Flat, sexy abs are something that many women desire. Its no surprise really as the celebrity magazines often show images of celebs like Jennifer Lopez and Kendall Jenner flashing their six-packs.
So what can you do to achieve similar results? Can performing 100s of sit-ups and planks every day help you achieve your goal?
I would highly recommend that you read on as we have revealed the ultimate guide to getting sculpted abs as a female.[toc]
The Best Diet For Female Abs
The truth is that you can do all the exercise in the world, but if your diet is rubbish and you don’t lose any of that excess fat then you are not going to be able to see your abs.
If you want to see your abs then you really should aim to get your body fat percentage between 16% to 19%.
To burn fat you will need to consume fewer calories than you burn. You can do this by reducing the number of calories consumed.
Before you can decide on how many calories you should be consuming you will need to work out how many calories you need to maintain your current weight.
This figure is known as your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), and this can be worked out online using various calculators. I would recommend the following BMR Calculator.
Once you know your BMR you will now need to reduce this amount by 500 calories a day.
I would recommend avoiding sugary drinks, including soft drinks, sports drinks and juice as these are full of calories and sugar.
Research has found that these types of drinks have been linked to weight gain and an increase in belly fat .
Rather than drinking sugary drinks you should instead make sure to drink plenty of water.
Water contains zero calories and can help reduce water retention. Drinking it regularly can help to flush out the toxins that cause belly bloat .
It will also help to boost your metabolic rate, helping you to burn extra belly fat.
Research has found that those who drank water before a meal lost 44% more weight over a 12-week period than those who didn’t .
Sugary foods and fried foods are best avoided too. This includes foods like French fries and mozzarella sticks as these contain trans fats, and cookies, cakes and sweets.
Trans fats are made using a process called hydrogenation, which allows the oils to remain solid at room temperature. These fats have been linked to heart disease and an increase in body fat .
Sugary foods are full of calories and high amount of fructose that in research was shown to cause belly fat , it also increases hunger and your appetite .
If getting a six-pack is your goal then avoiding refined grains and alcohol is a good idea as well.
The reason for this is that alcohol has been linked to larger waistlines , and excess body fat .
Refined grains like white rice, bread and pasta, on the other hand, have had many of the essential nutrients removed to extend the shelf life of these products.
When compared to whole grains, refined grains contain less fibre and nutrients.
Research has found that replacing refined grains with whole grains could help support weight loss and a reduction in belly fat .
Whole grains like oats, barley and quinoa can help your fat loss efforts as they are full of fibre, which can improve your digestion, reduce your appetite and reduce your body fat percentage .
Your diet should also contain plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with lean protein sources like chicken or turkey, and fatty fish.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are nutrient-dense, which means that they contain very few calories, but are full of nutrients essential to good health. This includes antioxidants, fibre and various vitamins and minerals.
Research has found that those who ate 4 portions of vegetables daily had a lower risk of weight gain and a reduced waist circumference in women .
Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that offer various health benefits, including:
- Better heart health
- Improved brain function
- Reduced inflammation
Omega-3 fatty acids can also help lower your body fat percentage, with those consuming them regularly having a smaller waist circumference .
It is important to eat plenty of protein-rich foods as they have been linked to lower body fat percentages and will help reduce your appetite .
If you are peckish during the day you should definitely avoid reaching for the junk food. You should instead opt for some fresh fruit or some nuts and seeds.
Nuts and seeds are a good source of fibre, protein and healthy fats, which are all good for your fat loss efforts.
There are numerous studies showing how eating nuts and seeds could help reduce your body fat percentage .
Best Ab Exercises For Women
If you want to get abs then alongside a healthy diet you will also need to exercise.
I would suggest performing both cardio exercises to help burn calories , and strength-building exercises too.
The more muscle your body has the more calories you will burn, even when you are at rest.
According to the American Council on Exercise, 1 pound of muscle burns 7-10 calories daily, while 1 pound of fat burns 2-3 calories.
Research has found that resistance exercise can help increase lean body weight (muscle mass), reduce fat mass and boost your metabolism by 7% in just 10 weeks .
I would also recommend performing specific ab exercises too.
Here are the best ab exercises for women (always warm up before undertaking any exercise):
The crunch is probably the most popular ab exercise. It works the mid-section of your abs, otherwise known as the rectus abdominis muscle.
Crunches can be performed by laying down on an exercise mat, flexing your knees and keeping your feet flat to the ground.
Your hands should be placed on either side of your head to support its weight.
The next step is to curl your body up at a 30-degree angle while you exhale.
Inhale as you lower your body to the starting position.
I would aim to perform 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions.
We have all heard about sit-ups and while they are no longer as popular as crunches they are still a great exercise for strengthening your core muscles.
To perform a sit-up you will need to lie down on your back on an exercise mat.
You should flex your knees at a 90-degree angle, keeping your feet flat on the mat. Your hands should be crossed on your chest with your palms placed on opposite shoulders.
