Make Your Abs Pop: 5 Principles to Live By in Getting Ripped

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The most common goal for people who work out is learning how to make your abs pop. Well, you are not alone in that reverie. Ask anybody who just committed to jogging, swimming, going to the gym, or engaging in strenuous sports activities 3-4 times a week if getting a six-pack abs is a part of his or her workout goals. More often than not, you will get a resounding “yes”.  

What are abs, really?

Mention the word “abs” today and instantly, the first thing that comes to mind for many people, perhaps even you, is a flat sexy stomach with highly defined musculature. And who wouldn’t want that? It’s one of the epitomes of this generation’s perception of what is sexy.

How to make your abs pop

However, abs is simply an abridged term for abdominal muscles. Meaning, everyone has it and was born with it. Otherwise, you would not be able to stand or sit erect, or keep your innards intact like some of those ghoulish CGI extras in “Walking Dead”. They just don’t look the same in everyone, as many have their abs concealed in flabs.

That last statement may sound a bit harsh. But the sooner you digest that salty grain of truth, the quicker you realize that getting a ripped midsection involves a two-pronged stratagem: simultaneously developing your stomach muscles and dissolving the stored fat cells on top of it.

Here are some guiding principles to help keep you on track in your fitness goals without compromising your health:

# 1 – In developing your abs you must work out your entire core muscles.

That six-pack will not show if you train your front stomach muscles solely. Pay attention to every band of fibrous tissue around your trunk and pelvis, including your lower back and oblique muscles. After all, developing them not only improves your look, it stabilizes your posture, builds your overall strength, and helps you perform better physically as well. And that is not just in sports but also in various everyday activities.

First off, one of the things you have to learn on how to make your abs pop is that your core muscles are predominantly fast-twitch skeletal muscle fibers. It means they tend to wield more power and strength but fatigue faster and recover slower. The best way to work them out is subjecting them to high-resistance training at 8-15 reps per set.

Try to work out all the four major parts of your core in each training session. To name and identify their locations, they are the rectus abdominis (front abdomen from sternum to pelvis); the external oblique (sides of your stomach); the latissimus dorsi (the broadest back muscles); the serratus (side of your body between the oblique and the l. dorsi).

Among the most basic exercises for the abdominals include sit-ups, cable crunch, and planking; for the oblique, there are side bends, dumbbell side bends and Russian twists. To fire up your l. dorsi, there are air bikes, jackknife or V sit-ups, and the seated barbell twist. As for the serratus, there is the barbell pullover, lying leg raise, and bench leg pull-in, among others. Just group them with one exercise for each core part and start with 3 sets each. Mix and match or rotate them from time to time.

# 2 – No matter how developed your abdominal muscles have become, it will not show if covered in fat.

While you can workout and build muscle groups individually, you simply cannot reduce fat in just one particular area of your body. If you want to have washboard abs that shows then you must trim down all over. There is just no such thing as a natural spot reduction. This is one of the most important things most people don’t know about how to make your abs pop. 

Among the most effective workout regimens to rapidly shed your fat layers and make your abs pop include compounds and HIIT. Compounds are free weights training exercises that target various muscle groups at the same time. On the other hand, HIIT or High-Intensity Interval Training involves alternating an all-out effort of physical exertion, like say a short-distance run or swim sprint, with a short period of rest or active recovery. It is quite similar with fartlek or “speed play” that is commonly employed in training programs for speed-focused sports like track & field or swimming.

How to make your abs pop

Compounds not only help build overall strength and stamina, they are also found to be really helpful in burning body fats. I am not saying though that you should forget isolation exercises, as you need them as well to create muscle definitions. I am just suggesting that you always include one or two compounds in every workout session such as barbell squats, dumbbell lunges, bench press, shoulder press and as something for the abs, abdominal bicycle.

HIIT is just the way to go for cardio exercises. It was proven that you get better results in both the fat burning and strength & stamina departments than continuous movement aerobics. And it usually requires a shorter time to accomplish. For example, instead of running on the treadmill for 30 minutes at a controlled pace, alternate running all-out 30-second sprints with 2 minutes walking pace for 20 minutes. When I was a varsity swimmer, we did fartlek training wherein we alternated 8 sets of 25M all-out sprints with 8 sets of 50M regular pace swims.

