Trying to Get Abs? Here’s What You Need to Know

Want to get a stronger core? 

Want a toned midsection? Then keep reading.

One of the most popular questions we get from our clients in our West Chester, PA gym is “how do I train abs?” or “I want to do more abs in my workouts.”

So why don’t we do 30 minutes of abs with every workout? Because it’s a waste of time.

Here’s the thing, you’re not going to see any of your abs until you get to a low body fat percentage. As a general rule of thumb, a “toned” midsection isn’t going to appear for women until they’re around 20% body-fat and for men around 15% body-fat. 

So if your body-fat is over that level (you can find out where you are with the InBody machine at Gage) or you have some excess skin from weight loss or kids, then it’s going to be really tough to actually see your abs.

Notice how I haven’t mentioned ab training yet?

You can do as many sit ups and crunches as you want, you won’t see your abs until you reduce your body fat levels.

And doing more core work won’t speed up burning body fat from your midsection, that’s called spot reducing and it’s a myth. Abs are made in the kitchen AKA your diet is important. 

Okay, so what about getting stronger abs? 

How much ab training do you really need?

If you use free weights, like we do at Gage Strength Training, then every single exercise actually works your abs. You see, doing something like a push up is actually a moving plank, doing a goblet squat also works your abs similar to a plank.

 So, what happens when you do both those exercises together? Now you’re working your core without 1) wasting time doing a separate exercise and 2) your working more muscles than a regular plank so you’re going to build more muscle and burn fat faster! 

Now, let’s break down core training so you can understand it a little bit better. Without getting too much into the science, you can break down core training into 3 types:


Anti- Rotation

Anti- Lateral Flexion 

Anti-flexion movements are things like planks, deadbugs, and ab wheels. But also push ups, goblet carries, goblet squats and lunges. 

Anti-rotation movements are things like band belly presses and birddogs. But also single arm floor or bench press, landmine press, single arm rows, and single leg RDLs. 

And the last one, anti-lateral flexion, includes side planks, but also farmer carries, suitcase carries, suitcase deadlifts, single arm overhead presses. 

Now, if you’re a Gage member and you recognize a lot of those exercises in your program, that’s not by mistake. 

Now, before I get the hate email, there can be benefits to adding some (key word is some) traditional core work in your program. So, if you enjoy doing sit ups, leg raises, and other core work, 5-10 minutes once or twice a week will be fine, but you don’t need more than that. Your abs are muscles just like in your legs or arms, and need time to recover.

To wrap this up, no amount of extra core workouts will get you abs any faster. You need a solid diet and workout routine to get a toned or ripped midsection. Free weights are the way to go if you want to get a stronger core with 1-2 other core-specific exercises mixed in. 

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