16 Women Reveal Exactly How They Got Six-Pack Abs
What does it really take to get six-pack abs? These women can tell you exactly what worked for them.
Work out on an empty stomach
“Always work out on an empty stomach—it burns calories and stored fat. Many people make the mistake of having a banana—which can be equivalent to two slices of bread—before going to the gym and don’t understand why they are not losing weight. Your body is going to burn that banana first before it starts to burn any body fat. But by the time you’re done burning off the banana, you are out of the gym!” —Neda Varbanova, 28, founder of Healthy with Nedi. Here are short inspirational quotes that will get you up and running towards your goals.
“I’ll stray from using the cliche ‘abs are made in the kitchen.’ But you can easily go from two upper abs to four or six based on what you’re eating! That said, CrossFit has been key for me. We never or rarely do traditional ab exercises. Instead, the core is developed through barbell movements, gymnastics, and conditioning workouts. Folks shouldn’t be relying on the old bicycles anymore.” —April Kaminski, 36, customer service manager. Find out the myths you need to stop believing for you to get abs.
Work your body from several angles
“I’ve learned the hard way that being just a cardio queen wasn’t going to give me the six-pack abs I was looking for. I didn’t start to see my abs until I blended what I call the ‘trifecta’—spin for cardio, barre for toning, and TRX for strength training and core. The combination of working the muscles in all these different ways is where you really start to see the definition—after all, you’re working several angles! I also find it important to nurture my bones and joints with a collagen protein powder like Bulletproof Collagen Protein.”—Katie Graham, 27, owner and instructor at RIDE. Here’s more advice from trainers on how to build muscle fast.
Try low impact workouts
“Our best ab results have come from low impact, lengthening workouts: Think Pilates, gliders, and light weights. The other thing to keep in mind is that you can put in a ton of work in the gym and not see the results if you’re not eating a healthy, balanced diet. Our selects: lots of greens, lean proteins, healthy fats, and the right carbohydrates to keep us energized.” —Dale Borchiver, 27 and Elizabeth Endres, 25, founders of Sweats and The City. Check out what happens to your body when you stop eating carbs.
Make sure you aren’t suffering from bloat
“Make sure it’s not bloating and stomach distention that’s your problem. Fiber helps promote elimination. It also combats constipation which can cause a distended belly. When you start increasing fiber in your diet, you must drink more water too, because soluble fiber holds onto water—otherwise you can end up constipated. Aim for two to three liters of water daily. Sodium and potassium are electrolytes in charge of water balance in our body. Sodium causes retention of water and potassium flushes out extra water helping you achieve a flatter and bloat-free stomach. Aim to limit sodium and add foods naturally high in potassium into your diet; most fruit and veggies are high in potassium.” —Danielle Hamo, RD LD/N in private practice.
Abs are made out of the kitchen
“My best advice on how to get abs is simple: healthy eating, lift weights, and HYDRATE! You only need to train your core two to three times per week and make sure to get adequate rest. Abs are built outside the gym more so than in the gym, so living a healthy lifestyle is a must. Make sure you eat a high protein diet and stop eating when full.” —Allison Metselaar, 30, founder of Healthy Alibi. Find out the best ab workouts for a flat tummy.
Drink watermelon water
“During the hot summer months, it’s easy to let your hydration slip, especially when you are out there killing it in your core workouts! Since every summer I find myself craving watermelons, WTRMLN WTR is what I love to hydrate and get a sweet pick me up. I’ve also found that it’s important to work on training all my core muscles, making sure to hit the front, sides (obliques), and even my back.” —Sasha Gadek, 32, medical practice manager.
Load up on protein and healthy fats—yes, you need fat to burn fat!
“Protein will help you build lean muscle and burn body fat, as will eating healthy fats such as those found in raw nuts, nut butters, fish oils, and olive oil.” —Ilaria Cavagna, 45, Pilates instructor and founder of High Heel Rescue. To make sure you’re getting the right amount of the macronutrient, find out the other signs you’re not eating enough healthy fats.
Use full-body equipment
“A key for me has been continuous movement using full body equipment like TRX. I will do a few movements in a sequence with minimal rest time in between sets. This allows my muscles to stay under constant tension for several minutes. An example is TRX side plank knee tucks paired with TRX body saw. The burn is unreal and I’m always out of breath!” —Ali Bourgerie, 25, certified holistic nutritionist. Check out the best workout shoes for women for every type of workout.
