It doesn’t matter whether you already have abs or are looking to sculpt your own four-pack, six-pack or eight-pack - one of the big questions regarding abs is how often you need to be training them.
The quick answer is daily. Whether you have abs or not, abs require constant maintenance and discipline - both in your diet and your workout routine.
In other words, it requires adopting a certain lifestyle for the long term.
And the good thing about abs is that they can be trained daily to a reasonable intensity without requiring several days’ rest to recover.
Everyone has abs. After all, the abdominis rectus is just another muscle, like your biceps or quadriceps.
The problem with abs? They are easily covered up by layers of body fat. And to make matters worse, the stomach area is often the first place your body will store excess fat.
So, with that said, achieving abs or maintaining abs is a matter of your calorie intake, the intensity and frequency of your workouts, and your desire to remain disciplined on a daily basis.
How To Workout Abs?
If you’re looking to achieve a solid-looking set of abs, you should workout abs daily or as much as possible within the week.
While this sounds intense, abs do not actually require that much training in terms of the daily amount of time you put into them. This is because the abs are relatively small muscles that can appear quite quickly if your body fat is already low.
For how to workout abs, it’s up to you - whether that’s fifteen minutes a day or thirty minutes a day. Both are adequate as long as the workout itself challenges you!
How Many Sets And Reps Should I Do For Abs?
You can workout abs with reps and sets, or with timed sets.
For reps and sets, an example would be 3 to 5 sets of 8 to 15 reps for one exercise - with a minute’s rest in between each set - before repeating the same amount for your next exercise.
Timed sets work by doing as many reps as you can within a set time, followed by a timed rest, then repeating. For example, you can perform reps for any ab exercise for 45 seconds, rest for 15 seconds, then repeat with either the same exercise or a different one.
If you were to do this for 10 minutes, that would mean a total of 10 exercises.
This is a particularly good way to workout abs as the small amount of rest between each set will increase your heart rate, meaning more calories being burned.
What Is The Most Effective Ab Exercise?
The answer to this question is simple: the most effective ab exercise is the one that challenges you.
In other words, if the exercise is too easy, it’s time to move on to another exercise, or make the easy exercise more difficult by increasing the intensity, adding weight or holding each rep for a few seconds.
Beginner ab exercises include crunches, sit ups, reverse crunches, planks, boat holds, hollow body holds, bicycle crunches, bird dogs and so on.
Intermediate ab exercises include flutter kicks, lying leg raises, in and outs, Russian twists, chair sit ups, high knee taps, hanging knee/leg raises, windshield wipers and so forth.
And advanced ab exercises include hanging oblique raises, hanging around the worlds, toes to bar, l-sits, ab wheel rollouts, ring rollouts and dragon flags.
Overall, it all comes down to finding your level and the exercises that challenge you for the most effective ab workout.
What Equipment Do You Need To Get Abs?
You achieve abs without using equipment, but there are great tools out there that will help you along your way.
Any exercise that is performed with extra weight is going to make it more difficult, with increased results. For that reason, dumbbells and weight plates are great examples of equipment that can supplement your ab workouts.
Another example of this is ankle weights, which will make exercises such as leg raises, flutter kicks and windshield wipers more challenging.
Exercise balls are also useful workout tools that can take your ab workouts to the next level.
The decreased stability they offer - for exercises such as planks, single-leg crunches and reverse crunches - will force your ab muscles to work twice as hard, meaning a greater burn and faster results.
If the ab wheel rollout is an exercise you want to try, you will need to purchase an ab wheel. The good news is that they are not that expensive.
Other ab equipment includes resistance bands, medicine balls and, of course, a gym mat or yoga mat.
What Should I Eat For Abs?
As abs require a low body fat percentage to be visible, it goes without saying that you need to maintain a healthy, clean diet.
This means saying no to junk food, unhealthy snacks, soft drinks and desserts. These foods are high in fat and sugar, which will hinder your progress in achieving great-looking abs.
And the old adage that you can’t out-train a bad diet applies for abs more than it does for any other muscle.
Simply replace these foods with more protein and more vegetables. You can still treat yourself to a dessert or snack, but limit this to once or twice a week to stay on the safe side.
Getting abs does not mean you have to starve yourself!
At What Body Fat Are Abs Visible?
As a general rule, abs become visible at 15% body fat. At this percentage, you will see your abs, but they won’t be that defined. However, the lower you can decrease your body fat through exercise and dieting, the more your abs will pop out.
The key to losing body fat is to enter and maintain a calorie deficit. In layman’s terms, this means burning more calories than the calories you eat on a daily basis.
This process can also be accelerated through cardio and high-intensity interval training. And a good way to do this is to choose an exercise that you love doing the most, whether it’s running, cycling, swimming or basketball.
High-intensity interval training, or HIIT for short, is more effective in that it burns more calories in a shorter amount of time.
As for calories, there are many helpful tools and apps that you can use to count and manage your daily intake. But if that all sounds too finicky or time-consuming, you can monitor and adjust your calories by checking your weight each week.
If your weight has increased by a few pounds, you are in a calorie surplus and you can reduce the size of your food portions. If your weight hasn’t changed, you are in calorie maintenance. And if you have lost weight, you are in a calorie deficit - the sweet spot for achieving abs.
The bottom line for achieving abs is to maintain a good lifestyle of clean eating and frequent exercise.
To summarise, here are a key few points to remember:
- Train your abs daily.
- 10 to 30 minutes of ab exercise is enough - just make sure to challenge yourself.
- The best ab exercises are the ones that challenge you.
- Workout equipment is not necessary but will help you to build bigger, stronger abs.
- Avoid junk food; eat as healthily as possible.
- Lower your body fat percentage by staying in a calorie deficit.
- Use cardio or HIIT as a tool to further reduce your body fat.