T Nation

Just can't get abs

I’m 16 years old 5’11 and 150 pounds. I have an awesome chest band my arms are decent but my problem is, I can’t get ripped abs. Any suggestions?


It’s your diet. Check the FAQ and read the back issues of TMag. 150 is a little light at 5’11, though… you may be starving yourself.

Sure. Heavy deadlifts and straight leg raises.

Find another hobby.

Anyone who recommends doing straight leg raises is demonstrating they have not studied their anatomy. All this exercise does is damage the lower back.

Stiffed Leg Deadlifts damage your lower back? I am sorry but if you know how to perform the exercise and use correct form and weight it is a excellent excercise! Can you elaborate on your statement? I am interested in understanding your opinion and what information you based it on.

he said avoid the stiff-leg raises… not the deads w/ straight leg… I agree, stiff legged deads are a superb excercises. I’ve definitely noticed the best abdominal strength/development coming from exercises that just hit the whole core, not focused ab-ercises.

Swale: Hanging straight legged raises are a ligitimate ab builder. just ask the coach.

Sandman: Stiff legged deadlifts are very different t o straight legged raises. I think you may have misread the comment.

How do straight leg raises injure the lower back? Can you eloborate more on that?

Unless you have a genetic propensity for low fat, then at such an age you are unlikely to get any real definition till your early to mid 20s. If youw ant to get them now, go on a fat stripping diet. (I use a high fat/high protein/NO carb diet…) Alternately, look at Bruce Lee’s workout in “The art of expressing the human body” You cant go wrong if you do what he did.

Straight leg raises grind the anterior body of the vertabrae together. This pinching action puts TREMENDOUS force on the intervertebral discs, squeezing them posteriorly. The PLL (posterior longtitudinal ligament) runs down the posterior surface of the vertabrae, thus protecting the spinal cord. This means the disc is pushed posterolaterally, which is where the nerve roots are–and why herniated discs are exquisitely painful. If you open a brand new jar of jelly, and bounce your fingers on the smooth surface of the jelly, this is just about exactly what the nucleus pulposus, the gelatinous central body of the disc, feels like. Not much, when you consider straight leg lifts put hundreds of pounds of force per square inch on them. The discs are surrounded by the Anulus Fibrosis, a fibrous casing, if you will, but even it is thinner on the posterior side. What about the exercise itself? This movement causes hypertonicity of the iliopsoas complex (the main flexor of the thigh)–which is the only muscle really worked here–and, by virtue of its attachment along the lumbar section of the spine, thus increases the lordotic curvature of the lumbar section. This further predisposes the back to injury, as well as radically altering lumbo-sacral mechanics. To sum this all up, OF ALL THE THINGS STRAIGHT LEG RAISES DO, ALL ARE BAD. BTW, about 60% of those who have herniated a disk don’t know it yet.

BTW, I LOVE stiff-legged deadlifts. They seem to really put things back into place after squatting. When done correctly, I believe them to be a VERY safe and tremendously effective exercise.

At 16 you obviously have some “babyfat” to contend with. And maybe are predisposed to carry that fat around your midsection.

And you know, a set of ripped abs ain't all that. What is more important right now, at your age, is to continue to train, focus on fundamentals (nutrition and training), and allow your body to grow. I would say concentrate on adding more LBM for the time being. That way, by the time you're 17 or 18, you'll be seeing that six pack.

I agree completely with Patricia. Yes, it’s nice to sport a six-pack at the beach, but it’s not the end all be all of a good body. I know a lot of skinny guys with a six pack (and I mean about 5’11" and 130 or so) but they wouldn’t really be said to have a great body, at least not by the standards of the people on this forum.

The main concern is the way you go about losing the fat. Generally speaking, you have to have a caloric deficit to lose fat. At your age, I think you would be much better served with a caloric surplus.

As long as you're keeping a clean diet, you shouldn't put on too much fat with only a slight caloric surplus. This, in addition to focusing on the basics of training and nutrition should give you excellent results. Hope this helps.

oh man, have i heard the eat more saying before. I eat like a horse, my breaskfasts are huge, lunchs are awesome and dinner is massive. And i take protein shakes, since a young kid tho i’ve had a fast fast metabolism, so anyting i put in gets burned right off.


I am seriously wondering why the focus of someone who only weighs 150lbs at that height is to see abs when it is clear that you are carrying very little muscle mass. It is strange, but I have yet to meet all of these women who think abs are all there is to a good physique. Why are you concerned with this BEFORE you even have any size on you? How big is your chest? How big are your arms? Hell, it is almost winter time, and unless you go to school at the Playboy Mansion, my guess is you usually wear a shirt. Why are people today so concerned with the one bodypart that no one can usually see? You wrote that you eat all of the time, yet abs are your goal at the moment. Here’s a hint, your chances of achieving above average muscularity while also bringing your abs out (which means a eating less than it takes to gain weight) are slim. Choose a goal instead of chasing two.

Patricia is right on the money! You are young and skinny for 5’11. develop the core properly and safely and you will develop a solid foundation for your later years. As far as eating goes, if your metabolism is fast then you need to get in more calories, pure and simple, last time i checked wheat bread, flax oil, and whey protein isolate gave some pretty easy calories to consume. laters pk

You could be holding extracellular water, bodyfat or your rectus abdominus may not be genetically shaped as you would like.

eat clean, attempt to eliminate unecessary extracellular fluid and train those abs.

Coach Hale

The effect at the bottom of the movement is the same. In fact, because momentum is built up, it becomes even MORE ballistic on the lumbar region. Now, if you lift up from the knees, so the lower legs remain perpendicular to the floor, this danger is all but removed. What you are left with then is a great ab exercise.

Is that the case even with controlled raising and lowering of the legs, thus eliminating momentum?