How to Get Great-Looking Abs (Hint: Not With Crunches)

Awesome abs

Crunches are fine for achieving a strong core, but they're not going to help you in your quest for a super-firm, trim midsection.

If you really want to show off your abs, you must lose fat—especially the layer that covers (and hides) the muscles underneath.

As a matter of fact, good-looking abs have less to do with exercise (although strength training should be a part of your plan) and more to do with your diet and cardio conditioning.

Your diet affects your body's ability to burn fat. To burn more fat:

  • Drink lots of water
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals and snacks
  • Eat lean protein, clean carbs, and healthy fats
  • Increase protein consumption to about 0.6-0.8 grams per (desired) pound of body weight
  • Minimize fried foods and sweets

When it comes to cardio, skip the slow, steady stuff in favor of:

  • High-intensity interval training (HIIT), which helps get fat out of storage and into the bloodstream where it can be used for energy. Alternate bouts of high-intensity activity with low-intensity intervals.
  • Thirty seconds of fast-paced running followed by 90 seconds of light jogging. You can do this while walking or biking, or on a treadmill, elliptical machine, stepper, etc.
  • Skip the Crunches in the weight room and try Planks.

After you've mastered the Plank with both arms, try these variations:

  • One arm elevated
  • One leg elevated
  • One arm and opposite leg elevated
  • Hands on BOSU ball (flat side up)
  • Feet on physioball
  • Hands (or forearms) on physioball
  • Alternating, touching elbow to opposite knee
  • TRX plank with feet suspended
  • TRX plank with arms suspended
  • Side plank

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: STRENGTH TRAINING | PROTEIN | CORE | ABS | CARDIO | RUNNING | WATER | ENERGY | EXERCISE | CLEAN | INTENSITY | SNACKS | TREADMILL | ELLIPTICAL