I’m a Trainer, and If You Want Your Abs to Show, This Is the Type of Cardio You Need to Do

Shot of a group of friends going for a run together in nature

If you’re trying to get your abs to show, doing never-ending reps of ab exercises won’t cut it. Instead, you’ve got to lower your body fat percentage with diet and exercise like strength training and cardio. There are lots of ways you can get your cardio in, but in my opinion, the best cardio for abs is anything that’s high-intensity.

The Best Cardio For Abs

If you want more ab definition, I recommend doing more high-intensity forms of cardio like high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and sprinting. Remember, intensity is relative; you don’t have to be as fast as Usain Bolt in order to get abs. Another benefit of both HIIT and sprinting is that they’ll help you burn fat and build muscle, which is a big part of the ab-reveal game. The less fat you have and the more lean muscle you have, the more visible your abs will be.

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Steady-state cardio, such as a long run, can also help you see your ab muscles because it also burns fat, but I think HIIT and sprinting are more effective and will help you get results quicker. One thing to be aware of is that too much steady-state cardio has the potential to cause muscle catabolism, meaning it may burn muscle along with fat. If you do choose to incorporate steady-state cardio into your workout routine, don’t do more than 30-minute intervals at a time, Rondel King, MS, CSCS, an exercise physiologist at NYU Langone’s Sports Performance Center said in a previous interview.

The Best Ab-Strengthening Exercises

Cardio will help you burn fat, but if you really want your abs to pop, you’ll need to spend time focusing on strengthening your abdominal muscles. No, this is not the same as spot reduction where the intention is to lose fat in a specific area. If you want stronger abs or arms or legs, you’ve got to focus on exercises that will strengthen that specific muscle group.

A few of my favorite ab-strengthening and shredding exercises are high knees, tuck jumps, leg raises, and seated knee tucks. Here’s a list of ab exercises everyone should do more of for a stronger core.

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Exercise is a great starting point to see your abs, but you’ve also got to focus on your nutrition. I suggest starting with eating more whole foods and fewer processed foods.

A general rule of thumb is that 50 percent of your daily caloric intake should come from carbohydrates, 25 percent should come from protein, and 25 percent should come from fats, Nikki Jupe, MS, RD, LD, CSSD, senior sports dietitian at the University of Oregon told POPSUGAR in a previous interview. This is just a general number and will more than likely vary from person to person. Because of this, I recommend speaking with a registered dietitian who can provide you with more insight on what your nutrition plan should look like to lose fat.

Getting your abs to show won’t happen in a week, but if you’re consistent with your nutrition and workout regimen, you should begin seeing results around the six-week mark. If you’re in need of workouts to do, I recommend following this four-week plan to burn fat and build muscle.

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