Eat a rainbow of good carbs
“When it comes to getting six-pack abs, diet is very important. I always eat a rainbow of colors and I always eat carbs—but only good carbs like quinoa, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, etc. I need to eat carbs to fuel my body so I can work out and then mix with proteins to assist in muscle growth and recovery.”—Bianca Cheah-Chalmers, 37, model and founder of digital publication Sporteluxe.
Don’t compare yourself to anyone
“If you’re still on the journey to building your own six-pack abs, don’t find an Instagram personality to copy. Don’t compare yourself to the person next to you. Instead, notice how after every class, every healthy meal, you feel stronger. Most importantly, remember that when you see your core muscles start to appear as a result of your hard work, you can’t just quit. Having six-pack abs is a lifetime commitment to healthy eating, consistent workouts, and embracing what your genetics gave you.” —Sarah Buie, 32, studio manager and coach at [solidcore]. Check out the biggest mistake women make when it comes to ab exercises.
Do HIIT sprinting workouts
“I attribute my six-pack abs to the Mission Lean sprinting workouts that I do on the track and the treadmill. When I do my sprints I run at 85 to 100 percent of my absolute maximum capacity—my legs literally cannot go any faster—for one to three minutes depending on the workout. I take 30 seconds or less for a break in between. I never linger during the workout. It’s not long—maybe a total of 15 mins for the sprints (plus a warmup and cool down). Then I rest afterward. The sprinting workouts are so intense that my body not only burns fat in the actual workout but for days afterward.” —Lyuda Bouzinova, 31, Mission Lean co-founder and ACE-certified personal trainer and a fitness nutrition specialist.
Make sure your diet is on point
“Nowadays everybody wants six-pack abs. While there’s no one real secret in achieving six-pack abs, let me emphasize on how important it is to focus on your diet! I make sure to eat enough lean protein to help build muscle and I refuel with complex carbs after my workout.” —Quianna Burgess, 34, RSP Nutrition athlete and personal trainer.
Have a training plan
“High-intensity workouts added to an educated training plan yields an increase in performance, and a side effect of this higher level of capability is a lean, defined midsection that will keep your body safe. An increase in performance can only be achieved if there are markers of performance in the first place. Train to be stronger and faster, and your body will adapt to be so.” —Mara Marek, 37, a trainer at New York Health & Racquet Club. Here’s how to get abs without doing a single core exercise.
“Abdominal muscles are all about consistency. Unlike other muscle groups that need rest from training, abs don’t. If you are consistent with diet, drink lots of water, do cardio, and follow a good lifting program, your abs will start to show. Everything takes time to develop though. To build a killer body it takes years not just a week or days. Consistency is key.” —Johanna Stavrakaki, 33, CEO of Sthenos
Know your food intolerances
“Figuring out what food intolerances you may have (what makes you bloat) and what is hard on your gut will help along with maintaining a healthy balanced diet. It’s all about how you balance your food intake. I don’t deprive myself of any food type, but I focus on portion control and making sure I am eating clean real food.” —Andrea Rogers, 37, founder of Xtend Barre. Next, find out the tricks to flatten your belly, without a lick of exercise.
- Neda Varbanova, founder of Healthy with Nedi.
- April Kaminski, customer service manager.
- Katie Graham, owner and instructor at RIDE in Southampton, PA.
- Dale Borchiver and Elizabeth Endres, founders of Sweats and The City, New York City.
- Danielle Hamo, RD LD/N in private practice in Miami, Florida.
- Allison Metselaar, founder of Healthy Alibi, New York City.
- Sasha Gadek, medical practice manager, Chicago.
- Ilaria Cavagna, Pilates instructor and founder of High Heel Rescue, New York City.
- Ali Bourgerie, certified holistic nutritionist.
- Bianca Cheah-Chalmers, model and founder of digital publication Sporteluxe, Sydney, Australia and Los Angeles.
- Sarah Buie, studio manager and coach at [solidcore], Washington, D.C.
- Lyuda Bouzinova, Mission Lean co-founder and ACE-certified personal trainer and a fitness nutrition specialist, South Florida.
- Quianna Burgess, RSP Nutrition athlete and personal trainer.
- Mara Marek, a trainer at New York Health & Racquet Club, New York City.
- Johanna Stavrakaki, CEO of Sthenos.
- Andrea Rogers, founder of Xtend Barre, Boca Raton, FL.