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. I am a 33 year female. I am going to purchase a gym membership that is close to my school because I’m a teacher. Also, due to my career I can most days just fit in dinner. I could include a lunch for the sake of my health. The only days I can do breakfast is when I’m out of school, but I’m reading yogurt is good for abs so I could eat yougurt as I welcome my students in the morning. What specific foods can I eat? I will be the only member in my family going on a diet so I need to know what will be different. How many days a week and for how long should I workout if I want to be ab ready by summer because I’m 125 lbs and the fat I have on my belly is that stubborn lower tummy fat.

  2. This article honestly made me laugh out loud it was so pointless. The reason you hear that abs are made in the kitchen is because 90% of people fail at this part. Strength training is great for building the muscle in your abs and if you eat proper foods high in nutrients and low calorically then you can stay hypo caloric and build muscle. The point is abs take hard work with core training but also take determination to stay consistent 365 days a year. So don’t think you need to have 20 pounds of muscle to start because if you truly new what you were talking about you would know that you can build muscle and lose body fat at the same time.

    But the funny part was that you didn’t know that you had to actually work out to have abs.

  3. Hey! I’m 15 and I’m 150 pounds. I have some muscle. You can kind of make out a six pack but barely. I have a little fat around my waist where my lower abdominals are. I’m not really sure the best way to train to get a shredded six pack as you call it. I’ve survived by not getting fat from a fast metabolism and playing years of sports. I’m really trying to hone in on a perfect six pack. Tell me what I should do because I don’t know how much I should do and what kind of diet to follow.

  4. Thanks for post! This is rarely addressed. I am learning that being skinny fat, I’m making better progress with ignoring my flab and focusing on compound exercises to build muscle. I was surprised to learn that due to my Kettle swings, snd bent over rows, I’m getting abs! Long way to go, but you’re right: can’t reveal what you never had 🙂

  5. Thank you!! I have zero ab definition but the only advice I could find online is “lose more weight.” I’m 100 lbs soaking wet, so that’s not gonna happen. Super helpful.

  6. I’ve always had an “almost” 6-pack. It’s been a long time coming because I work out frequently and I eat obscenely healthy. I’m talking lean meats, vegetables, and nuts. When I dropped from 210 to 165, my ab definition didnt change at all!! So I started a bulk cycle and guess what. I’m 200 again with the exact same fabs as before. What I realized was that upon feeling them, they are tiny little finger sized bumps like justin bieber. Thank you for the info. I only recently realized it myself that training twice a week with crunches and leg lifts to failure wasn’t gonna cut it. I need some serious core work.

  7. Hormones definitely play a role. I hate to be the guy that says schedule an appointment with your doctor, get a blood test, and find out how messed up your hormone levels are, because I know that can be costly in time and money. However, you might benefit by balancing your hormones first, like Testosterone or Thyroid Hormones, which will save you years of wasted hours in the gym or on the treadmill. When I balanced my hormone levels, I started seeing results. Before that, I worked out like mad and achieved very little. At least consider that this might be holding back your progress. Good luck.

    1. yes that can always be an issue especially if you’re older. But most ppl should get your diet, exercise, and sleep in order first.

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