up when you slip up or take a break.
You have to try to make the process of getting the six-pack something you enjoy. I won’t tell you that the best way to get it is by eating ice cream and candy.
For an alternative, add a skimmed yogurt, or make yourself some pancakes with maple syrup. In short, something that takes away the urge to give up your diet completely.
Find the ideal training sequence
The sequence of the movements you perform is in fact more important than the exercises themselves. It may surprise you, but I want to show you how to train correctly.
Whenever you do abdominal exercises, focus on how your body is moving. If you don’t focus on the part you want to work on, you will be doing basically the same exercises in different ways.
When I focus on what I am moving, I’m paying attention to either the top or bottom of each exercise. Don’t swing, don’t cheat, and concentrate on the muscle.
- I recommend that you always start with the exercises that require you to lift your legs in your abdominal training. These require the most effort and, if we don’t have enough strength to do these later in the workout, we will cheat.
- When you finish the exercises that require lifting your legs, you can do the ones that lift your upper body.
Do not count repetitions
I don’t like to count the repetitions in my abdominal routine at all. What I always recommend is to prioritize quality over quantity.
I always avoid doing an endless amount of repetitions executed in a speedy way. Instead, do each repetition slowly and focus on contracting and working the abdominal muscle.
By training this way, each contraction will be top quality, and you will be able to do much fewer reps than you usually do. This trick, combined with a good diet, is essential to get the six-pack showing.
Raise your pelvis
If you want quality in your training, you must know how to take advantage of each abdominal contraction. For example, it is essential to move your pelvis in space if you are doing a leg lift.
If you don’t do that, you will not be flexing your spine, and you will not be working your abdominal muscles completely.
Squeeze your abductors
Another handy tip for engaging all the muscle fibers in the lower core is to contract the abductors when the movement allows for it.
To achieve this, you can squeeze your knees or cross your feet, making it easier to contract the abductor.
By tightening these muscles, you will have additional stability and the pelvis will have more leverage, allowing the muscle fibers to work better.
When you start doing this trick, you will feel the quality of each repetition.
Take off the shoulder blades from the floor
When doing any exercise that involves lifting the trunk, do not bend the neck. Just as lifting the pelvis is fundamental in the lower abdominal movements, lifting the shoulder blades is essential in the upper body’s lifting movements.
Another trick that will help you perform the crunches well is to draw an imaginary, horizontal line under your rib cage. When you focus on bending your body over that line, you will feel a significant contraction.
Drink cinnamon, red bell pepper, and green tea
This is a piece of advice that very few people do, but that works for me. Since I incorporated these three foods into my diet, my body’s fat-burning has accelerated a little bit more. When you eat these three foods separately, they have benefits. But, combined is where they make a big difference.
I have to tell you that what I use most is cinnamon. I add it to any sweet dish, like my morning oatmeal or my pancakes. I’m sorry, it’s my weakness.
You might be interested in “What things can make you lose weight?”
Taking a pinch of ginger in my daily diet also has a positive impact on defining my abs. This is a small step that, combined with the others, can significantly benefit your body.
Ginger helps our body burn fat by decreasing its sensitivity to insulin. It also is an extraordinary aid for training because it helps reduce muscle pain. Remember, the road to the six-pack is not easy.
Don’t push out your stomach
That is critical advice, too: you must breathe properly through every repetition. For example, in a regular crunch, you should exhale at the top of the movement without pushing out your stomach.
Many people think that exhaling is pushing the stomach, but no, you should do just the opposite. When you breathe out, you should squeeze your belly and push your stomach down.
When you do this, you activate the transverse abdomen. If you don’t do this, when you define your abs, it may appear that you have a swollen belly.
Train to achieve symmetry
Another very frustrating thing is that you may not like the shape your core has when you start to mark the abdominal muscles. To have symmetry in your midline, you have to pay attention to the serratus and obliques.
When you have more pronounced oblique and serratus muscles, your abdomen will look much more defined. You will have an imposing appearance, and your six-pack will look much more appealing.
Prioritize the most important steps
To make sure you prioritize what is most important to get your abs showing, I recommend drawing a pyramid. In this pyramid, the base (or the most foundational thing) is always nutrition, then strength training, then abdomen training, and then cardio.
Many people believe that, to define the abdomen, the fundamental thing is cardio, but this is not the case. Remember what the great Arnold Schwarzenegger said: “You get ripped abs on the plate.”
You may be interested in “How can I get a defined body? 10 Essential tips.”
What are the best exercises for abs?
According to a study conducted by Dr. Peter Francis for the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the three best exercises for defining the abdominal area are: the Captain’s Chair, bicycles, and abs with exercise ball; you don’t need much additional equipment.
Here are the movements that I incorporate into my routine. Remember, three or four exercises for about 15 or 20 minutes is enough.
You perform this exercise on a setup that is found in every gym: the Roman chair. This device is perhaps the simplest in the gym, made of just two armrests and a backrest. The execution of this exercise is very straightforward.
- Position yourself on the Roman chair by placing your arms on the armrests and your back well-supported on the backrest.
- Bend your knees slightly, and bring them to waist level or a little higher.
- Move your legs in a controlled way and without swinging.
- Return to the initial position without dropping your legs.
The abdominal bike is a straightforward exercise and, at the same time, one of those that should not be missing in your abdominal routine. Now I’ll show you how to do this exercise:
- Lie down on a mat with your back and arms on the floor.
- Lift your legs with your knees bent until they’re at a 90-degree angle from the ground.
- From this position, move one leg forward, but do not let it lean on the floor.
- Return to the initial position, and alternate this movement with both legs.
Ab exercise with a Gym Ball
If you have never used a gym ball, and/or suffer from back pain, I recommend consulting your gym coach before doing this exercise. There are many variations of this exercise, but I will tell you the one I practice, and it works very well. In this version, you exercise the rectus abdominis muscle.
- Rest your back on the gym ball, always looking for a stable posture.
- Place your feet in line with your shoulders, and your knees bent at 90 degrees.
- Make sure that the shoulder blades are suspended in the air.
- From there, lift your trunk and contract the whole area of the rectus abdominis.
- Return slowly to the initial position.
Planks are one of the best exercises to work our core and rectus abdominis. If you want to do it correctly, it is imperative to have the whole area in tension during the entire exercise.
- Place yourself face down on a mat supported by your forearms and the tips of your feet.
- For correct performance, you should never arch your back. Keep it flat.
- During the duration of the exercise, also tighten the abdominal area and the buttocks.
- Hold this position for 30 to 45 seconds.
The abdominal crunch is the best core exercise that everybody practices, bar none. It is a basic yet useful movement if you perform it correctly.
- Lie down on your back with your hands clasped behind your head, or folded on your chest.
- Lean your feet at the height of your shoulders, and your knees slightly bent.
- Raise the upper body by lifting the shoulder blades from the ground.
- Do the repetitions slowly and with a strict technique, without pulling or rocking.
Abs workout routine for men
Now I’m going to show you the abdominal exercise chart that worked for me. Never do it more than four days a week; I recommend that you do this three times a week. For example, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; or Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
Abdominal Workout Routine
|Captain’s Chair||3×25 approx.|
|Gym Ball abs||3×25 approx.|
I hope these tips which worked for me also work for you. I’ll give you a final reminder:
- Take care of your nutrition.
- Do strength exercises (moderately).
- Do an abdominal routine three days a week.
- Finally, do the aerobic exercise three times a week for at least half an hour each session.
I hope that when you do all these actions consistently, you’ll be able to enjoy that six-pack. You’ll have earned it! I know I felt on top of the world when I got mine.