Updated: Jun 2, 2018
Abs are made in the kitchen. You must have heard this saying many times being repeated over and over again. I must say that I disagree with that statement because its simply not true. I will explain why and then I will list 3 steps on how to actually build amazing abs.
Abdominal muscles, just like any other muscles in our body, must be sufficiently stimulated through various different exercises to have a viable development and adaptations. While it is true that to have visible six pack you need to be sufficiently lean, you still need to develop them first. I have seen many cases, including myself, where individuals diet down to as low as 10% with abs barely visible. This is the case where abs simply do not ''pop'' because of the lack of the development. So the more accurate saying would be that abs are made in the gym but revealed in the kitchen. It is during your bulking, not the cutting period that you should be focusing on building your six pack.
It is also important to consider the benefits of strengthening your core muscles if you are a beginner, particularly for your lower back, as it will help with your overall stability when performing some of the compound movements in other exercises. Abdominal activation also increases the stiffness of the spine and promotes stability.
Step 1 Consider your own body structure and genetics first
Before you can build your own program and strategy for your ab training you need to consider what you are working with. Do you have a wide waist? Do you already have a decent abs by genetics? Do you perhaps have a small waist? What is the structure of your abdominal? Do you have a six pack or a four pack? Do you already have a strong obliques?
Answers to these questions will give you an idea on how to intelligently train your abs. For example if you already have a wide waist and strong obliques then it probably is not necessary for you to do any ab work with weights but only with body weight. This way you would avoid getting even thicker waist by growing your abs.