A flat, well-toned abdomen with defined muscles - that's what many people want. But how do you get there? Simply train the best abdominal workout every day? Unfortunately, it's not that simple. The myth is unfortunately still common that you can work your way to a six-pack or even an eight-pack with the wildest abdominal workouts or 100 sit-ups every day. It is forgotten that the trained abdominal muscles only become visible when the body fat in this area is particularly low. "Abs are made in the kitchen" therefore has some truth to it. However, the combination of the two pays off.
Step 1: Reduce your body fat and train basic exercises
Isolated abdominal workouts only bring something when the muscles have already been trained globally and the body fat is low enough via the right diet. If you pull the skin folds on the abdomen and on the side next to the ribs as well as on the hips with two fingers, the fold should not be more than ½ finger thick. The more small wrinkles of skin are formed when sitting on the abdomen, the lower the amount of fat there. However, if there are only 1 to 2 "rolls", then there is still too much fat around the middle of the body to have visible abdominal muscles. Countless abdominal workouts won't help either.
The breakfast and carbohydrate management are other factors that play a role here. So, with all these tools, the first thing that should be reduced is the abdominal crease, that is, the body fat around the abdomen.
In parallel, the body fat reduction is supported by global workouts. This means one should use exercises that predominantly work large muscle groups holistically and thus have a more efficient effect on body fat reduction and muscle building than isolated abdominal exercises:
Deep squats, deadlifts, dips, pull-ups, push-ups, lunges and bench presses in full range of motion have a very global effect muscularly and also on the nervous system, and in these basic exercises the abdominal muscles are always automatically strongly involved, even if they are not always consciously felt by “burning out” as in isolated exercises!
So, the rule is: basic exercises and basics first! More about this, by the way, in the article "body fat reduction".
The abdominal muscles of women vs. the abdominal muscles of men
A six-pack or eight-pack in women, as it is known in competitive sports, is normally unrealistic for women, unless it is helped with hormonal means, which are not recommended from a health perspective. There are some exceptions, depending on genetics, the body's own hormone production and the start with competitive sports at a young age, in which women get an extreme six-pack without unnatural aids. However, this is not the case in normal circumstances. Visible abs, however, are realistic, but in a more finely defined way, as the anatomy with the narrower waist and wider hips allows. Men, on the other hand, after getting the basics right and training regularly with the right diet and basic global exercises over a long period of time, can also achieve a highly visible eight-pack. Especially in bodybuilding and Crossfit, but also in gymnasts and sprinters, you can see clear abs.
Lower abdominal muscles & upper abdominal muscles — the anatomy
So if you have the above requirements, you should already have a defined abdomen anyway. It should be mentioned that anatomical conditions also play a role. The development of the upper and lower abdominal muscles, the size, and shape of the ribs influence the visibility of the abdominal muscles. While we mostly all have the same muscles, bones and organs, each individual's sourcing is a little different.
Just like some of us have thicker and thicker hair and others have finer hair. Nevertheless, with the above advice and then additional abdominal training, it is possible for everyone to define their abdominal muscles.
The visibility of the upper abdominal muscles, like the lateral ones, depends on how the rib arches are built and how further up the body fat distribution is. The lower abdominal muscles become visible when the body fat is reduced in the middle and on the lower abdomen, here just, especially sleep and stress hormones, play a big role.
The most effective exercises for abs
If all the above conditions are now met and the lower body fat percentage has been achieved through proper nutrition and muscle building with global basic exercises, additional isolated work can be done to still grind the abdominal muscles, so to speak.
For an abdominal workout, one thing is primarily important: the muscular control and quality of the exercise have priority.
A constant problem when training the abdominal muscles is that beginners in particular primarily use and feel the neck. Especially in sit-ups, the chin is unconsciously pulled out instead of activating the abdominal muscles. By the way, the basic exercises that strengthen the abdominal muscles in their entirety also play a role here, which again speaks for not starting directly with isolated abdominal workouts.
It is therefore advisable to first find out with which activations you can really target the abdominal muscles and how many repetitions you can do with this quality. Almost anyone can do 50 sit-ups with the neck up, but that won't grow your abs or do your well-being any favors. It often helps to support your head with your hands or simply to consciously tense your abdominal muscles before the first repetition.
Abs Workout for staying at home
Basically, it actually makes sense to always integrate one to three abdominal exercises in the lower body workout (leg workout). They make sense there because they involve the hip flexor and can also provide balance as a counterpart to the lower back.
However, if you want to add in a little abdominal workout, you could do that briefly in the evening, for example, independently of the other workouts. The following workout is well suited as it involves the lower abdominal muscles, the lateral, and also the upper abdominal muscles:
A1 Garhammer Raise
8-10 repetitions then directly without pause to A2:
A2 Crunches - arms outstretched - with dumbbell if necessary.
12-15 repetitions then 60-120s rest and back to A1, including 4 reps:
B1 jackknife, legs bent
10-12 repetitions then directly to B2 without rest:
B2 Plank Body Saw
30s long then 60-120s rest and back to B1, including 3-4 runs:
C1 Side Plank
30-60s per side 30s rest then to C2:
C2 Lying Knee to Elbow
As many reps as are possible without feeling the neck, then 60s rest and return to C1, 3 passes of which.