Keep your abs engaged with your feet flat to the floor and lift your head off the mat and then your shoulders.
Pause for a second before returning to the start position. Aim for 2-3 sets of 10 reps.
#3: Lying Leg Raise
This exercise can be performed by laying down on an exercise mat with your hands on either side palms facing down.
Point your toes and raise both legs up. You should stop when your legs are at a 90-degree angle to the floor.
The next step is to lower your legs to the starting position.
This exercise can be performed 8-12 times for 2-3 sets.
If you suffer from back pain then you should perform planks regularly. They are also a great exercise for your posture and for strengthening your core.
This exercise will work your rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, transverse abdominis, arms, shoulders, quads, back, and hip muscles.
To perform the plank you should kneel down on an exercise mat. Put your hands out in front of you with your palms flat on the mat, with arms straight.
You should then bend down and place your forearms on the mat.
Extend your legs behind yourself, keeping them straight with your toes flexed.
The aim is to hold this pose for 10-20 seconds. You may be able to hold the pose for longer until you start to feel a burn in your shoulders, core and quads.
You can release and repeat this pose 3 more times.
#5: Hanging Ab Raise
This exercise works your lower abs, inner abs and transverse abs.
To perform it you will need a pull-up bar, which you will need to grab, leaving your legs dangle.
Your legs should be straight. Next, exhale and bend your knees, bringing them up towards your chest.
The next step is to inhale and slowly lower your legs to the starting position. Aim for 2 sets of 8-12 reps.
The superwoman exercise works the hip flexors, glutes, lower and upper abs, quadriceps and hamstrings.
To perform the superwoman you should lie face down on an exercise mat, with your legs extended and toes pointing outward.
You should keep your palms extended out in front, making sure that your palms are facing down.
Next, lift your hands and legs off the ground as though you are flying. Hold this pose for 5 seconds before release.
I would suggest 2 sets of 10 repetitions.
#7: Wood Chop
An exercise that will work your entire core.
This exercise can be performed by standing upright holding a dumbbell with both hands. You should keep your arms straight and swing the weight in a controlled manner up and towards your left shoulder.
Next, swing the weight back down towards your right hip while you bend into a squat position.
Perform 8-12 repetitions before you swap sides (right shoulder to left hip).
#8: Prone Jackknife
This exercise works your core while strengthening your hip flexors, shoulders and chest.
To perform this exercise you should get into a push-up position with your feet on a ball, with your body in a straight line.
You should try to keep your torso completely stable, bend your knees to tuck the ball underneath you, then straighten your legs back out to complete one rep.
Aim to complete 8-12 reps for a single set.
Female Ab FAQs
The following are questions that have been submitted by our readers (to submit your own leave your question below using the comment form provided):
Are Male And Female Abs Different?
No, they are not different (men typically have more muscle mass). However, due to the different training regimes typically undertaken they can appear different.
Most women don’t want to look too masculine so won’t go to the extremes that some men will when getting a six-pack.
Who Has The Best Female Abs?
This would be a subjective answer. If you have a personal favourite then let us know in the comments below.
Best Female Celebrities With Abs?
According to the website Ranker, the top 5 female celebrity abs are Jessica Biel, Kaley Cuoco, Vanessa Hudgens, Gwen Stefani and Miranda Kerr.
Ranker is a website that allows users to vote using various polls on entertainment, brands, sports and culture.
Which Female Athlete Has The Best Abs?
This again would be a subjective answer. Some female gymnasts like Simone Biles have six-packs that most would be proud of, while football/soccer stars like Alex Morgan also has an enviable six-pack.
Will Swimming Help Get Abs?
Yes. Swimming is a total body exercise so will help burn calories and build muscle.
Should I Lose Fat First Or Build Muscle First?
This would really depend on your fitness levels.
Typically most people would do both, so aim to lose fat while gaining muscle. However, this is not always the case.
You may already be able to feel your abs but may have a layer of fat over the top. In this case, you could spend more time trying to lose that layer of fat rather than trying to build more muscle.
Will Zumba Help Me To Get Abs?
Zumba is a cardio workout, so will definitely help burn excess calories, which will in turn help with your fat loss efforts.
I would still recommend some strength training too, and some of the ab exercises listed in this article to strengthen and build your core muscles.
Doing both will help to reveal your abs over time.
Achieving a six-pack as a female is difficult, and will require plenty of time and dedication to your diet and training regime.
While it is something you may desire and is certainly something to show off when you do achieve the goal, it is not something that you have to achieve.
Maintaining a six-pack is not something I would recommend. Your body fat percentage will need to remain low to keep those abs visible, which is something that many of us will struggle with.
Perhaps we need to learn to love our bodies and focus more on our health instead. Of course, if a six-pack is achieved as an added benefit of healthy eating and regular exercise then who are we to complain.