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Value of Ab Exercises for Definition?


I've always been told (and more or less believed) that abdominal definition is only dependent upon one's bf % and genetics, and that ab routines tend to be a waste of time. In fact, my abs have always gotten sore more easily from doing squats and deads than from sets upon sets of crunches or leg raises. However I was wondering if others here could share with me their thoughts on whether there will be any benefit to incorporating an ab routine in the course of seeking more abdominal definition?



I feel variety is key with stimulating abs, and you most certainly will help your progress by doing more


I think an ab routine vs. doing nothing at all will help slightly in terms of the number calories used. It won't help with localized or spot fat loss and such. My brother does no ab work but his abs are getting more defined by the week - a function of lowering his body fat through dieting.


Ab work won't get you more definition but it will make your abs look better when you lose the fat covering them. Depending on your specific goals however, you may already be getting enough ab work in the rest of your routine and might not need to isolate them, pretty much dependent on what you're aiming for, core strength for sports, or are you after that wasp waist as a BBer? If all you're looking for is definition, lose the fat.


I think ab development is partially genetic. I have see some BB with very low body fat that just do not have well developed abs. Boyer Coe was a BB long ago that just could not develop abs. I have seen alot of kids with low body fat that do not do ab work( my teen son has abs) and have abs. I have never done ab work because I have always had abs, even as a child, and was afraid they would grow larger and make my waist bigger. I know I"ll catch a flaming for that.


this right here


Thanks for the response. Could you please elaborate on exactly what you mean by abs looking better? Let's say I've been cutting down for a month and am at 12% right now with my abs starting to show a bit, but would look to get down to around 8% in 6-8 weeks time. Would my abs appear more defined at 8% if I incorpoated an ab routine in the course of the coming 6-8 weeks than if I did nothing? Also, please keep in mind that I'm more on the bodybuilding route than anything else, but my workouts emphasize exercises like deads, cleans and squats. Thanks!


Yeah, I kinda' wanna' know how much better my abs will look training them vs. not.

But I'm going to assume it might have something to do with the size of the peaks/valleys etc. in those little ab crevices and crests. :slight_smile:




Just as with any other muscle, bigger abs will poke out through the fat and be visible at higher bodyfats then smaller, untrained abs.


Basically with little ab development but low bf you'll have a flat stomach with some lines in it, you've all seen skinny guys with not a lot of muscle but good definition. Depending on your physiology you can really make those segments pop out and yes, maybe more visible even with a higher bf but again that depends on your individual fat distribution. With my own body it's like I'm wearing some sort of inflatable inner tube around my belly and as I lose weight you see each ab segment show up starting at the top and working down as I shed the pounds.

For Jiu Jitsu I do a lot of ab/core work so despite carrying way more fat than I should be, when I flex the abs you can actually see a 4 pack through the fat. I'm working on stripping that shit away right now, that's one of the reasons I came back to this site, posted here a lot before the big change that seems to have wiped out my old posting history :stuck_out_tongue:


As the saying goes, abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym. I do minimal ab work, but overall body fat % is more predictive of whether or not you'll see abs.


im a newb to working out, but for track, cross country, and basketball we had to do alot a core/ab work from planks to crunchs,lef lifts, etc, so my abs are pretty developed, and I've always had a pretty low bf% from being an ecto and from all the cardio in my selected sports, so i've been able to see them somewhat since 5th or 6th grade and been able to see them through different stages of training. But i do notice a change from when i do and dont directly work them.

they sort of seem to lose 'shape' for lack of a better word, and seem to look more like random pieces put together before i directly worked them, and they seem to get that way if i dont directly hit them for awhile. but now they look more like bricks stacked together, more square and more aesthetic in my opinion. so I personally would go with dircet ab work. but everyone is correct, it is all about diet and bf%.


Certainly their are 'pratical' advantages to performing direct ab work. All your lifts will benefit, which should help with progression. I suppose it only makes sense that conditioned abs would look better than un-conditioned abs; but I don't believe it would be enough to notice/measure above 6% on the majority of lifters. Abs have been the most over/in-correctly trained bodypart in every gym I have ever been a member. If lifters spent the time on their legs they spend on their abs, gyms wouldn't be filled with people in their mid-thirties with 'chicken legs'. The above is correct: Abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym.