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

December 1, 2016 | 144 Comments

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

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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

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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
  • Woodchoppers
  • 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 (and why they aren’t made in the kitchen)

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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

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Here’s a pic of me:

get ripped abs workout

On the left, I weighed about 170 after months of dieting and honestly, looked like shit. At this stage I relied too much on dieting and barely trained my abs.

On the right (years later), I ironically weighed much more at 195 after I decided to focus a large chunk of time on building strength and muscle using workouts like Superhero Shredding.

And it paid off. I have a better, more well-developed physique now at 190 vs 170.

Yeah yeah, I know I’m not the most ripped guy in the room. And guess what? I don’t freaking care.

The point I’m trying to drive home is this: 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.

144 Comments - Leave Your Thoughts

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  1. Hi? I’m just 15 and my height is about 5’4 and a Filipino. I’m trying to do ab workouts about 3 months ago and trying to do it everyday, and I’m not undergoing on a diet(because I can’t HAHAHAHA) But I’m trying to lessen my foods, and every time I finished eating I’m doing an workouts, my weight from 61 kg 3 months ago became 53 kg, but I still have belly fats. So can someone help me remove my fats without going on a diet 😀

    1. That’s technically not possible. You need to be in a calorie deficit to lose fat. But since you’re only 15, I would just focus on making better food choices (less junk food, more whole foods).

    2. Make substitutions. Stop using olive oil- use spray or balsamic vinegar instead. Don’t drink beer- drink whiskey instead. Stop using heavy cream in coffee- go for milk.

  2. True article☺ most people, Eat to much … carbs, and. The Body not burns all the. Excess, the rest stores as fat. When I researched, shaolin monks found meals mostly vegetarian- “low carbs” with exercise. (Kungfu) they eat 3 meals a day with portion control.. not 6 . Protein is beans and not many people realize beans has higher level amount of the Protein than eggs per serving.

  3. I am older turning 65 this year. I did the diet stuff about 8 years ago. In 2010 or so I was about 170 I had lost over 40 lbs. I was too sedentary. My diet which is more a way of life is mostly white meat. Milk must be skim, Drink water no soda. Eat lots of whole grains, veggies, nuts, seeds etc. Noticed maybe over a year ago if I breathed in I could see some abs. Now I don’t need to breath in. I have a handicap so am limited at the gym but do leg raises and use abdominal machines at the gym.I call mine a minor 6 pac.I don’t raise my shirt at the gym lol but have had a few stares from others as I guess you can see them through my shirt. So I think it does have a lot to do with diet but exercise will make them more prominent.

  4. Hey there! This is the best long story short to ‘how to do it properly’ and you’re right. I’m gonna get down it. Thanks a lot. Keep it up! Cheers!

    1. 3-4 sets of cable crunches and 3-4 sets of some rotational exercise (wood choppers or landmine rotations). Done 2x per week.

  5. Hi! I am Japanese- American and my friends are thin and or chiseled. I feel left out and slightly fat. I want to be like them! Would I be able to get thinner by only drinking water?

  6. This is exactly the type of article I was looking for. I’m female 5’1” and a runner. I weighed 115 until I started at the gym and now I’m about 118 but like the way I look better now because everything is tightening and I can already see some definition. I don’t have a lot of body fat but particularly I have a very thin midsection. I don’t eat clean but I do keep track of my calories and keep a balance. Honestly I don’t want to be any thinner and don’t want to lose my curves by losing any weight but I want abs! Any extra weight I carry on my lower body (which is why I run!). But I want abs without having to cut out my iced coffee! So as long as I keep up with my calories and keep a low body fat I can still get abs? I am ab training about 3 times a week. Sorry for the book! Lol! Just blindly trying to reach my goals on my own!

      1. I use the ab machines at the gym. I do a couple variations on crunches (sitting up and lying down both on machines with weights. I can crunch 55lbs on the one that’s sitting position, 40 on the other), hanging leg lifts (which kill my shoulders), the oblique twist machine, as well as full body workouts. I just started the gym about 2 months ago and have really upped the weight since then so my body is definitely progressing.

  7. Hi. My name is Luel. 20 years old. From 154 to 127. I’ve been working out for about 6 weeks and I’m still a bit confused about the food that I SHOULD eat. All I know is to lessen the food that I eat. I eat only once a day because of my work. But I want to build up some muscle! Can you please give me some tips? I’m a filipino and a bit short in budget. lol. But i know there still some way to reach my goal.

    1. If you only eat once a day and need to build muscle then you need to eat A LOT in your one meal. Eat lean proteins, rice, fruits/veggies. avoid too much processed foods like chips and candy.

      1. I don’t really eat chips and candy. But since you said that i should eat a LOT in one meal, should I consider taking supplements like protein shakes? I’ve been thinking about it since I want to develop muscles.

  8. Hi I’m 14 and a girl I know it’s young but I hate my body I’m currently 60.9kg saying it’s a healthy weight but I want toned abs so I can feel good about my body and not care about my face but I don’t want to lose weight because I’d be underweight and unhealthy , I have a bit of stomach fat and my normal routine is the 100 sit up challenge for 100 days , but I can never diet because I’m a very fussy eater i can’t eat brown rice or any vegetables the only healthy foods I eat is brown bread strawberries and oranges the rest is all junk but I’m wondering do I need to diet to see my abs because if not could you suggest things to do to help without dieting note I’ll be joining a gym soon but at the moment I’m doing home excersises sorry for the long paragraph

    1. You can add up exercises like planks and leg raises. BUt above all else understand that you are ONLY 14. You are still going through puberty. I know it’s not what you want to hear but don’t rush trying to get “toned abs.” Chances are even if you get them, you’ll find something else about your body that you need to “fix.”

  9. Does that mean i can intake high calorie foods and get abbs also by working out? Because im trying to gain weight, mostly on my thighs area, but i also want to get abbs. What im currently doing rightnow is lifting heavy, high calorie intake with extra abb workouts. Should i stick to what im doing?

  10. So,i’m 12 years old and i want chizzled abs,i have like abs that are hardly seeable but you can feel them a little.Do i need to go on a diet.i don t count calories but i don t eat trash like chips,cookies mayoinese chocolate but i eat prosecced meat is that bad,and lots of milk for building muscle.
    My so called abs i got by doing lots of light exercises for like one month or three weeks and then i would stop and recently i got serius to build more muscle.Can i build abs without worrying ’bout diet but don’t eat trash and doing hard ass
    exercises(i only started them)i do this every rest they that i’m not doing muscle building. 3 cyles of this = https://youtu.be/AQyV63pr10c.Can i build chizled abs witgout dieting but not eating trash and doing that workout 3 times,3 times a week.



    Weight:54 kg

    Height: 165 cm

    Pull ups:7 in a row

    Muscle ups:can’t

    Push ups 25 – 30 good form

    Squats:i hate

    diet:i don’t eat trash butbi eat processed meat

    (This time i ain’t messing around)

    Sry for my bad handwriting i’m not from english speaking country

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