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How to Get Abs: Sculpt That Six-Pack!

Holly Smith

By: Holly Smith, M.D. - Osteopathic Medicine, B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer,

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

how to get abs

Wondering how to get abs? We're not surprised. Chiseled, six-pack abs are the envy of every guy out there!

A strong core is a sign of overall strength and fitness, so it’s no surprise that men with ripped abs are plastered on the fronts of fitness magazines.

Achieving great looking abs is no easy feat.

To get a sculpted midsection, you need to focus on all aspects of health, including strength training, cardiovascular fitness, and healthy eating.

But, it can be done! Keep reading to learn how to get abs — once and for all!

Burn Calories and Shed Fat to Get Great Abs

To sculpt your abs, you need to exercise and work your core muscles, but you also have to lose any fat that you're carrying in your midsection.

This will get you rock hard abs AND make you healthier overall!

Fat in the midsection, also known as visceral fat, can cause a number of health problems (including worsening cardiovascular risk factors). So you've got to start by dropping those extra pounds.

Easier said than done, right? Well, the answer is here: learn how to lose visceral fat and develop the body you want.

The thought used to be that all you needed to do to get great abs was to do countless crunches.

But you can’t spot reduce fat, so only doing crunches, or really any ab exercise, won’t give you that six-pack you’re searching for.

You need to do full-body exercises with a core focus that burn calories so you can help shed the layer of fat covering your abdominal muscles.

This will have you looking great with your shirt off, but more importantly, will improve your fitness and decrease your risk of chronic health problems.

Watch this video to learn how visceral fat differs from subcutaneous fat, what the dangers of elevated levels are, and how you can lose visceral fat and keep it off.

Strength Training is Also Required

Some people think that if you can just lose belly fat, then you will be able to see your six-pack.

You may have heard that “abs are made in the kitchen.”

While there is truth to this, the fact is you will never see your abdominal muscles just by losing fat.

In order to get your abs to “pop,” you have to strength train them just like any other muscle group.

Your ab muscles need a stimulus for growth, just like all of your other muscles.

Exercises like weighted sit-ups and leg lifts can help provide this stimulus for your core.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t incorporate isometric exercises like planks. But you also want to have exercises where you are adding resistance to your core exercises.

By utilizing a combination of strength training and isometric moves three to four times a week, you will be on your way to some amazing abs.

best exercise for men 40+

What Are The 5 Best Muscle Building Exercises For Men 40+?

best exercise for men 40+
The secret to building age-defying muscle in your in 40s, 50s, & 60s is to modify the best muscle building exercises (bench, squats, rows) to make them safe on your joints…

Still Wondering How to Get Abs? Start With Our Top 10 Ab Exercises!

You can choose three or four of these exercises to add to your workout routine three times a week to get the best results.

Like any muscle group, you want to give yourself around 48 hours of recovery between hard workouts.

These exercises will hit your abs from all angles, and will also engage all of the stabilizing core muscles around your spine and low back.

Aim for three sets of each exercise.

1. Ab Wheel Rollouts

Ab wheel rollouts are awesome to strengthen the entire core. It’s basically like taking all of the benefits of a static plank and multiplying them.

  • Start on your knees with your hands grasping the handles of an ab wheel in front of you.
  • Allow the wheel to roll forward and your body to move forward with it into an extended position.
  • Then engage your abs to bring the wheel back in towards your body.
  • Be sure to use your abs and not your upper body to do this move otherwise you won’t be getting the core benefits.
  • Try to complete 8-10 reps.

Get Our Complete Ab Wheel Rollout Video Tutorial and Exercise Guide Here

2. Hanging Leg Raises

While you can’t completely isolate your lower ab muscles, hanging leg raises are a great way to put more emphasis on these muscles.

  • Start by hanging from a pull-up bar.
  • Keep your legs together and raise them up until they are parallel with the floor.
  • Try to keep your upper body as still as possible.
  • If you use any swinging momentum this will defeat the purpose of the exercise.
  • Try to do 8-10 of these while keeping your legs straight.
  • If this is too hard, you can bend your knees to start.

3. Cable Crunches with Rope

This exercise works the upper abs and also is a great way to add resistance to your core workouts.

