• Ciaran O’Connell

The ultimate way to get abs

There is one big rule to getting abs that nobody wants to discuss.

I’m going to tell you it straight up.

A calorie deficit is the best way to see your abs - aka losing body fat.

No matter how many ab circuits you do and ab workouts from your favourite influencer, you can’t just get a 6 pack without the layer of fat being reduced.

Of course, there are optimal ways to work the abdominal region, and I will discuss those further down, but first thing first is to remove that extra bit of tummy fat hiding the abs you want to be seen.

What is a calorie deficit? This is having less calories in than burning out.

It can come in 2 forms. Eating less, or moving more (or both).

Think of the calories in vs calories out like a see saw.

On one side you have the food you’re consuming (calories in) and on the other side you have the exercise and activity you’re doing (calories out). The way you want this see saw to look is with the calories in being at the top with the majority of weight on calories out.

When this shift in calories happens, the body has to use the excess of calories in the body (fat) to provide enough energy to match the calories going out.

Get this balance working for you and you’ll have done 70% of the work. It’s true what they say that abs are 70% diet, 30% exercise (it’s probably an even bigger ratio if I’m honest).

What are the best ab exercises?

Contrary to belief, the best ab exercises aren’t ones that cause spinal flexion (like a crunch). This is because the spine isn’t designed to move like this and utilise the core that way.

Instead you want to focus on exercises that require constant contraction from the core and abdominals.

My top 3 exercises are:

  • Hanging leg raise

  • Kneeling cable woodchop

  • Weighted reverse crunch

All of these exercises have been scientifically found to produce the highest EMG scores for the 3 distinctive parts of the abdominals.

Hanging leg raise

This is great because the core has to maintain its straight position to stop the body from rocking. The lower abs have to work hard to lift both legs up and control them down. This creates constant tension around the core, using it for stability and hip flexion.

Kneeling cable woodchop

Working across the obliques aids a strong rotational core, important for a number of daily tasks. using this method with soft elbows requires the core to do the majority of work moving the cable. in addition controlling the cable back to the starting point keep constant tension and forces the core to fight in an anti-rotational fashion.

Weighted reverse crunch

This exercise brings the knees up in the air with the feet off the floor, eliminating the lower back from curling and causing spinal flexion. Having a weight on the chest creates more tension over bodyweight alone. The small crunch motion towards the knees forces only the top portion of the abdominals to drive and control the movement. Having the legs in the air also creates a slight imbalance and forces the core to work to keep the lower back pressed in to the floor.

These are just 3 of the exercises I recommend trying to carve out a great core. But as discussed at the beginning, if you want to see those abs, you have to lose the fat through a calorie deficit. You cannot spot reduce fat! It comes off when it comes off during a calorie deficit.

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