Ab Workouts 6 Tips That Build Six-Pack Abs with Exercise and Diet By Elizabeth Quinn, MS Elizabeth Quinn, MS Elizabeth Quinn is an exercise physiologist, sports medicine writer, and fitness consultant for corporate wellness and rehabilitation clinics. Learn about our editorial process Updated on May 18, 2020 Reviewed Verywell Fit articles are reviewed by nutrition and exercise professionals. Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Heather Black, CPT Reviewed by Heather Black, CPT Heather Black, CPT is a NASM-certified personal trainer and owner of Heather Black Fitness & Nutrition where she offers remote and in-person training and nutrition coaching. Learn about our Review Board Print Everyone wants "Six Pack Abs." While it's not always easy to get strong, sexy abdominal muscles, you can find your inner six-pack, or at least a stronger, flatter midsection, when you combine healthy eating, with a solid fitness routine that includes endurance, strength, and specific exercises for your abs and core. 1 Clean Up Your Diet Healthy diet for better abs. Patricia Granlund/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images The first step to finding your six-pack is to clean up your diet. If you want to see your ab muscles, you'll likely need to decrease your overall body fat. Cut back on processed foods, sugars, and processed carbs. Eat more vegetables, nuts, fruits, lean protein, and healthy fats, such as olive oil, fish oils, and avocados. How to Create a Calorie Deficit in Your Diet Try to include healthy foods at each meal. Eat some protein for breakfast, lots of vegetables, fruits, and fiber and drink water rather than calorie-laden beverages. However, moderation is key. Some healthy foods (like nuts and avocado) are high in (healthy) fat and calories. While it's smart to include them in your diet, try to include them in moderation. Bottom line: eat more high quality, nutrient-rich foods and eat fewer empty, processed calories. 2 Add High Intensity Training If you want to get fit faster and burn more calories in less time, don't spend all your time in the so-called fat-burning zone. Instead, add some high-intensity training (HIT) to your workouts a couple of times each week. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, you can burn more calories in less time with short, high-intensity exercise. High-Intensity Interval Training is a great way to strengthen abdominal muscles while boosting cardiovascular fitness. You can also boost your overall cardiovascular fitness with this type of training. Be sure to slowly ramp up your intensity, however, or you could wind up with an injury. 3 Perform Regular Cardio Aerobic exercise is one of the safest ways to burn lots of calories over a long period of time while maintaining heart health. Simply modifying your diet or reducing your calories without exercise will lead to initial weight loss, but you'll likely reach a plateau and you may also lose muscle. A personal exercise plan that has a solid base of cardiovascular exercise will help you maintain exercise for the long-term, overcome weight loss plateaus, and maintain your muscle mass. So get out for a nice long walk, a hike, a bike ride or a swim on a regular basis. Park the car and walk for most of your errands and just get moving more often. 4 Build More Muscle Strength training is an essential part of most fitness routines, but if you want a six pack, building more muscle can help. Strength training with weight lifting not only helps build muscle, but that muscle can help boost your metabolism and increase muscle definition. If performed as part of a high-intensity interval workout, it can also be a great way to burn lots of calories in a short time. Strengthening the muscles, tendons, and ligaments also helps reduce strain on the joints which ultimately can help prevent many sports injuries. 5 Do Abdominal and Core Exercises Once you've reduced the layer of body fat to the point where your six-pack is starting to show, performing specific ab and core strengthening exercises will make them much more visible. Once you understand how to safely exercise your abs, you'll find core exercises are most effective when the torso works as a solid unit and both front and back muscles contract at the same time, and you perform multi-joint movements. Key exercises include: Plank: Learn how to do it properly and maintain a straight line from ears to toes. Hold it for 10 seconds and over time build up to 30, 45 or 60 seconds. Bicycle crunches: The bicycle crunch is another great core exercise that engages many muscles at once to help work the core in every possible way. Add this to your ab routine if you don't already do it. Vertical knee raise (or captain's chair): This exercise requires some gym equipment, so check around your health club and give it a try. Crunches on an exercise ball: These days many people already have an exercise ball at home, so if you've got one give this exercise a try. 6 Play Sports One of the best ways to get six pack abs is by playing sports that burn the fat and engage the core naturally. Athletes who play sports that naturally engage both the upper and lower body in powerful, repetitive movements have a great six-pack as a by-product of playing a sport they love. For example, sports like soccer, basketball, and swimming burn calories and require you to engage core muscles during the activity. Why not get your six-pack while having fun? At-Home Strength Workouts for All Levels 1 Source Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. American College of Sports Medicine. High-Intensity Interval Training. By Elizabeth Quinn, MS Elizabeth Quinn is an exercise physiologist, sports medicine writer, and fitness consultant for corporate wellness and rehabilitation clinics. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from companies that partner with and compensate Verywell Fit for displaying their offer. These partnerships do not impact our editorial choices or otherwise influence our editorial content.