  • Start in a kneeling position holding the rope of a cable machine in front of you.
  • Keep your arms in a fixed position relative to your head and body.
  • Crunch forward while holding the rope.
  • Then slowly control the movement back up to really feel the burn in the abdominal muscles.
  • Complete 12-15 slow, quality reps.

4. Mountain Climber

We all know that planks are an awesome core workout. Well, mountain climbers are basically the cardio equivalent. You can think of it as a moving plank.

  • Start in a push-up position with your hands under your shoulders.
  • Drive your right knee to your chest and tap your right foot to the floor then quickly move it back to the starting position.
  • Then repeat this on the left.
  • Continue alternating legs back and forth as quickly as you can for 30 seconds.

Avoid mistakes and learn how to do mountain climbers properly with this step-by-step video tutorial.

5. Kettlebell Swing

Kettlebell swings are an amazing way to work your abs and prove that there is so much more to core workout than just crunches. Plus, this will burn some serious calories while strengthening the core.

  • Hinge forward at your hips while holding a kettlebell down in front of you.
  • Bring the kettlebell between your legs, thrust your hips forward, and swing the kettlebell to about shoulder height.
  • Control the movement back down.
  • Repeat 12-15 times.

Get Our Complete Russian Kettlebell Swing Video Tutorial and Exercise Guide Here

6. Dragon Flag

The dragon flag is an intense core workout that really engages your abs. This is a very tough move, so don’t be discouraged if you can only do a few reps at first!

  • Lie on a decline or regular bench and grab the edge of it behind your head.
  • Swing your feet upward until your body is almost vertical while keeping your shoulder blades on the bench.
  • Keep your core tight and your body as straight as possible.
  • Slowly lower your feet under control until they are just above the bench.
  • Lift your legs back up in the air again to complete a rep.
  • Repeat for 8-10 reps.

7. Burpees

This cardio and ab exercise serves double duty by working the core and burning a ton of calories at the same time.

A study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research even found that body-weight burpees elicit higher metabolic demands than traditional strength training exercises!

  • Start in a standing position and lower your body to place your palms on the floor about shoulder-width apart.
  • Kick your legs back so that you are in a push-up position.
  • Do one push up, then jump your knees back into your chest.
  • Explode up into the air for one rep.

If you want to know how to do burpees and how to incorporate them into a weight loss routine, then this video is exactly what you are looking for.

8. Plank Walk Out and Hold

Don’t let the name fool you! This is actually an awesome exercise that will get you a killer core.

  • Start in a plank, or push up position, with your hands directly under your shoulders.
  • Engage your core as you walk your hands forward slowly while keeping your feet in place.
  • Walk forward your hands as far as you can then hold for 3-5 seconds.
  • Then slowly walk back to the starting position.
  • Repeat this for 8-10 reps.

9. Russian Twist

This move targets your obliques, and adding a dumbbell or medicine ball adds an additional strength training element.

  • Sit on the ground with your knees bent and your heels about a foot from your butt while holding a dumbbell.
  • Lean slightly back but be sure to keep your back straight.
  • Twist to the left, bringing the weight to your left side, then rotate to the right.
  • This completes one rep.

10. Decline Weighted Sit-Up

This exercise is a great way to add resistance work to your core training. Plus, this movement forces you to also work against gravity and with a greater range of motion.

  • Sit on the bench with bent knees and your feet under the padded bar.
  • Hold a dumbbell, weight plate, or medicine ball across your chest or above your head.
  • Raise your torso up to bring your chest to your thighs.
  • Pause here for a few seconds before returning to the starting position.
  • Repeat 12-15 times.

Want even MORE great ab exercises? Check out this full ab workout — it works all of your abdominal muscles and is a great way to build a strong core!

Proper Nutrition is Also Essential

While these ab workouts will definitely help you get a ripped midsection, the recipe for great looking abs also has to include the right nutrition plan.

If you follow up these cardio and strength exercises with processed carbs and foods high in saturated fat, you will never be able to get defined abs.

Plus, your overall health will be negatively impacted by a poor diet.

1 day meal plan

Here’s A Free Weight Loss Meal Plan For Busy Men 40+

1 day meal plan
Discover exactly what to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner to lose belly fat & feel energized 24/7 without hard dieting...

