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Why are my abs hiding? 10 reasons you might not be getting the ab results you want

By LLM Reporters  |  June 9, 2021

Having visible abs is one of the main goals that fitness fanatics work towards. Core strength is important for posture, balance, endurance and weight lifting – but core strength isn’t the only thing necessary to achieve the washboard-abs look. 

How do you get abs?

Simply put, visible abdominal muscles are achieved by lowering your body fat percentage while increasing your core strength at the same time. You might have super strong abs, but if your body fat percentage is too high, you won’t be able to see them. Ideally, for men, your body fat should be 10% or less, or if you’re a woman it should be 18% or less, for abs to be visible. But how do you lower your body fat percentage and increase strength? In this article we will explore 10 reasons you might not be getting the ab results you want, and offer alternatives to these common mistakes.

Simply put, visible abdominal muscles are achieved by lowering your body fat percentage while increasing your core strength at the same time

1. You’re doing too much cardio

Cardiovascular fitness is vital for overall health, but doing lots of cardio in the gym every day isn’t going to give you visible abs. Cardio is brilliant for your heart – the clue is in the name – and overall endurance, but it isn’t so great for toning and sculpting particular muscle groups. If you have been working out for a while and aren’t appearing to be toned, make sure you aren’t replacing essential strength training with hours of cardio.

2. Your diet is high in refined sugar

Refined sugar is highly addictive and highly delicious, making it very difficult to reduce it in your diet. However, refined sugar quickly turns into belly fat, meaning that if you are trying to get toned abs, your sugar intake will work against you – and it will likely win. To reduce the refined sugar in your diet, try reducing your alcohol intake, and swap sugary snacks for nuts, seeds and natural sugar sources like fruit.

3. Your diet is too carbohydrate-based

Some people believe you have to cut out carbs to be toned, but this is simply not the case. Carbohydrates are an essential food group that provide energy to the human body, so don’t go cutting them out completely. Nevertheless, a high-carb diet, where carbohydrates make up most of what you eat, is likely to increase your body fat percentage. Try balancing your carbohydrates with protein sources, vegetables and fats for an overall healthier diet.

fresh fruit
Swap sugary snacks for nuts, seeds and natural sugar sources like fruit

4. You aren’t pushing yourself 

One reason people lose traction with their workout progress is that they stop pushing themselves. If you want to continue improving your muscle mass and reducing body fat, you have to continue to push yourself during your workouts, rather than doing the same old routine every time. It could be that the reason you aren’t seeing ab results is because you aren’t applying enough resistance. Don’t go too far – you don’t want to get injured – but steadily increase the resistance of your workouts to see more results.

5. You aren’t getting enough protein to develop muscle mass

Protein intake is crucial for building muscle, meaning that the more you want your abs to stand out, the more you should be eating. If you want a 4, 6 or 8-pack, protein is the answer to your prayers. (If you need 4 Pack vs 6 Pack vs 8 Pack abs explained, click the link.) Protein helps build muscle because the amino acids found in protein help to build muscle tissue, repairing the damage that is done through ‘shredding’ muscle fibres during workouts.

6. You aren’t varying your exercises

Doing the same workout routine every time is going to make you complacent. Varying your exercises will ensure you are targeting your muscle groups in a balanced way, constantly challenging your body to achieve more each time you hit the gym. If you are trying out the same four ab workouts each time, it’s time to shake it up. Make sure you source new workout plans from YouTube and Instagram to help sculpt your abs to perfection.

Remember, the people you follow online have an immense amount of help in getting to look the way they do

7. You’re trying to achieve an image that is impossible for your body

In the era of technology, body image is something we all focus on more and more. If you have certain fitness accounts you like to follow on social media in order to maintain fitness motivation, it could be that you are holding yourself to a too-high standard. Remember, the people you follow online have an immense amount of help in getting to look the way they do. If you aren’t employed to have amazing abs, that’s probably why you aren’t achieving the same results as the influencer you follow. Try to have managed expectations when it comes to achieving your body goals.

8. You aren’t resting enough

Rest is essential. No athlete smashes it at the gym seven days per week, and neither should you. When you workout hard, you are putting your body under strain, meaning that when you rest, your body is able to recuperate and gather its energy for the next exertion.

When you workout hard, you are putting your body under strain, meaning that when you rest, your body is able to recuperate and gather its energy for the next exertion

9. Patience is a virtue

Patience is very difficult to have these days, when everything we want is available at the touch of a button. Achieving an athlete’s body takes an enormous amount of time and energy, so if you aren’t seeing the desired results in just a few months, you need to persevere. For some people, particularly if you have a slow metabolism or are starting from a point of very low fitness, achieving a sculpted body can take years. It’s a marathon, not a sprint – so be patient.

10. You need to correct your form

Form is everything when it comes to weight and resistance training. You should book a session with a personal trainer to check that your form is as sharp as possible, to avoid injuries and maximise the results of your workouts. You could be working out with incorrect form, making it difficult to achieve the abs of your dreams.

Final thoughts

Getting a six pack is a big challenge, and depends on your diet, genetics, exercise and overall lifestyle. Use our guide to help correct your mistakes and see those results you’ve been dreaming of.