Pro tips for sculpting abs

Last Modified: 1/06/2023


This post was written by Isaac Jones, human performance specialist, Parkview Sports Medicine.

Out of the myriad of fitness goals motivating gym-goers and home workout devotees, developing a chiseled midsection is among the most common. Developing your abs requires a level of consistency and discipline in both the gym and the kitchen that few other fitness goals require. So how do you know where to start?


When deciding which exercises to perform to train the abs, it’s important to select movements that will isolate all of the different parts of the abdominal musculature through a full range of motion.

A good routine includes exercises that effectively target the upper and lower parts of the rectus abdominus (middle of the trunk) and the obliques (sides of the trunk).

Sample routine:

  • Upper: Crunch, arms across chest (12-20 reps)
  • Lower: Leg raise (6-15 reps)
  • Obliques: Bicycle crunch (15-20 reps)

Once you are able to do the above routine three times through with perfect technique, try progressing the exercise by holding onto a weight or adding pauses at the top.

Pro tip No. 1 – Use a slow, steady tempo when training the abs. Using momentum results in less resistance being applied to the abs, which can slow your progress.

Pro tip No. 2 – Avoid letting your hip flexors take over the movement. Focus on bringing the center of your chest closer to your navel in order to put emphasis on the abs.


“Abs are built in the gym, but they’re revealed in the kitchen.”

One of the most common pitfalls people encounter while working on their midsection muscles, is failing to achieve a sufficiently low body fat percentage. If you’re working toward having visible abs, it doesn’t matter how effective your ab exercises are if you aren’t also working toward a body fat percentage that allows you to see them. Generally speaking, this requires about 8-12% body fat for men and 14-18% body fat for women.

For more on eating to build muscle, read:

Protein plays an important part in weight management

The phases of perfecting your physique

Nutrition to support your active lifestyle

Lightning round: 12 fat loss myths debunked

Is that it?

Remember, the most important part of achieving your fitness goals is to take sustainable, consistent steps. Healthy changes, no matter how small, have a big impact!

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