A flat, toned stomach with defined muscles – that’s what many people want. But how do you get there? Just do the best abdominal workout every day? Unfortunately it's not that easy. Unfortunately, the myth is still widespread that you can work your way to six-pack abs or even eight-pack abs with the wildest abdominal workouts or 100 sit-ups every day. What is forgotten is that the trained abdominal muscles only become visible if the body fat in this area is particularly low. So “Abs are made in the kitchen” has some truth. However, the combination of both pays off.
Step 1: Reduce body fat and train basic exercises
Isolated abdominal workouts are only effective when the muscles have already been trained globally and the body fat is low enough through proper nutrition. If you pull the skin folds forward with two fingers on the stomach and on the side next to the ribs as well as on the hips, the fold should not be more than ½ finger thick. The more small folds of skin that form on your stomach when you sit, the lower the fat content there. However, if there are only 1 or 2 “rolls”, then there is still too much fat around the middle of the body to have visible abdominal muscles. Countless abdominal workouts don't help either.
The Breakfast and carbohydrate management are other factors that play a role here. All of these tools should first be used to reduce the abdominal fold, i.e. the body fat around the stomach.
At the same time, body fat reduction is supported by global workouts. This means that you should use exercises that predominantly use large muscle groups holistically and therefore have a more efficient effect on reducing body fat and building muscle than isolated abdominal exercises:
Deep squats, deadlifts, dips, pull-ups, push-ups, lunges and bench presses in the full range of motion have a very global effect on the muscles and nervous system, and with these basic exercises the abdominal muscles are always automatically heavily involved, even if you don't always do them consciously as with isolated exercises feel the “burn out”!
So, the following applies: basic exercises and basics first! By the way, more about that in the article Reduce body fat .
Abdominal muscles woman vs. abdominal muscles man
A six-pack or eight-pack in women, as we know it in competitive sports, is usually unrealistic for women unless it is helped with hormonal agents, which are not recommended from a health perspective. There are some exceptions, depending on genetics, the body's own hormone production and starting competitive sports at a young age, in which women can get extreme six-pack abs without unnatural aids. However, this is not normally the case. Visible abdominal muscles, however, are realistic, but in a more finely defined way, as the anatomy allows with the narrower waist and wider hips. Men, on the other hand, can - after the basics are right and they have trained regularly over a longer period of time with the right diet and basic exercises - also achieve a clearly visible eight-pack. You can see clear abdominal muscles especially in bodybuilding and crossfit, but also in gymnasts and sprinters.
Lower Abs & Upper Abs and Anatomy
Anyone who has the above-mentioned requirements should already have a defined stomach anyway. It should be mentioned that anatomical conditions also play a role. The shape of the upper and lower abdominal muscles, the size and shape of the ribs influence the visibility of the abdominal muscles. Although we all have mostly the same muscles, bones and organs, each individual's procurement is a little different.
Just like some of us have thicker and fuller hair and others have finer hair. Nevertheless, with the above advice and then additional abdominal training, it is possible for anyone to define the abdominal muscles.
The visibility of the upper abdominal muscles, like the side muscles, depends on how the costal arches are built and how further up the body fat is distributed. The lower abdominal muscles become visible when the body fat reduces in the middle and lower abdomen; sleep and stress hormones play a major role here.
The most effective exercises for abdominal muscles
If all of the above conditions are met and the lower body fat percentage has been achieved through the right diet and muscle building with global basic exercises, you can also work in a more isolated manner in order to sharpen the abdominal muscles, so to speak.
One thing is primarily important for an abdominal workout: 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. Sit-ups in particular involve unconsciously pulling out the chin instead of activating the abdominal muscles. By the way, the basic exercises that strengthen the abdominal muscles holistically also play a role, which again suggests not starting directly with isolated abdominal workouts.
It is therefore advisable to first find out which activations you can really use to target the abdominal muscles and how many repetitions you can do with this quality. Almost anyone can do 50 neck-up sit-ups, but doing so won't grow your abs or do your well-being any favors. It often helps to support your head with your hands or simply consciously tense your abdominal muscles before the first repetition.
Abdominal workout at home – the perfect home abdominal workout
Basically, it actually makes sense to always integrate one to three abdominal exercises into your lower body training (leg training). These make sense there because they involve the hip flexors and can also provide balance as a counterpoint to the lower back.
However, if you also want to do a little abdominal workout, you could do it in the evening independently of the other training sessions. The following workout is suitable because it involves the lower abdominal muscles, the side muscles and also the upper abdominal muscles:
A1 Cooking Hammer Raise
8-10 reps then directly to A2 without a break:
A2 Crunches – arms stretched out – with dumbbells if necessary
12-15 reps then a 60-120s break and back to A1, including 4 sets:
B1 folding knife, legs bent
10-12 reps then straight to B2 without a break:
B2 Plank Body Saw
30s then 60-120s break and back to B1, including 3-4 passes:
C1 side plank
30-60s per side 30s break then to C2:
C2 Knee to elbow lying
As many repetitions as possible without the neck becoming noticeable, then a 60s break and back to C1, doing 3 sets.