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The Myth of Toning Your Abs

Updated: Dec 25, 2021

Everyone wants visible abs.

Having a defined midsection is such a popular fitness goal that you’ll see more online ab routines than any other muscle group. 

Generally speaking, women train predominantly lower body. Men train their upper body. Both train their abs!

Here’s the dirty little secret about obtaining the elusive six-pack:

You don’t get abs by training abs.

The reason you can’t see your ab muscles is because there’s a layer of fat sitting on top of them. Most people think that you can lose that specific layer of fat by training the muscles that sit beneath it. This is known as spot reduction, and it’s a myth that just won’t die.

Just like you don’t choose where you’ll gain fat, you can’t really choose where you’ll lose it either.

The best strategy for getting visible abs is by reducing your overall body fat percentage.

Leaning Out 101

The most important factor for getting lean is strategically reducing your caloric intake. You won’t lose fat if you’re not eating at a caloric deficit—period.

When it comes to training, you ideally want a combination of resistance training (weights) and cardio. Training intensely three times per week is a bare minimum. Training the abs directly will not make you lose belly fat, but doing functional core exercises (like Paloff presses, dead bugs, and hanging knee raises) helps with ab muscle development, posture and performance.

Finally, you need the patience to continue this routine consistently for a long time. This is where most people mess up, and for good reason. It’s hard to make all the sacrifices needed to get lean, especially in the food department. It’s up to you to decide whether or not getting really lean is worth the lifestyle sacrifices.

To sum it all up:

Having visible abs is a product of reducing your body fat percentage via hard training and a reduction in caloric intake. You can train the abs all you want, but your results will be minimal if you neglect all the other training and lifestyle factors. 


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