The perfect abs workout - for home and gym

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.

For body fat reduction on the abdomen is primarily a stable blood sugar level, your intestinal health, good sleep and healthy stress management


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.


Ines Schulz
Ines Maria Schulz, geboren am 01.12.1992 in Basel, Schweiz hat auch dort den Master Of Education in Biologie und WAH abgeschlossen, womit sie den Grundstein für das Verständnis von Physiologie und Anatomie sowie Ernährungslehre gesetzt hat. Zudem ist sie ausgebildete Sportlehrerin für die Grundschule. Seit zwei Jahren ist sie Coach bei MTM Personal Training, dem erfolgreichsten Personal Training Studio in Berlin. Dort unterstützt sie täglich Kunden, die ihr maximales Potential bezüglich mentaler und physischer Gesundheit und ihrer Leistungsfähigkeit ausschöpfen möchten. In Kooperation mit Ärzten wie Dr. Dominik Nischwitz und einem Labor für Darmgesundheit sowie dem ständigen Austausch im Team kann sie ihre Kunden optimal über Training, Ernährung, Mikronährstoffe und Lifestyle beraten. Für MTM hat sie bereits ein Frühstücksbuch und einen grossen Teil eines Lifestyle Booklets verfasst. Zudem schreibt sie wöchentlich den Newsletter, in dem Ernährungstipps und von ihr kreierte Rezepte veröffentlicht werden. Ines hat bei verschiedensten erfolgreichen Coaches und Fachpersonen Seminare und Zertifikate absolviert und erweitert stetig ihre Kompetenz. Für Supz Nutrition ist die junge Trainerin seit Januar 2019 mit dem Verfassen von Blogartikeln aktiv.

Häufig gestellte Fragen

What are crunches?
Crunches are an abdominal exercise where you lie on your back with your legs bent and use your abdominal muscles to lift your upper body. This involves rolling the centre of the body and "squeezing" the abdominal muscles. There are many variations of crunches.
How do you get a six-pack other than by abdominal training?
The visibility of a six-pack is primarily dependent on the percentage of body fat in the middle of the body. Nutrition therefore plays a decisive role: if you eat in such a way that your blood sugar is constantly stable, you can lose the fat pads on your hips, ribs, and stomach so that your abdominal muscles become visible.
What are planks, and what is the minimum time you should do them?
The Plank is a full-body exercise in which one holds the position parallel to the floor, with the stomach down on the feet and the forearms supported. The body should act like a flat board above the floor, which requires complete body tension and activation of the abdominal muscles. The elbows should always be placed directly under the shoulders for a stable posture. Being able to hold 60s Plank is a good foundation for general physical fitness. It is not necessary to do it longer, but you can make the exercise more difficult by placing a weight plate on your back.
What are sit-ups, and how do they work?
Sit-ups are similar to crunches; you lie on your back and roll your abdomen by tensing the abdominal muscles - but here you pull your upper body much higher, so that in the upper position your middle and lower back are also completely off the floor. It is significant not to pull up with the neck, the exercise is demanding, and it helps to support the neck with the hands. If the abs are not yet strong enough for this, the focus should be on crunches first.
Which muscles are also trained during planks?
Planks work not only the abdominal muscles but also the muscles between the shoulder blades, at the side of the rib (serratus), the shoulders and the pelvic muscles. The rest of the body (arms, legs, lower back, buttocks) must also stabilize.
The Abs Muscle Belt - does it help?
The abdominal belt is nonsense and a waste of money. Abdominal muscles must be actively trained (and not controlled by others as with the belt) and above all a diet that reduces body fat is crucial for visible abdominal muscles.
How many times a week should you exercise your abs?
In the best case, the abdominal muscles are trained along with the body anyway: With all basic exercises (squats, pull-ups, dips, deadlifts) the abdominal muscles are always trained automatically. You can train them isolated on the lower body training days, i.e., 2-3 per week or as an additional small ab workout several times a week. The abdominal muscles do not need as much regeneration as the lower back.

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