You can also apply HIIT principles with abs training. What you do is after each set of, say, cable crunches, barbell twist, etc., do a minute of front or side planking instead of just merely resting.

# 3 – You simply cannot get ripped without the proper nutrition.

The amount and type of food you regularly eat may help or hinder your quest for sexy abs. I know that it’s really difficult to shun processed food nowadays but try to stick as much as possible to whole foods, as it will tremendously help you in your fitness objectives. More importantly, make sure that you are getting the right amount and kind of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats daily.

How to make your abs pop

Proteins provide you with amino acids that are essential for muscle buildup and should constitute the biggest percentage of your diet. Get them from lean meat, poultry meat, fish, eggs, soy, chickpeas, etc. Carbs, which supply your body with energy fuel, should be the second most ample portion of your meals. They can be found in bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, quinoa, etc. Fat, which helps regulate your core body temperature, facilitates vitamins absorption, and acts as a concentrated backup energy source, should constitute the least amount of serving on your plate due to its high caloric value. As much as possible, stick to monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat sources such as nuts, vegetable oil, avocados and omega-3 rich fish such as tuna and salmon.

Liquids primarily clean drinking water, as well as the fluid content of fresh fruits and vegetables are also of utmost importance in your diet if you want to have a ripped torso. Not only that they provide your body with essential nutrients, they also rev up your metabolism, hydrate and prime your muscles, and liberate toxins and fatty deposits to be expelled out of your system.

# 4 – The amount of time needed in achieving 6-pack abs has many variables.

How fast can you achieve a ripped torso? There are many factors you need to know on how to make your abs pop. For example, it all depends on many factors such as your age, sex, diet, lifestyle, workout routine, and genetic predisposition. Not only that your metabolism and ability to build muscles slow down as you age, your own natural body type (you are either an endomorph, an ectomorph or if you’re really blessed, a mesomorph) also matters in determining your speed rate for achieving your fitness goal. Other aspects to consider include your eating and sleeping habits, and whether you are living an active or almost sedentary lifestyle. 

We are touching this subject not to aid you in making excuses or deter you in pursuing a dream physique. Instead, it is our objective to give you a proper perspective so you can smartly plot a fitness program that will work best for you. With hard work, discipline, and determination, you can surely override any handicap including genetic predisposition. Your attitude, more than your aptitude will determine your success in your objectives.

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Knowing your body and lifestyle profile well beforehand will enable you to customize both a workout and nutrition program that will work best for you. You may also enlist the help of a physician, a nutritionist or a qualified fitness instructor in your cause.

# 5 – Use but not abuse safety-tested and clinically formulated supplements if you must.

I don’t normally endorse non-organic nutrients, but somehow I cannot discount the fact that they do help at times in overcoming some of the hurdles toward rapid fat reduction and muscle growth. Factors such as age, genetic predisposition and current physical shape and condition can be quickly addressed by the non-essential amino acids in some supplements. Non-essential means that your body does not normally produce it and can only come from external sources such as food and supplements.

Other than protein shakes, you can also try caffeine-free pre-workout supplements to help you reach your fitness goals faster. Be careful though in picking one, as only about 10 – 20% of the available products in the market are unanimously proven safe and effective. Among the most desirable contents that you should look for when buying supplements are creatine, BCAA, citrulline, beta-alanine, and various essential vitamins and minerals. I do not recommend prolonged use of these products though. Once you reach your target physique, it’s time to gradually wean yourself from it and rely more on natural sources of nutrition.


Remember the adage “white men can’t jump, black men can’t swim”? It actually has some truth in it, as those of African descent tend to have leaner bodies with lower body fat, thus they are less buoyant. That is why you rarely see black competitors in swimming championships. But in 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Anthony Nesty of Suriname became the first swimming gold medalist of African descent. In the process, he bested the American Matt Biondi, who was fancied to replicate Mark Spitz’s Olympics feat in 1972, in the 50-meters Butterfly event.

Nesty aptly demonstrated that you could overcome genetic disposition with the proper scientific training, hard work, discipline, and commitment. You can do it too in some areas of your life, including in the pursuit of your dream physique with an abs that pop. Sometimes it may take extreme patience to overcome whatever perceived handicap you may have. But stick to it and you will get where you wanted to be. 

If this article has given you insight on how to make your abs pop, then feel free to leave a comment and share it on social media. 

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