How to 'Get Abs'

First off, you have abs.  Everyone has abs.  Yours might just be hiding behind their own little safety blanket of excess body fat.  But if you want to 'get abs', or if you want your abs to be visible it's fairly straight forward. 

Most importantly, you need to have a low body fat percentage.  For men, your abs will become visible around 12-14% body fat or lower.  For women, your abs will become visible around 18-20% body fat or lower.  

You will see your abs sooner if your abs are more pronounced.  That's to say that your abs will become more visible, even with a higher body fat percentage, if the muscles of your abdomen are larger and stronger.  So how do we do this?

Well, if you want big, strong, and pronounced abs then do big, strong lifting exercises.  Squats, deadlifts...even presses and chin ups will help your mission for a six pack.  Crunches and planks are a waste of time here.  Increasing muscle in your trunk is about intensity.  

Want to isolate your midsection?  Great.  Go for it.  But do it heavy.   If you can do more than 20reps of an exercise or sustain it for more than 45 seconds it might improve muscular endurance but it won't help you grow abdominal muscle.  

My favorite trunk isolated exercises...?  Hanging leg raises, V ups, rocks (e.g. hollow rocks), dragon flags, side levers, medicine ball throws, as well as a lot of the explosive movements I encounter from martial arts training...kicks, flips, and other acrobatics.  In a nutshell...things that are pretty hard to do.  However, to reiterate what I said earlier... If you load up your trunk and lift heavy your abs will get stronger.  It's then just a matter of lowering your body fat percentage.

This brings us to an interesting point.  We started this conversation asking the question of how to 'get abs'.  Now, we understand that the quest to 'get abs' is about being strong and having low body fat percentage, two markers that are excellent indicators of health.   And truly, noble goals. 

At the end of the day, the appearance of abs means nothing without their inherent value.  The reason we want abs in the first place because it's expresses our health and vitality to others.  That's what makes them so attractive.  Abs wouldn't be attractive if they didn't represent health.

It may seem trivial but it's actually a fairly seismic shift in perspective.  Maybe if we understand that it's not about 'getting abs' persay, but instead about becoming stronger and healthier we can treat ourselves a little better.  We can hang our heads high knowing that we're going down a more noble path.  We build intrinsic value in ourselves.  Perhaps our training and movement practices will even take on more meaning and value in our everyday life.  

Is it too much to say that if we can adopt this mentality it might even change the world?!  Probably.  But! see where I'm going with this.

So maybe don't worry about 'getting abs'.  Instead focus on becoming stronger.  Lower your body fat percentage.  Enjoy your training.  Enjoy your life.  Do that and you'll probably end up with those abs anyhow.