Keep An Eye On Your Macros

Eating a balanced diet with a focus on macronutrient intake is the first step to getting awesome abs.

It’s all about fueling your body with high-quality nutrients and cutting back on processed foods with minimal nutritional value.

Confused about micronutrients and macronutrients? You're not alone. That's why we put this guide together.

Add Lean Protein Sources

If you want to lose belly fat and build a six-pack, you will want to consume lean protein.

This includes foods like chicken, turkey, fish, and lean beef.

While red meat is fine every once in a while, it does have higher amounts of saturated fat, so it’s best to limit your intake.

This will help you fuel your workouts while keeping you satisfied and fulfilling your needed calorie intake.

Protein is a macronutrient that not only builds muscle, but also spares muscle mass while you are cutting calories.

So if you are in a calorie deficit trying to lose fat, protein is an even more essential part of your diet.

For example, a research study looked at men on low-calorie diets that were also performing resistance training and high-intensity interval training six days a week.

Two groups of men consumed the same number of calories, however, the group that ate a higher protein diet gained more lean muscle mass and lost more fat.

If you want a great looking stomach, this is exactly what you are trying to do!

To get great looking abs, you also need to limit foods high in saturated and trans fats.

So while that doesn’t mean you have to completely exclude certain foods from your life, it does mean making smart choices on a daily basis to get in the best shape of your life.

Watch this video to calculate your daily protein intake and find out how much protein you REALLY need!

Choose Healthy Carbs and Fats

You will also need to pay attention to your intake of carbs and fat.

Make sure you limit your consumption of processed foods, basically anything high in sugars and simple starches.

These types of foods will spike your insulin levels and lead to increased weight gain.

But remember, carbs aren’t the enemy — you still need an adequate intake of carbs and healthy fats to fuel your workouts!

Current research shows that carbohydrates are a crucial energy source for high-intensity performance.

Without an adequate intake of quality carbohydrates, performance can suffer, leading to poor workouts and an inability to build that six-pack.

There are so many myths out there saying carbs are the enemy, this video gives you the truth.

Eat Smaller Meals Throughout the Day

Studies have found that spreading your calorie intake out over the course of the day can help with weight loss.

So, instead of eating two or three big meals, try to spread this out into five or six smaller meals throughout the day.

Research has shown that by doing this you can lose weight while reducing the loss of lean body mass.

And the type of food you eat throughout the day is also important.

Eating protein at each meal stimulates muscle protein synthesis more effectively than eating more protein at one meal.

So by spreading out your protein intake over the course of the day, you will be well on the way to a killer core.

If you want to lose weight fast, eat healthier, and spend less time cooking, follow this meal prep for weight loss plan.

Get Enough Sleep, Too

Adequate sleep is essential to reach your weight loss goals and get sculpted abs.

Studies have shown that sleep deprivation can alter hormone levels that impact hunger and metabolism.

Stress hormones like cortisol will rise without enough sleep, and since cortisol is a hormone that causes weight gain in the midsection, this can completely sabotage your weight loss goals.

Insufficient sleep can compromise fat loss even if you are following a good nutrition and fitness plan!

So in order to stay on track to get that killer core, make sure you are getting at least seven, and preferably eight, hours of sleep each night.

This video will provide you with 7 sleep tips that you can start implementing to get higher sleep quality TONIGHT!

Sculpt Those Six-Pack Abs!

While six-pack abs may seem out of reach, really anyone can get great looking abs with the right diet and exercise plan.

But you have to commit yourself to core cardio and strength training along with a solid nutrition plan to achieve this goal.

So get started today with this awesome core circuit, and then hop over to the Fit Father Project YouTube Channel to find even more core and strength training exercises to help you get those six-pack abs!

Holly Smith

Holly Smith M.D. - Osteopathic Medicine, B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

Holly is board-certified in nephrology and internal medicine, has a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, and is a certified personal trainer with NASM-PES certification.

Holly is a keen runner, triathlete, and fitness and nutrition enthusiast. She has completed four full ironmans, twelve marathons, countless half ironmans, Olympic distance triathlons, half marathons, and numerous other road races.

Holly joined the Fit Father Project in May 2019 as a regular writer, contributing articles on health, wellness, exercise, and nutrition.

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*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on how to get abs.

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