The term “washboard abs” comes from an old tool known as a washboard. This was a bumpy board used to wash clothes back when there were no washing machines. Abs that are very well developed have a “ridged” look, a little like a washboard.
You’ve probably been told on more than one occasion that to get washboard abs, you need to have a low level of bodyfat.
No matter how well developed your abdominal muscles are, you won’t see anything if there’s a layer of fat filling in the gaps.
But dropping fat is only part of the story. You also need to BUILD rectus abdominis in order to get a real six pack.
Rectus abdominis extends down the stomach from your ribs to your hips. The washboard abs look comes from bands of connective tissue that “cut” into rectus abdominis. The more developed the rectus abdominis muscle, the deeper the grooves.
How to Get Washboard Abs
To sum up, getting washboard abs requires two things. One of those things is well developed abdominal muscles. The second is a low level of body fat. No matter how well developed your abdominal muscles are, you won’t be able to see them if they’re hidden under a thick layer of fat.
Some think that squats and deadlifts are all you need to develop your abdominal muscles.
However, while squats and deadlifts work the posterior spinal muscles (i.e. the posterior core), studies show that they don’t work rectus abdominis to any significant degree.
Can You Get a Six Pack from Running?
Running can certainly make a contribution to the calorie deficit required for fat loss. But it’s not going to build up your ab muscles. And aerobic exercise in general isn’t a very efficient way to lose weight. You’re far better off using your diet to strip away the fat.
You may have heard that abs are built in the kitchen, not the gym. Which isn’t true. Abs are a muscle. And, just like any other muscle, they’re built in the gym and revealed in the kitchen.
There are some people who are genetically gifted in the abs department and don’t need to do a lot of direct abdominal work. Unless you’re one of them, you’ll need to train rectus abdominis directly if you want washboard abs that look good on the beach.
So lets take a closer look at some of my favorite exercises for working the abs.
First of all, let me apologize for the poor lighting. I shot this video in my garage and didn’t realize it would come out so dark.
With a Swiss Ball, loaded barbell or a Power Wheel in front of you (I’m using an cheap ab wheel that I got from Amazon), kneel down on the floor. Take your knees off the floor and straighten your legs.
In this position, only your toes should be in contact with the floor. Push the wheel (or ball) forwards as far as possible, pause for a second, and then return to the start position.
Although rollouts are a great way to work rectus abdominis, doing them on your feet is pretty tough, so here are some similar moves that aren’t quite as difficult.
Fallouts are pretty much the same as rollouts, only using a suspension trainer instead of a wheel.
What I like about fallouts is that it’s a lot easier to modify the exercise based on your current level of conditioning.
The closer you are to a standing position, the easier the exercise. To make it harder, lengthen the straps and gradually move closer to the floor. Try them in a press-up position (as shown in the video below) and you’ll find fallouts a lot more challenging.
I love the Body Saw. It’s a really effective way to work your abs without doing hundreds of crunches.
I do them on a Jungle Gym XT suspended from the bar on a Smith machine. You can also use a Power Wheel.
If you’ve got a wooden floor at home, you can do the Body Saw in your socks or on a carpet using small weight plates as sliders.
Stir The Pot
The aim of this exercise is to make circles with your forearms so that the ball rolls around while your body stays in the same position.
You can make the exercise a little easier by moving your feet further apart. If you want to make it harder, bring your feet closer together.
This exercise is called the Pallof Press. It’s named after physical therapist John Pallof. And trust me when I tell you that it’s harder than it looks.
I know this might not look like an abdominal exercise. But when you press the cable forward, the forces trying to turn your torso to the left or right are increased. With all the resistance coming from one side, your “core” muscles have to work hard to prevent your body from twisting.
Start with your feet roughly shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent. Press the cable out until your arms are fully extended in front of you.
From there, you’ll want to “brace” the abdominals as hard as you can. This involves tightening the abdominal muscles as if you’re about to take a punch in the gut.
Bracing your abs is really important, as this has been shown to increase muscle activation during the Pallof Press, making your abs work harder and giving you better results.
Make sure that your body stays facing forwards. If you start to twist, use a lighter weight or reduce the amount of time you hold the cable in front of you.
Aim for a total of 3-5 repetitions per side, holding for around 5-10 seconds each time. Be sure to do an equal amount of work on both sides.
An alternative to the Pallof Press is simply to use the dumbbell row as one of your back exercises.
This is similar to the Pallof Press in the sense that it’s an anti-rotational exercise. An exercise doesn’t have to involve an actual twist to work the twisting muscles. By actively preventing your torso from twisting, those same muscles are still being trained.
SEE ALSO: THE FLAT BELLY CHEAT SHEET
If you want less flab and more muscle when you look down at your abs (or where they should be), check out The Flat Belly Cheat Sheet.
It's a “cut the waffle and just tell me what to do” PDF that tells you exactly how to get rid of belly fat. To get a copy of the cheat sheet sent to you, please click or tap here to enter your email address.