Abs Are NOT Made In The Kitchen: The Truth About How To Get Ripped Abs

how to get ripped abs

In this crazy, fucked up world of fitness, there are 2 groups of people when it comes to getting ripped abs.

Group 1: Getting a ripped six pack is all about diet.

Group 2: Getting a ripped six pack is all about your workout and the exercises you do.

And then there’s crazy Group 3 who thinks it’s all about genetics.

Which group do I belong in? Well I used to belong in Group 1.

Up until a few years ago, I believed that getting a six pack and super shredded abs was all about dieting. All the gurus said shit like:

“Abs are made in the kitchen, bro.”

“Abs are 80% diet and 20% training.”

And these were statements coming from guys who were super ripped and on the internet, being ripped = everyone believes you.

So at that point, I was about 185 pounds at 6 ft tall. I didn’t have a ton of muscle mass (for my height), and I wanted to get down to about 165-170 pounds so I could have a body like Brad Pitt in Fight Club.

So I dieted down to 172’ish using a combo of intermittent fasting (eat stop eat and leangains) along with some weird carb cycling stuff. My workout was a simple 3 day full body routine, that didn’t include any direct ab training.

So how did I look at 170? Did I have the super shredded Fight Club abs that I was hoping for?


I lost body fat, but my abs looked shittier than ever.

I wasn’t necessarily fat, but my stomach was just flat. It didn’t have any definition and I couldn’t even see the outline of my abs.

Why abs are not made in the kitchen

You can diet until you’re 5% body fat but none of that fucking matters if you have no developed ab muscles to begin with.

Dieting in hopes of getting a badass six pack without any proper ab training results in what I like to call the “Justin Beiber Effect.” See below.

Justin beiber abs

I’m apologize for this picture.

How to properly train your abs for a shredded six pack

Here’s are my 5 best tips for getting a badass six pack and avoiding the Justin Beiber body.

Tip 1: Build some damn muscle first

Seriously. Don’t even attempt dieting if you’re skinny and don’t have a solid foundation of muscle yet. If you do this in the name of getting abs, you’re just gonna look like a skinnier, weaker version of yourself.

And only when you have a solid foundation of muscle (your first 20 pounds or so), should you consider cutting some fat.

Mark Whalberg abs

Mark Whalberg had great abs and muscular development

Tip 2: Really contract your abs when training in the gym

There are 2 ways to train your abs. The first is by really contracting your abs hard when doing movements that engage them.

This means exercises such as squats, deadlifts, and virtually any exercise done standing (including things like dumbbell curls when done standing up). So the next time you do deadlifts or even dumbbell curls, really squeeze and contract your abs. Not only will doing so allow you to lift more weight, but it’ll also help you develop a strong and badass six pack.

Tip 3: Do direct ab exercises

Most people should directly train their abs anywhere from 2-3 times per week with 3-4 sets x 10-20 reps each time.

Exercises such as:

  • Cable crunches
  • Hanging leg raises (add some weight when you can easily do over 20 reps)
  • DragonFlys
  • Planks
  • Ab wheel exercises

are all great for developing your abs.

Pro Tip

Don’t be a show off.

Once you do reach ripped six pack abs glory, be humble about it. If you’re one of those people who lifts up their shirt in the gym and flexes their abs in the mirror, you have lost all respect in my book.

The truth about how to get ripped abs – why they aren’t made in the kitchen

While dieting and eating correctly is an absolutely crucial part of the six pack process, it may not be as important as you once thought.

Abs are not made by dieting, they are REVEALED by dieting.

And if you don’t have the proper tools in place (i.e. well developed ab muscles), then all the dieting in the world won’t give you a nice pair of abs.

Make sense?

The importance of having enough muscle

Here’s a pic of me:

get ripped abs


On the left, I weighed about 172 after dieting and frankly, looked like shit. At this stage I relied too much on dieting and didn’t train my abs at all.

On the right (about 18 months later), I ironically weighed much more at 185 after I decided to focus a large chunk of time on building strength and muscle. And it paid off. I have a better, more well-developed physique now at 185 vs 172.

Yeah yeah, I know I’m not the most ripped guy in the room. And guess what? I don’t freakin care. The point I’m trying to drive home is – sometimes you need to build up your abs a bit in order to see them and not just focus on body fat percentage.

What do you guys think? Is getting ripped abs all about dieting or exercise? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.


  1. Ussf says

    I like doing the Ab Ripper X routine 3 times a week and as always, eating clean whole foods and proteine shakes and bars.

  2. John says

    I’m staying on the course for the long haul like you did. Hopefully by mid 2016 I get where I want.

    So the first time you dropped fat and went to 172, how long did THAT take?

    Follow up, was that the last time you had to do big cutting phase?

  3. Dora says

    You look pretty small at 185 for a 6ft guy, just got me thinking if there is a chart on lean mass to height. Am still a fat blob(30% bfat) with a long way to go but being a nerd I have a very academic approach at losing weight.
    Thanks for your articles, cleared up a lot of doubts I had.

  4. Breen Madison says

    When you dropped an “F” bomb mid-sentence, you lost all credibility in my eyes, and I dismissed everything you had to say. It was uncalled for and offensive. And just for the record, you only wish you were half as beautiful as Justin Bieber. Where’s YOUR PIC???

  5. Yannick says

    Been training for a very long time the first time i saw abs was when i worked them like hell when doing kyokushin karate.

    Thanks for the website and all you post because its the truth. I love intermittent fasting too its amazing.

  6. Lee says

    Is it alright to do the same abs routines(same sets and reps) over and over again to get abs ? And if you don’t mind could you please comment on my abs routine :

    a) Long arm crunch 12 reps
    b) Reverse crunch 12 reps
    c) Sitted cable crunch 10 reps
    d) Decline sit up 12 reps
    e) Planks 45 mins

    3 Sets of above .

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